#1 Laguna Beach
#1 in Best California Beaches
Laguna Beach is filled to the brim with so many beautiful beaches, it would be a disservice to visit just one. Crescent Bay Beach, Thousand Steps Beach, Main Beach and Crystal Cove State Park are just several of the many standout shorelines this Orange County town offers. The area is home to some top hotels, too.
#2 Pfeiffer Beach
#2 in Best California Beaches
One of the few accessible beaches in Big Sur is also one of the most photogenic in all of California. Travel to this secluded gem to get a snap of its purple sands and dramatic rock formations, especially the iconic Keyhole Rock at sunset.
#3 Coronado Beach
#3 in Best California Beaches
This expansive San Diego coastline is so dreamy, it starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like it Hot." It's popular with families and couples for its calm ocean waters, clean sands and legendary sunsets. Plus, the ocean is only a short distance from the popular Gaslamp Quarter (with top hotels and restaurants) in downtown San Diego.
#4 Carmel Beach
#4 in Best California Beaches
Travel to Carmel Beach to experience central California beauty at its best. Its nearly white sands, rich blue waters and unspoiled cypress trees make it perfect for a long, romantic stroll, while its dog- and drink-friendly policies keep the atmosphere laid-back and fun.
#5 Crystal Cove State Park
#5 in Best California Beaches
Crystal Cove State Park is made up of multiple beaches, including the popular Moro Beach and Pelican Point. In addition to scenic shorelines, the park features 18 miles of hiking trails across 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness, giving travelers the opportunity to experience the best of Southern California’s gorgeous geography in one destination.
#6 Newport Beach
#6 in Best California Beaches
Newport Beach has a similar vibe to Laguna Beach, though it has more going on. Home to thousands more residents, Newport Beach features miles of beaches as well as plenty more amenities, including the Lido Marina Village and Balboa Fun Zone amusement park. While here, hit up favorites such as Corona del Mar State Beach, Newport Municipal Beach and, for experienced surfers, The Wedge.
#7 Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
#7 in Best California Beaches
Located about 16 miles north of downtown San Diego, Torrey Pines’ untouched wilderness feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of California’s second largest city. The reserve is famous for its rare Torrey Pine trees, but is more a point of interest for its scenic trails, incredible vistas and breathtaking beaches, which are backed by striking sky-high coastal cliffs.
#8 El Matador State Beach
#8 in Best California Beaches
Tucked between the mansions and luxury hotels of Malibu, El Matador's low-key location and craggy, coastal terrain will make you feel as if you've happened upon someplace special. This Pacific Coast Highway pit stop is a local favorite for its secluded feel, multiple tide pools and striking ocean caves.
#9 Santa Monica
#9 in Best California Beaches
Santa Monica is everything you'd imagine a Southern California beach to be. This 245-acre beach features its iconic amusement park pier, a boardwalk that stretches all the way to Venice and incredible views of the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. Splurge on an oceanfront hotel room for a luxury experience.
#10 Venice Beach
#10 in Best California Beaches
This iconic Los Angeles shoreline is unique in that it isn't famous for its actual beach, but rather the quirky inhabitants that congregate there. A stroll along the boardwalk will open you up to the sights and sounds of Venice's eccentric personality.