Los Angeles county is home to more than 30 miles of sun-drenched beaches. These beaches are open to the public and, aside from parking fees, are free. Here’s a guide to Los Angeles’ free beaches, beginning with the northern part of the county and traveling south.

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El Pescador, La Piedra and El Matador Beaches

Located 10 miles west (upcoast) of Malibu on Highway 1
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=633
818-880-3063

These rugged, isolated beaches are part of Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. Located a few miles north of Malibu, they are considered by many to be the most romantic beaches in Los Angeles. They’re great spots to explore, picnic and watch the sunset, but swimmers should proceed with caution since there are no lifeguards on duty.

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Santa Monica State Beach

Located along Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=624
818-880-3063

This popular beach is famous for its iconic wooden pier, home to a carousel, aquarium, Ferris wheel and small roller coaster, as well as seafood restaurants, shops and snack bars. Beneath the pier is two miles of family-friendly beach with lifeguards, plenty of parking, restrooms, showers and a paved beach path. There are also volleyball and basketball courts available.

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Venice Beach

Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291
www.laparks.org/venice/venice.htm
323-644-6661

For those who love people watching, it doesn’t get any better than Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk. Street entertainers, vendors, tourists and locals provide a lively mix of humanity. There’s also Muscle Beach, site of an outdoor weight room that was once the hangout of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Venice Beach also has a fishing pier and a 3-mile stretch of sandy beach.

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Manhattan State Beach

The Strand, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
www.beaches.co.la.ca.us/bandh/beaches/Manhattan.htm
310-379-8471

Any guide to Los Angeles’ free beaches must include Manhattan, the beach that inspired the music of the Beach Boys and was the birthplace of beach volleyball. Ample parking, good surfing, lifeguards, restrooms and showers make this one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles. A paved path with views of Santa Monica Bay is a favorite spot for bicyclists, skaters and beach walkers.

(credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Hermosa City Beach

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
www.hermosabch.org/visitors
310-318-0239

Hermosa’s wide, white-sand beach makes Hermosa City Beach one of the most beautiful in Los Angeles. Hermosa is a popular spot for beach volleyball competitions and surfing. A fishing pier and plenty of shops and cafés are popular destinations for beach goers. There’s also a walkway known as the Strand that runs along the length of the beach.

-By Catie Watson

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