The Top California Beaches that extend across the Los Angeles coastline can be very entertaining -- attracting celebrities, athletes, body builders, bike riders, artists and more. Yes, you'll see plenty of crowds, but it's also not too hard to find a quiet beach, even near a city of more than 3.5 million people. You just have to know where to look, and when to go to find a Top California Beach that suits your style.
Above: Beach-front homes line the sand at world-famous Malibu Beach, north of Los Angeles.
Top Los Angeles Area Beaches
We're just starting to put our top California beaches list together for L.A., but here are our favorite coastal spots that come to mind -- the ones you won't want to miss on any trip to Southern California.
Manhattan Beach - Hot spot for beach volleyball and surfing. It's where the locals go to unwind.
Torrance Beach - There's easy access to this centrally-located public beach. Find the hidden little cove at the north end -- near the Palos Verdes cliffs at the end of the strand.
Palos Verdes Beach -- Big, stunning views. Beautiful area to visit.
Above: The Point Vicente Lighthouse in beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes.
Above: El Matador State Beach is a bit of a hidden gem in the L.A. area. Located near Malibu, this is one of our favorite Top California Beaches, featuring stunning views from the cliffs above. A steep dirt pathway leads to the beach.
Venice Beach - Busy boardwalk, canals -- very happening place -- something to experience!
Santa Monica Beach and Pier - Amusement park, food, crowds, open at night -- fun! See photo below.
Sorrento Beach - Lots of sand and great volleyball!
Malibu - World famous stretch of beach north of L.A. It's where the stars go. Carbon Beach in Malibu is otherwise known as "Billionaire Beach" and offers public access and a front row seat to the waterfront property owned by the world's wealthiest.
Above: Torrance Beach is a local favorite. There's easy access to this centrally-located public beach. Find the hidden little cove at the north end -- near the Palos Verdes cliffs at the end of the strand.
Zuma Beach - A classic top California beach, Zuma Beach is very clean with plenty of sand and room to move around. Volleyball courts, FREE parking and facilities. It is know for hosting premier surfing events and is a popular filming location. Swim with caution: watch for lifeguard warnings about dangerous rip currents.
El Matador State Beach - Beautiful hidden gem! Cliffs, boulders, caves -- lovely scenery. Not ideal for the handicapped. Parking is available. See photo above to get a glimpse of this stunning beach.
Leo Carrillo State Beach Camping and surfing hot spot, away from it all, with coves, cliffs and trails nearby. You might recognize this area as the backdrop for a number of commercials, films and TV shows. Scroll down to see a photo of this often uncrowded beach (especially in the off season).
Above: Leo Carrillo State Beach. Believe it or not, this beautiful, quiet beach near Malibu is a short drive from Los Angeles. During summer months, you'll see more crowds, particularly surfers, but it's still fairly remote and peaceful by Los Angeles standards. Nice place to pitch your tent and camp, also. Camping is just inland -- a short walk across the coast highway.
The Los Angeles Coastal Experience
Driving along Pacific Coast Highway in the Los Angeles area -- from Malibu in the north, past Santa Monica and Venice -- provides a highlight reel of sights for any trip to California. The coast ranges from rugged bluffs overlooking quiet coves in the north, to wide expanses of sand lined by busy highways as well as parks, scenic overlooks, boardwalks and plenty to see and do. Santa Monica and Venice Beach are action-packed L.A. beaches that offer people watching and beach activities for everyone. Once you get to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, you'll see a more subdued, residential side to the coast. Lots of spectacular homes line the coastal hills and look down on the deep blue-green ocean below.
Above: Carbon Beach in Malibu is otherwise known as "Billionaire Beach." This public access beach will give you front row views of where the world's wealthiest live and relax.