The best beaches will always comes down to who you are and what YOU like but, here is a list of my favorite beaches in SoCal. To narrow it down I kept the beaches all within an hour or so of each other. What do I even look for in a beach? Soft sand, fun environment, private, clean sand and water, a pier to walk, parking options, shopping options, bars and food? I’ll let you know which beaches have which things and why I love them so much!
1. Laguna Beach
This beach is my all time favorite. It has multiple private coves, soft sand, and beautiful (and clean) water. This beach has amazing scenery and a few little places to get Instagram worthy shots. For example, The Victoria Beach Lighthouse and right next to it this giant manmade round pool that fills with water from the ocean. Under The Cliff is a mural wall in the middle of the beach. All over Laguna Beach there is places to take cute photos. This beach also has a Main St. to eat, drink, shop and relax, which I love. This beach also has basketball courts and a deck area for onlookers to play and watch. Parking is pretty much all over, it is just about how far you want to walk and how much you want to pay. Most spots are meter parking and then there are lots, but if you’re lucky you will come across a free spot. This beach is my favorite overall because there is just a lot of options to see and do. If you’re looking for a more private beach area, I recommend Victoria Beach, but the side under the Montague. I park on Wesley street for free and get onto the beach by walking through the Montague beach access.
2. Seal Beach
Seal Beach is not as commonly known to tourists because it is in between two major beaches. This beach is also a little more private and not so crowded with people. The sand is soft and the water is clean. It also includes the food and shopping places along a main st. but it is just smaller and has less shops than Laguna. Parking is hard. It has parking all along the street with shops but that is the majority of parking options. There are a couple of lots but on busy days it is hard to find a spot. This is a cute little beach if you’re into quiet and relaxing beach days, it is mostly a local secret! The restaurant on the corner, The Hangout , was actually on a TV show spotting terrible employees but nonetheless its a good place to eat haha. I love the Cold Stone (dessert addicted), all the beach shops and that little nick knack souvenir store.
3. Newport Beach
Newport beach is really all about the nightlife. This beach is right before Laguna and it has a similar environment to Seal beach. It is very calm with a little street of shops and food. Parking is mostly meter parking along the streets and there are a few lots. This beach itself is nice and clean. Newport has most of its shops along the beach instead of perpendicular to it, so you will stay close to the beach while eating and shopping. It is a little busy with people during summer days and even busier at night. The restaurants and bars do very well around here.
4. Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica beach is the beach most tourists think is “thee” beach of LA. I guess that is true as most others are more Orange County beaches! This beach is very popular and very busy because it has a lot to do and it is a tourist hot spot. The parking lots are huge to accommodate this but there is not many options for free street parking. Most free spots are far from the beach, time limited and near shops. That being said, paying in the parking lot is worth it when you are close to the pier. The pier has all the arcade games and rides, which is what makes it so popular. The beach itself is pretty clean and very busy. The shops are a bit of a walk but still close by. This beach is good if you want to meet a lot of different people, go to the pier for some fun and say you have been to Santa Monica beach!
5. Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is the beach I always went as a kid and teenager. It was only about 20 minutes from my house so it was the obvious choice. I will say this beach is last not because it is the least exciting or anything but I have just been there SO much it is not my absolute favorite! This beach is still awesome and it has its perks. This beach is huge and has a lot of different things to do. Main st. has a ton of different foods, shops and hotels. The pier of course has a Ruby’s at the end, where a lot of people fish. Surfing is huge here and the U.S Open is held here annually around July/August. When the U.S open comes it is a few little stores and pop up shops on the beach. It used to be a way bigger deal but the partying got out of hand. Anyway, parking is also plentiful. You can pay for parking close to the sand, find meter parking on the streets or find free parking in neighborhoods. I’m a cheapo so I always park somewhere for free to the left of main st. if your back is against the ocean.
Now, there are plenty more beaches in SoCal, but I tried to narrow it down to my personal top 5. Some beaches like Malibu, La Jolla and Hermosa are amazing as well but I just personally haven’t visited them enough to give the full scoop. Really any beach you pick is a good choice and if you don’t like it just head another mile down PCH and find the next beach! Leave in the comments down below your favorite beaches and why. Thanks so much for reading and subscribe via email to never miss a post 🙂
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