Los Angeles Beaches are part of the soul of the city. Part of what makes the city a desirable vacation destination is the lure of sand between your toes and sun on your face while the waves crash around you.
Starting in the north and working south…
The ample sand at Zuma Beach makes it the perfect place to stretch out on a towel and let the sun bake your back. For all the expensive houses lining the Pacific Coast Highway that runs up the beach from Santa Monica, there is no lack of real estate at Zuma Beach. Unlike other beaches in the city, there is always space for your group to claim turf without worrying about interference from surfers or the family next to you. In the dead of summer you may have to wait for a volleyball court, but that is rare. Limited parking also keeps the crowds low, although somehow it never seems to fill up.
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Malibu features several prominent surfing spots like Surfrider Beach which can fill up with crowds on good days. Beginners should ride at Malibu beach and stay on the inside. Leave the outer line to the experienced surfers and don’t be surprised when someone cuts in on you, it may just be Jim Carrey.
The pier at Santa Monica is one of the biggest draws to the Santa Monica beaches and the area is not known for its sports, water, or sand. People come to Santa Monica at night and enjoy the restaurant at the end of the pier and the amusement park in the middle. Live band venues and shopping surround the pier and the Santa Monica walking street, where street performers and artists display their wares, is just a few blocks from the beach.
Venice beach brings people for the people watching and the atmoshpere, whether it’s the body builders pumping iron on the outdoor weights at Muscle Beach or the inline skating performance artists on the bike paths. There is an atmosphere of premeditated non-conformity and a lot of trash. The basketball courts do get good players and games, however.
If beach volleyball needed a headquarters, Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches would be strong contenders. The beaches blend with each other if you walk far enough south on the bike path and along the whole stretch there are volleyball nets, courts, and games in progress.
Ten million dollar plots of land hold bungalows squeezed within inches of each other to get the maximum number of people as close to the beach as possible.
The crowds of Huntington Beach gather during the day for the sun, surf and sand, then go home for a few hours and hit the clubs that line the beach all night. Tons of bars and music venues and drink specials if you’re visiting any time other than Friday or Saturday night.
Fans of the Fox show “The OC” have flocked to Newport Beach since the series began and the difference is noticeable when you take to the street. All those people trying to match locations on the show with locations on the street means the crowds have not translated as significantly to the beaches as one might think. Bodyboarding mecca “The Wedge” is still only marginally crowded and Balboa beach is still accessible during the day. You’ll have to be well connected and wealthy to live here though, the median income for the area was over $147,000.