Best in the West – California Beaches

We’re halfway through Great Outdoors Month! Hard to believe, huh? But wait. We’ve got plenty of cool outdoor opportunities still on tap. Today we’re doing a whirlwind tour of some of the best beaches in southern California.

Ready? Set? Let’s go!


Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach – Huntington Beach

World-class beaches. Superb surfing. Average annual temperatures from the mid-60s to about 80 degrees. Occasional rain showers averaging less than 12 inches a year. Oh yeah.

Located across Pacific Coast Highway from HB State Beach is the 114-acre Huntington Beach Wetlands, operated by the Department of Fish and Game. Great hiking along four multi-use trails into nearby Bolsa Chica State Beach. Pro tip: Check out Ruby’s Diner on the Huntington Beach pier.

Dog Beach

The only beach in Huntington Beach where you can take your dog. 

Mother’s Beaches

Nestled inside choice beachfront real estate in Huntington Beach’s Huntington Harbour, this network of five small, mellow beaches features playgrounds, grass, bathrooms, picnic tables, and warm, gentle water without big waves. Mother’s beaches are shallow, sheltered, and maintained by the city as part of its parks system. Just right for moms with little ones. Our favorites were Seabridge Park and Trinidad Island.

Corona del Mar State Beach

Great swimming, surfing and diving at this half-mile long sandy beach framed by cliffs and a rock jetty that forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor.

Laguna Beach

Seven miles of picturesque sand and surf located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Great hiking options!


Point Loma and the Point Loma Peninsula

There are no real “beaches” in Point Loma. But if you’re in San Diego, the Point Loma Peninsula is a must-see. Featuring Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, the Cabrillo National Monument, Shelter Island, Harbor Island, and stunning views of the San Diego skyline. A family favorite since just after the earth’s crust cooled.

Mission Bay Park

If I had a nickel for every time I sailed or picnicked at Mission Bay, I could retire to the south of France. Tomorrow.

This is the largest aquatic park of its kind in the country. MBP has27 miles of shoreline, 19 of which are sandy beaches with eight official swimming areas.

Silver Strand State Beach and  Coronado Cays Park

Known as “the Strand” by locals, this state beach perches on a narrow seven mile spit of sand that protects San Diego Bay from the sea. Swimming, overnight camping, bike paths, surf and sun.

The Cays is just down the road from the Strand. Six spacious beach acres with almost no trees. Includes a playground, baseball diamond and tennis courts. Nice option for a family picnic.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

This reserve is one of the wildest 1,500 acres of land on the southern California coast. It remains pretty much as it was before San Diego was developed — including the maritime chaparral, the rare Torrey pine, miles of unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds. Great ocean views and hiking along craggy bluffs overlooking the Big Blue.

La Jolla Shores & Cove

“La Jolla” means the jewel, and this small beach tucked between sandstone cliffs is one of the best. Located in north San Diego, it’s also one of the most photographed beaches in southern California. Warm, crystal clear water with visibility that sometimes exceeds thirty feet.

The Cove teems with hordes and masses come summer. That’s why a winter visit may be just right. (Caveat: parking is at a premium on any sunny day – which is pretty much most days in San Diego. Either arrive early or plan to spend extra time trolling for a parking spot.)


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