With 72 miles of coastline and approximately 330 days of sunshine, tourists and locals flock to the beaches of Los Angeles. However, a few spots stand out above the rest.

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Venice Beach

1800 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

Nestled between Marina Del Rey to the south and Santa Monica to the north, Venice Beach is one of the most popular, albeit eclectic, tourist destinations in Southern California. Typically defined by the street performers and artists lining Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach is also home to 3 miles of sandy coastline, so it’s popular with swimmers, sunbathers and surfers alike. Visitors can enjoy a day on the beach or a stroll down the boardwalk, or engage in a quick workout with local bodybuilders at Muscle Beach.

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Santa Monica Beach


Just north of Venice Beach is Santa Monica State Beach along Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica between Venice and Malibu. Three and a half miles of white sandy shoreline stretch along either side of the historic Santa Monica Pier. Ample parking, well kept restrooms and several beach-side cafÈs make this a family-friendly beach. Visitors can bike, Rollerblade or walk along a paved path. Several volleyball courts lining the beach are open to the public and free of charge. Stop by the Annenberg Community Beach House to rent chairs and umbrellas, enjoy a dip in the community pool or take the kids to the water playground built just for them. Santa Monica State Beach is a Los Angeles favorite.

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Malibu Beaches

Zuma Beach
30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265

With 21 miles of coastline, it’s no doubt that Malibu is home to some of the most scenic beaches in Los Angeles. Located just off Pacific Coast Highway, 1 mile north of Kanan Dune Road, lies Zuma County Beach. “Zuma,” as the locals call it, is the largest beach in LA County. The excellent waves make this a popular spot for boogie boarders and body surfers. Clean water, wide-open space, great facilities and a kid-friendly snack bar make this a Malibu hot spot on the weekends.

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

El Matador State Beach

2215 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265

For those visitors who want to live like a local, skip the crowds at Zuma Beach and head straight up PCH to El Matador State Beach. Perhaps one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets, this jewel of a beach is flanked by rock formations and sea caves at the base of Malibu’s sandstone cliffs. Visitors should come prepared, as they’ll have to hike down a trailhead and steep staircase to get to the beach itself. Beachgoers should also pack their own food and drinks, as there are no facilities and the only restroom is at the top of the trailhead. However, it’s worth the trek because El Matador is both breathtaking and beautiful.

– Rachel Whitty Hajj

Comments (2)
  1. Paul says:

    We still need to improve the quality of our beaches. I’ve seen the County Beach’s and Harbor people work to keep the beaches clean(they work hard), but the County really needs to step up and begin doing some serious work on remodeling the facilities. Our standards in the US are quite low compared to Europe. That Food shack that’s been at Zuma is in dire need of remodeling, seaweed and trash should be sifted more often throughout the week and parking should be free.

  2. Ossie says:

    El Matador, El Pescador and one other adjoining beach have steep little dirt trails down to relatively isolated beaches. You pay by sticking the envelopes in the metal boxes. The restrooms are the plastic variety. There are steep cliffs overlooking the ocean where you can picnic. It’s kind of a workout to walk down to the beaches and back, but there are picturesque rock formations.

    I’ll take parking on the street during the weekday at Zuma any day.

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