One question I get a lot – even a couple of months ago while at a conference in Los Angeles – is, can you go spend the day on the beach in LA? Well, the answer is yes – but it’s not exactly Hawaii. The beaches in LA are a lot busier and they’re actually seaside communities, so instead of resorts and pools you have boutique B&Bs and boardwalks with quirky shops.
Over the years I’ve been to several of the beaches in the LA area; here are 3 personal favourites.
Pictured above, Santa Monica is probably the most famous and most popular beach in Los Angeles, making it also one of the most crowded.
You have to get a photo of the famous Ferris Wheel at the end of Santa Monica pier. But once you’ve got some time in the sand, enjoy a walk along the promenade – the streets along the Santa Monica shore are full of interesting shops, ice cream parlours and taco bars. Despite being so busy, once you’ve gotten your car parked, Santa Monica is pretty relaxed, with lots of folks just enjoying the fresh Pacific breeze.
Also rumour has it that the “most English bar in LA” can be found in Santa Monica, the Cock N Bull Pub. It gets busy on game days.
Also very well known and always bustling on a weekend is Venice Beach, which is uniquely Los Angeles. Where else can you get your choice of tattoo parlours, followed by a stop at an official marijuana clinic, grab a corn on the cob while watching people work out in a beachfront gym, then enjoy the sunset on the beach?
You have to see Venice Beach to believe it. The curiosities and oddities are, well, weird. The beach tends to also be busy with bonfires, dancers, and all sorts of other tomfoolery so if you are wanting the relaxed beach scene, this isn’t it.
You might be wondering, if it’s called Venice, where are the canals? Just head over to Washington Blvd and Venice Blvd – there actually are canals here, and you can walk along them and enjoy the million dollar homes that line either side.
Huntington Beach is south of downtown LA, in Orange County. By this very fact, many would say that it isn’t actually in LA, but if you’ve come all this way, I’d encourage you to check out this part of the shore, because the “beach cities” as they are called offer lots of great restaurants and food, as well as a decidedly more relaxed pace than further up the coast.
Huntington is probably my favourite in Orange County; it has a pier where you can enjoy the sunset while having a milkshake at one of those old fashioned places, but also downtown Huntington boasts some nice shops and more great restaurants, such as the Sugar Shack (great breakfast!).
Final Note: You should be aware that southern California can be very toasty and warm even in February. But, it can also be breezy and chilly in July. Year-round it always gets a bit cold at night, so pack in layers regardless of when you’re travelling.
Posted : Friday, February 24th, 2012 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.