4 Beaches to Check Out in Los Angeles, California

As many people reading this know, I recently relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment (no, I don’t want to be an actor, singer or producer).

Outside of entertainment, one of the reasons I was curious about the Left Coast was the beaches. LA, I thought, was a city where you could go to work all day and be on the beach at night. While that is possible, I’ve found that the traffic in LA is so horrendous that it’s more difficult than most people would like to do on a daily basis. After work, from my office in Beverly Hills to Santa Monica Beach (the closest) would be a little under an hour in traffic. Oh, and did I mention it’s only eight miles? Yeah, that’s not fun to do on a daily basis.

But before I started my job, I decided to do a little tour of the beaches myself. While LA isn’t exactly known for its beaches, there’s still much to see when visiting them.

One of my first stops was Manhattan Beach, a slightly more upscale beach town with higher priced restaurants and shops right along The Strand (or bike path as you know it as). It was much less crowded than Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach to its north. But being Southern California, there was still a litter of surfers, bikers and sunbathers enjoying the always perfect, 72 degree weather.

Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach
It’s also a great spot to play paddle ball. Although my friend Bobby will tell you I’m not very good.

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Manhattan Beach
The sunsets at any of the beaches in LA are a must see. I’d say 8 times out of 10, you will see a gorgeous, bright pink and orange sunset. Kind of like this, from Hermosa Beach.

Sunset in October at Hermosa Beach
Sunset in October at Hermosa Beach
That was in October! Pretty impressive.

Santa Monica is definitely the most touristy and crowded of the beaches in Los Angeles. This seems to be because it’s the closest to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the other tourist destinations in LA. The famous Santa Monica pier probably has something to do with it too. On the pier you’ll find rides, restaurants and t-shirt shops. But expect to pay HIGH prices. It is a tourist trap after all.

Muscle Beach at Santa Monica Beach

There is a huge playground in Santa Monica as well as a Muscle Beach. Each time I go to Santa Monica Beach there always seems to be something new going on. Whether it’s a huge dance party on the beach or a mass of tight rope walkers practicing and teaching each other new tricks, there’s always something to stop and watch on the beach.

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Muscle Beach

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Swinging at Santa Monica Beach
If you know anything about LA, you’ve probably heard of the Venice Beach boardwalk. It is….a sight to be seen. There are tons of street performers, t-shirt shops, food stands and weed doctors. If you don’t know what a weed doctor is, it’s a doctor who can give you a marijuana card. Marijuana is legal in California so basically anyone can go to one of these doctors, say their ailment and get a card. From what I’ve heard, it’s pretty easy. I met someone who has a weed card for asthma. California, you are a weird place. Expect to find lots of stoned people at Venice Beach.

The Green Doctors on the Venice Beach boardwalk
The Green Doctors on the Venice Beach boardwalk
The boardwalk also has a freakshow which Bobby says is very entertaining, but I haven’t made it there yet. He tells me of bearded ladies and five-legged dogs so I think one day soon I’ll have to see if he’s telling the truth.

The Venice Beach boardwalk is also a popular spot for skateboarders due to the massive skate park there. Pretty much any time of day you can see a mix of experienced and beginner skaters there (and a massive crowd). It’s definitely an activity not to be missed.

Skateboarders at Venice Beach
Skateboarders at Venice Beach
There’s also a rollerskating area where people do tricks or just have a massive rollerskating dance which was awesome to watch! The skaters were really into it.

A rollerskating dance party at Venice Beach
A rollerskating dance party at Venice Beach
A couple streets down from the beach in Venice is the famous Venice Canals. If you’ve seen the movie “Valentine’s Day” starring Ashton Kutcher, this is where he lives in the movie. Remember when he runs outside onto the little bridge to announce, “She said yes!” Yeah, that’s the Venice Canals. A very welcomed quiet, peaceful area in LA.

Venice Canals
Venice Canals
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Outside of just going to the beach, another great way to enjoy them is to bike along The Strand. This is a bike path that goes all the way from Santa Monica to just past Redondo Beach, a total of about 40 miles roundtrip.

When a friend of mine from my backpacking travels this summer was in town, we decided to rent bikes in Santa Monica and just see how far we could go. We paid I believe $18 for the day and we made it almost all the way to Manhattan Beach, a total of about 24 miles round trip. I was pretty exhausted by the end but it was a great way to see each of the beach towns. Pro tip: Don’t rent bikes ON the Santa Monica Pier. They’re much more expensive! Try to find a place just off the pier and away from the touristy areas.

A post bike ride sneaker selfie:

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If you want a shorter bike ride, the most popular route is from Santa Monica Beach to the next beach south, Venice (or vice versa). There are tons of places to rent bikes around this area as it’s where most tourists are.

My friend Bobby (an LA native) and I rented a tandem bike one Sunday afternoon and did the ride from Venice to Santa Monica where we stopped on the beach for sunset before heading back. It was my first time on a tandem bike and it was a little scary! But it was also kind of nice because Bobby did most of the pedaling and I got to sit back and enjoy my surroundings!

Tandem bike riding from Venice Beach to Santa Monica Beach
Tandem bike riding from Venice Beach to Santa Monica Beach

Handstands on Santa Monica Beach at sunset
Handstands on Santa Monica Beach at sunset
I haven’t made it up to Malibu yet which is northwest of Los Angeles. It takes a bit longer to get to so it’s more difficult. I’m hoping to get up there soon so will update when I can!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lovely place in the world and great photos!!!

    1. It really is Richard! I always forget that my own backyard (the USA) is a beautiful place to explore.

  2. Siobhan says:

    Hi! Just found your blog a couple days ago and honestly read the whole thing in one night! I’ve found it so informative and inspiring so thanks so much for sharing your adventures! I’ve done a lot of travelling in Asia, USA and Australia but I was never had much interest in Europe until reading your blog and realising how many amazing places are close by! I live in Ireland, just a couple hours from the Cliffs of Moher and I’ve never been, can you believe that? Your beautiful photos have definitely inspired me to make that a road trip this summer! I hope that you keep updating and I’ll keep checking back! 🙂

    1. Siobhan thank you so much for your comment! I am so happy that my adventures, both bad and good, have inspired you. You have inspired me to keep writing! You should definitely check out the Cliffs of Moher. If I’ve learned anything since returning home from Europe, it’s that you shouldn’t neglect your own backyard. Road trips are the best! Enjoy your travels 🙂

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