Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right California icon-chevron-right Los Angeles icon-chevron-right The best beaches in Los Angeles
Point Dume, Malibu
Photograph: Courtesy Joel Mott Point Dume

The best beaches in Los Angeles

Soak up the sunshine at the best beaches in L.A., including family-friendly shores and a surfer’s paradise

By Michael Juliano and Time Out contributors



With 70-degree-plus days nearly year-round, Angelenos looking for the best things to outside can enjoy the great outdoors from January to December with L.A.’s best hikes (scenic views included) and even hikes with waterfalls to boot. But our perennial favorite is by far the beach. And with miles of picturesque coastline from Malibu to the South Bay, the best beaches in Los Angeles are aplenty for outdoor enthusiasts, surfers, families, sun worshippers and beach bunnies (and at one dog beach, for pups). From Venice and Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach and Playa Vista, here are the best beaches in L.A. to sunbathe, surf and play.

RECOMMENDED: See the best things to do in Los Angeles

Beaches in L.A. County are open with some modifications. Gatherings are allowed for up to three households, and a maximum of 15 people (however, separate households must remained distanced from each other). Face coverings are required outside of the water. Additional closures may vary by city or beach—and we’ve mentioned some below—but do note that restrictions may change quickly.

The 11 best beaches in Los Angeles, ranked

Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Gerson Repreza

1. El Matador State Beach

Attractions Beaches Malibu

Small and dominated by rocky outcrops, El Matador my not fit your typical idea of an afternoon on the sand—but it’s far and away SoCal’s most beautiful beach. Wear shoes and don’t bring too much gear; the western Malibu spot is only accessible via a steep gravelly path. Spread your towel in the cupped hands of the rocks—just watch out for high tide. Arriving early or staying late should reward you with a memorable dawn or sunset. El Matador and nearby El Pescador and La Piedra beaches collectively form the Robert H. Meyer Memorial Beaches.

Good for: nature lovers, dates
Facilities: porta-potty
Parking: parking lot $10 ($1 off when paying online), street parking free (watch for “no parking” signs)

Photograph: Courtesy Jenna Day

2. Zuma Beach

Attractions Beaches Malibu

Make the drive past Will Rogers and Surfrider beaches and you’ll be rewarded with a clean, wide patch of sand and surf at Zuma. A popular spot on weekends and holidays for locals and destination beach-goers, this Malibu beach can hold crowds with plenty of onsite parking (pay at the lot or for free along PCH and Westward Beach Road) and lifeguards on duty. Surfers can catch some waves at this sandy beach break, but waves tend to close out, making this a perfect spot for boogie boarders and body surfers. Venture to nearby Point Dume for idyllic hikes and repelling.

Good for: families, groups, boogie boarders
Facilities: restrooms, showers, lifeguards, concession stand, bike path, volleyball courts, swings
Parking: parking lot $3–$10, street parking free

Leo Carrillo State Park
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Mark Andrade

3. Leo Carrillo State Park

Attractions Beaches Los Angeles

Leo Carrillo State Beach has the best of both worlds: a well-equipped stretch of sand plus seclusion and scenic beauty. Longboarders can paddle out for mellow waves—it gets no more than chest-high at this point break—while nature lovers can explore tide pools on the rock-dotted coastline and a nearby trail. Groups can make use of the on-site camping grounds, picnic area, RV lot and token-operated showers. And don’t forget Fido: This is one of the rare beaches where dogs are allowed to roam (leashed, north of lifeguard tower 3).

Good for: nature lovers, surfers, groups
Facilities: showers, camp site, RV lot, picnic area, restrooms, fire rings
Parking: parking lot $3–$12

El Porto Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Pedro Szekely

4. El Porto Beach

Attractions Beaches Manhattan Beach

Try to ignore the Chevron refinery and the occasional plane coming in and out of LAX and instead focus on the consistent waves that make this a favorite for surfers who make the trip from all parts of SoCal. Newbies love the sandy beach break (just watch out for the occasional flying board), while winter wave hunters can brave overhead waves. Enter the parking lot from 45th Street, and note the five-hour limit. Early birds get the worm (and less crowded waves) with free parking before 8am. Those that prefer to stay on land can make use of the bike path and volleyball courts.

Good for: surfers
Facilities: restrooms, showers, bike path, concession stand, lifeguards
Parking: $1.50 per hour metered parking

Abalone Cove
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Chris Kuga

5. Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve

Attractions Beaches Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates

Abalone Cove isn’t exactly a beach chair and umbrella kind of destination—you’ll need to trek down a cliffside path from the parking lot and the beaches are often rocky. But if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work, you’ll encounter easily the most scenic spot in the South Bay, with hiking trails that cut through the bluffs, tide pools along the shore and caves carved into Portuguese Point. Sections of the rocky park have been known to close following destructive storms, so make sure to check the status online before hitting the beach.

Good for: hikers
Facilities: restrooms, lifeguards
Parking: parking lot $6–$12

Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Bart Jaillet

6. Surfrider Beach

Attractions Beaches Malibu

Those seeking escapism and romance may want to find another beach, but the payoff for fighting the crowds here is enjoying a stretch of sand deemed a World Surfing Reserve made famous by Gidget and other surf legends. A quintessential Malibu beach, this prime location makes for great people watching and three point breaks make this a perennial hot spot for both longboarders and shortboarders. Park along PCH—near the Spanish-style Adamson House, Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Pier—and trek past the lagoon onto the vast stretch of beach.

Good for: surfers, tourists
Facilities: restrooms, showers
Parking: parking lot $3–$12, street parking free

Santa Monica State Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Gerson Repreza

7. Santa Monica State Beach

Attractions Beaches Downtown Santa Monica

This big beach, which effectively runs the length of Santa Monica itself, is usually crowded and has a festive, summer holiday feel to it. The sand here is nice enough, as is the view of the Santa Monica Mountains, but the crowds come here for the Santa Monica Pier, roughly three city blocks in length and packed with food stands and carnival rides

Good for: groups, families, tourists
Facilities: restrooms, showers, pier, bike path, concession stands, lifeguards
Parking: multiple paid parking lots

Cruise the coast on an electric bike tour.

Dockweiler Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bryan Fernandez

8. Dockweiler State Beach

Attractions Beaches Playa del Rey

Fire pits temporarily closed.

Great for families and road trippers, this South Bay beach is outfitted with everything you need for a day at the beach. The beach sits at the end of LAX’s runways, so overhead planes are both amusing and inescapable. The wide, sandy beach is good for spreading out on beach towels and water sports, from swimming to surfing, while picnic areas and permitted bonfires (one of the few sites in L.A.) make for fun all-day outings at the beach.

Good for: families, groups
Facilities: restrooms, showers, lifeguards, picnic areas, parking, volleyball courts, bike path, fire rings
Parking: parking lot $7–$13, street parking free

County Line Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Nathan Hoyt

9. County Line Beach

Attractions Beaches Ventura County

The northernmost beach bordering Ventura County, this stretch in Malibu offers easy parking along PCH, an escape from the crowds, crystal clear waters (don’t be surprised to be out in the water alongside dolphins and tiny reef sharks) and a playground for surfers and kite surfers. The wide beach break is perfect for surfers of all levels while afternoon winds are perfect for kite surfing. Seafood stand and motorcycle hangout Neptune’s Net is across the street for beachside grub.

Good for: kite surfers, bikers
Facilities: porta-potty
Parking: small parking lot and street parking free

Los Angeles, CA
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Venice Beach

Attractions Beaches Venice

Venice Pier temporarily closed. The Boardwalk is technically only open for going to and from businesses and not loitering, and beaches run by the City of Los Angeles have yet to formally permit gathering or sunbathing—but good luck seeing either of those enforced. 

People-watching is the raison d'être at Venice Beach, which effectively continues from the southern end of Santa Monica Beach without a break. Jump into the flow of the winding (and utterfly disappointing) Venice Boardwalk, where you can skate or cycle, watch or play volleyball or basketball, and check out the pumped-up gym bunnies who work out at Muscle Beach. Surfers may want to opt out of less than pristine waters with inconsistent waves. Street parking is usually jammed, but there are several beachside lots.

Good for: tourists
Facilities: restrooms, beach-adjacent bars and restaurants, skate park, workout equipment, basketball, tennis, bike paths, lifeguards
Parking: multiple paid lots

Book an electric bike tour of Venice and Santa Monica.

Rosie the Bulldog at Rosie's Dog Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Justin Rudd

11. Rosie’s Dog Beach

Attractions Beaches Long Beach

For a generally pooch-friendly paradise, Los Angeles is pretty lousy when it comes to dog beaches. In fact, this four-acre waterfront spot is the only legal off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. The park is named after the area’s late local canine celebrity, Rosie the English bulldog. You can easily spot the dog-friendly area by the colorful “Dogs at Play” silhouette (you’ll want to stay between Granada Avenue and Roycroft Avenue).

Good for: dog owners
Facilities: restrooms, lifeguards
Parking: parking lot $1 per hour

Looking to spend the night?


    You may also like

      Best selling Time Out Offers