5 Favorite Beaches in Southern California

Living in Southern California definitely has its perks (particularly if you don’t have to drive in traffic to get to work!) There are miles of beaches with a variety of fun things to do along the coast. And did I mention the food? It’s like the food genie has visited the California Coast reminding us of all of the wonderful food our state produces (instead of basic food offerings of the past.)

I have to admit, I’ve had many meetings with my toes in the sand. I adore clients who like to be out in nature because it makes them think differently. I also like to bring my planner and a notebook to set my own ideas free when I go with The Crew.

I thought it would be fun to let you in on our favorite beach spots so if you ever make it out this way, you can enjoy them too! Here is a list of my top 5 favorite beaches in Southern California:

Descanso Beach, Catalina

I recently visited Catalina after a 20 year hiatus. We used to sail out there when I was a teenager and spend our days on shore having fun in the sun. This time I took a ferry that took about an hour.

Oh how I fell in love with Descanso Beach. You can rent a plush chair or cabana and enjoy the crystal clear water snorkeling or swimming. Restaurants are right there along with cute showers and dressing rooms. (I wish they had beaches like this on the mainland!) It is a MUST DO if you go to Catalina. (And if you want to get married there, hit me up, I’ll plan it with you!)

Huntington Beach

Huntington is a very long, flat beach with miles of parking and sandy shores. The pier is central to the location along with the eateries and stores along Main Street. Surf competitions and beach volleyball tournaments happen regularly on the South side of the pier. The US Open happens every summer bringing millions to the sandy beaches. If you are a foodie, you should visit Pacific City. There are so many different eateries with a relaxed social scene, you’ll never leave hungry. Huntington is split up into 2 beach zones: Huntington City Beach and Huntington State Beach. If you go into one parking lot for the day, your pass doesn’t work in the other lot. The zone closest to the pier is Huntington City Beach where most of the fire rings are for bonfires. Locals in Huntington Beach are generally kind and helpful and there are 4 sizable hotels right across from PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) if you want to vacation there.

Santa Monica

Another fun beach to visit for food, fun and sun is the Santa Monica State Beach. There is ample sand and a fun pier area to enjoy to keep you busy all day long. I would get there early so you have a place to park and enjoy the beach before it gets too hot. Once you’ve had your fill of rays, hit the pier and have some fun before you enjoy shopping and dining at the Third Street Promenade or along Ocean Avenue. There are more than a dozen hotels located near the pier if you want to spend more time here. Traffic getting in and out of this fun beach destination gets pretty busy so wear your patience pants!

Laguna Beach

There are several smaller beaches in the Laguna area. It is important to watch the tides when visiting any other beach aside from Main Beach as some of them completely disappear in high tide. I’ve planned two weddings that happened at Moss Street Beach (a popular photo location as well) and I adore Victoria Street Beach because of the La Tour Tower that looks like a castle built next to a cliff. (It is actually a private staircase for the house on top of the cliff so you can’t go inside, but photos of it are amazing at sunset!) You have to take stairs to get down to the beach, like most beaches in Laguna, but once you get there, it is longer beach that stretches in front of private homes. Hotels, restaurants and even art galleries are located along this stretch of Coast Highway.

Coronado Beach

I haven’t been to many beaches in San Diego County, but Coronado stands out in my mind because it has a variety of elements that make it charming. Yes, there is one of the coolest beach hotels in San Diego on the main beach area known as the “Hotel Del” but there is also areas with rocks that make cute tide pools, wispy seagrass and a lovely view of the coastline. If you want a fire ring at this beach, plan on getting there early.

Basic beach rules:

  • Get there early for the best views of the shoreline
  • If you want to use a fire ring, get there as soon as the parking lot opens during the busy season. You’ll have to take turns sitting at the ring throughout the day.
  • Wear sunscreen. You’ll last 30 minutes in the sun without it.
  • Bring a hat or sunglasses. The reflection off of the ocean can be pretty bright!
  • Bring cash, there are snack shops and rental bikes available
  • Check event calendars for events you may want to attend (or avoid)
  • Bring a chair and umbrella and sometimes even a sweatshirt. Beach breezes can be quite cool.
  • The California ocean temperatures are cool, so if you are dreaming of swimming in a warm ocean, try a flight to Hawaii