The Golden State, as it is also known, California is blessed with an incredible coastline that is home to a host of beautiful beaches that are among the best in the United States.
Very much a trendsetter when it comes to popular culture, many people imagine California to be a laidback place that is a paradise for surfers; its scenic beaches with their chilled out vibe certainly promote this image.
With world-famous cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego located in the state, as well as renowned attractions like Beverly Hills and the Golden Gate Bridge, California is an amazing place to visit, with something for everyone to enjoy.
Offering the most enticing mix of gorgeous scenery, vibrant cities, and friendly, welcoming people; California and its beautiful beaches are the places to be.
10. Paradise Cove[SEE MAP]
Nestled away amidst some dramatic looking craggy cliffs and tree-covered hills, the aptly named Paradise Cove is a lovely little spot to visit. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the state.
Due to its popularity, there is now a fee to enter the scenic beach; while this has kept some of the crowds at bay, it can still get a bit crowded on weekends.
With its sun-kissed golden sands, beautiful views out over the Pacific, and welcoming, chilled out atmosphere, Paradise Cove more than lives up to its name.
9. Manhattan Beach[SEE MAP]
With a very upscale feel to it, Manhattan Beach is one of the most expensive places to live in Los Angeles County; that comes as no surprise, as its setting on the Pacific coast is absolutely stunning.
As well as the wonderful beach, visitors will find a plethora of beautiful houses on display, as well as lots of fancy restaurants, trendy boutiques, and some very stylish hotels. At weekends, it can get a bit crowded, as the rich and fabulous descend upon Manhattan Beach to enjoy all that it has to offer up.
In addition to all this, you’re only a half hour drive away from the center of Los Angeles. So if you want to combine your trip to the beach with a look at the Hollywood sign, a visit to Beverly Hills and a walk down Sunset Boulevard, this is the perfect location to do so.
8. Natural Bridges State Beach[SEE MAP]
One of the best beaches in the whole of the Golden State, Natural Bridges State Beach is so named because of its beautiful rock arch that is so impressive to gaze upon. There is a very untouched and wild look about the place.
Located in a lovely state park just outside of Santa Cruz, the beach has loads of wildlife on show. Many people come here to watch the spectacular monarch butterfly migration which takes place every year when thousands upon thousands of them flutter their way through the park.
Due to its proximity to Santa Cruz, there is loads to see and do in the local area. After taking in the delightful views and lounging on the beach for a while, visitors can choose to go hiking, surfing or even head off to explore the city itself.
Well worth a visit, the desolate and unspoiled appearance of Natural Bridges State Park will make you feel like you’re a million miles away from civilization, so is ideal for people looking to immerse themselves in nature.
7. La Jolla Shores Beach[SEE MAP]
One of the best beaches in the state, La Jolla Shores Beach’s expansive golden sands are bordered by some spectacular sea cliffs, and its location on the outskirts of San Diego makes it a popular weekend getaway.
While it can get a little crowded, it is well worth checking out. There is loads to do here in addition to the beautiful scenery and sweeping coastal views.
Especially popular with swimmers and kayakers, the waters that border the beach are rich in marine life, so it is worth renting or bringing along some snorkeling gear when visiting La Jolla Shores Beach.
Lots of great restaurants, bars, and hotels can be found nearby, and many visitors to the beach combine their stay with a visit to San Diego so that they can enjoy all that the city has to offer.
6. Arroyo Burro Beach[SEE MAP]
Located in the county of Santa Barbara and hemmed in by rugged coastal bluffs, Arroyo Burro Beach is a beautiful yet desolate place to visit.
The large waves that pound the coast only add to its wild appearance. Many surfers come here to ride the swells, while locals come to walk their dogs.
The beach has lots of facilities on offer, so you’ll often come across people having a picnic, firing up a barbecue, or fishing in the shallows. For those with a sharp eye, whales can sometimes be spotted off the coast.
With some large parks lying just a stone’s throw away from its golden sands, Arroyo Burro Beach is perfect for people looking to immerse themselves in nature.
5. Mission Beach[SEE MAP]
Lying between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, the thin strip of land that separates the two is actually man-made and contains the fabulous Mission Beach, which has a number of different sides to it.
At one end lies Belmont Park. This amusement park has loads of hair-raising rides, as well as lots of shops and restaurants to boot. Away from what it offers up in terms of entertainment, the beach has a wealth of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from swimming and surfing to volleyball and watersports.
After a blissful day spent lounging on the beautiful beach, many people sample the lively nightlife at the numerous bars and clubs lining the beachfront or enjoy a sumptuous meal while watching the sunset over the Pacific.
Located in the westernmost part of San Diego, Mission Beach offers up the perfect package of gorgeous golden sands and vibrant city life.
4. Carmel Beach[SEE MAP]
The dazzling white sands of Carmel Beach are lined with picturesque green hills, and strolling amid the spectacular scenery while taking in the ocean views is a lovely experience.
Certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in California, Carmel Beach is blessed with incredible sunsets and is much quieter and more relaxed than many other beaches in the state.
As it lies right next to Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are many restaurants, bars, and hotels for visitors to check out – although, in truth, most people come for the solitude and the spectacular scenery.
3. Huntington Beach[SEE MAP]
Nicknamed ‘Surf City,’ it should come as no surprise that Huntington Beach is renowned around the world for its fabulous surf spots. So of course, it just had to feature in a Beach Boys song at some point.
Beautiful to behold, the palm tree-lined beach stretches for over fifteen kilometers and the gigantic waves that crash dramatically just offshore mean that it is very much a mecca for surfers.
Away from the water, the city itself has loads going on. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs to go out in after a busy day spent sunbathing or strolling along the pier.
2. Santa Monica State Beach[SEE MAP]
Stretching along most of Santa Monica’s coastline, this lively beach is great fun to head to. There is so much going on here, and its fantastic location means that you’re only a stone’s throw away from such renowned sights as Beverly Hills and Venice Beach.
The delightful Santa Monica Pier, for instance, has lots of amusement rides on offer that will keep the whole family entertained. Along the beachfront, there is a multitude of great restaurants, bars, and cafes for you to check out.
While simply kicking back and relaxing on the beach is divine, there are loads of beach activities to try your hand at, such as volleyball, surfing, and swimming, alongside relaxing yoga classes.
There is a very laidback atmosphere about the place, and Santa Monica itself is known for its alternative scene. Indeed, there are lots of great little art galleries scattered around town and many street performers putting on shows along the boardwalk.
1. Venice Beach[SEE MAP]
With its lively yet laidback atmosphere that manages to be both fun and festive at the same time, Venice Beach’s boardwalk is a special place to visit. Here, you really will come across people from all walks of life.
Whether it’s streets performers putting on a crazy and exciting show, artists sketching caricatures of people, or bodybuilders working out along the beachfront, Venice Beach welcomes everyone and is renowned for its alternative culture.
Home to a number of artists, activists, and eccentrics, the beach itself is gorgeous and is a favorite haunt amongst Los Angeles residents. Tourists come here to enjoy its lively Ocean Front Walk and the sweet little canals that lie just behind the beachfront.
Although the area has become slightly gentrified in recent years, it still retains many of the delightful little shops, atmospheric cafes, and hip coffee bars that help make it Venice Beach.