15 Best Beach Towns in California

Stretching over 800 miles, California’s coastline houses many of the most stunning beaches in the globe. It will not be an exaggeration to dub these beaches as absolute gems. A handsome sum of dazzling California beach towns dotting in the sun-soaked coastline, make it easy to find out the perfect place to relax and bask in the California sun. If you’re seeking for a destination to have some good time with family and friends or want to experience a dreamy escape from the hustling of everyday life, then this article will guide you to explore the best beach towns in California.

Apart from beach activities and swimming, many of these California beach towns are full of electrifying things like dining, shopping and buzzing nightlife. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful getaway or fun-filled vacation – all the elements of your demand are stored in these ocean-hugging California beach towns.


80 miles beneath the border of Oregon, Trinidad is there along with its picture-perfect peninsulas. This California beach town is mainly acknowledged for the sea. Here, you can hike Trinidad Head (a promontory) to see the whales, go for touching starfish at the Marine Lab of Humboldt State University or you can experience the tide pooling at the Indian Beach. Trinidad Pier will be the perfect spot for you to step up this gorgeously rugged stretched coastline. This is California’s north-most oceanfront pier, renovated in the year of 2012, it extends into the Trinidad Harbor which is a famous crabbing spot.

You can take a walk alongside this cement pier and have some snacks in the Seascape Restaurant. You might also cherish to pass some quality time in the Memorial Lighthouse of Trinidad. If you want to surf and touch the beach sand in the sea then State Beach of Trinidad is standing there as a popular spot and Moonstone Beach is there with its sandy and broad area to welcome you as a beach-comer. These stunning beaches make Trinidad around the top of any list of best beach towns in California.

As a history lover, you will be delighted to explore and learn about the rich heritage of this region. Trinidad is the area in California’s north coast where the first human settlement was made and it was the village of Yurok Indian of Tsurai. In 1775, this was first discovered by the Spanish explorers but most likely it was there for one thousand years. In Patrick’s Point State Park, which is a good place for hiking and camping, you can see the recreated Yurok Village. Lastly don’t forget to pay a visit to the Katy’s Smokehouse or you’ll miss their canned albacore and famous smoked salmon.

Santa Barbara

One of the best beach towns in California is Santa BarbaraWhen you’ll see the curling of Bougainvillea blossom across the red-tiled rooftops, the whale spouts and islands on the horizon, birdsong blending with breeze of ocean – be assured that you’ve started to enjoy the enchanting charms of Santa Barbara. A perfect getaway doesn’t get more perfect than this beach town of California. The adorably small city, ninety miles north from Los Angeles, embraces both Highway 101 and the beaches (and also provides comfortable access of train).

If you are in this town, don’t fail to avail the sandy stretches which is within the easy reach – Rincon Beach Park (about twenty miles south of Santa Barbara city), the Gaviota State Park (around a half-hour’s drive along the coast which offers camping opportunities also) and in Rincon Point you can boast top-class surfing. In between these, there remain spots like Campus Point Beach (part of the notably stunning campus of UC Santa Barbara), Refugio State Beach and the popular dog-friendly beach of Hendry’s, where visitors can enjoy an outstanding seaside dining at Boathouse Restaurant.

Along with beaches and restaurants, you can enjoy whale watching in Santa Barbara Channel (in 2023 it was designated as the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Site). The MOXI or the Museum of Exploration & Innovation is there to dazzle with its re-imagination of the idea of what more a museum can be – especially kids love MOXI’s interactivity. Stepping across the 101, you’ll find the city is full of Spanish architecture (e.g. the Lobero Theatre and the Old Mission Santa Barbara). Beyond these, on the west you’ll see the silent appeal of Goleta and to the east you can find the continuing hills which stretch into the mountains of Santa Ynez.

Santa Cruz

santa cruz California beach townAs a California beach town, Santa Cruz bears a distinctly split features, and both parts stand cool. First, you can find fun for family at the Beach Boardwalk of Santa Cruz, a yesteryear style walkway which is lined with arcades, a historic carousel, corn dogs, and roller coaster made of wood. Then there comes the downtown of Santa Cruz, here you see college students look for vintage and down to earth restaurants with healthy meals made from native ingredients.

The entire beach town is soaked in surf culture and you will find professional surfers look for typical breaks of California at Pleasure Point and Steamer Lane. Hence, the late surfing legend Jack O’Neill, made this beach town of California, Santa Cruz as his home. Moreover, here in Santa Cruz international surfing competitions take place every year.

If you are a nature lover then Santa Cruz could be a perfect launching pad for you. You can take a snaky drive through the Mountains of Santa Cruz to experience the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and its ancient trees along with Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or just, board in a boat from the dock and you could have the best whale watching experience of your life — blues, humpbacks or grays, subject to the time of the year. If you experience more of the nature go about forty eight miles north find out what Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve has to offer. Purisima Creek Canyon will invite you with its lavish ground covered with wildflowers and ferns and creek. You can also catch a beacon for hiking from the preserve’s namesake trees.


Monterey California beachOne can’t fall short of amusing activities while exploring this charming coastal community of the California beach towns. Monterey is one among the West Coast’s unique beach resorts. It attracts the sun-seekers with its north California vibes. Here alike Santa Cruz you’ll get ample opportunities for whale watching, and enjoying the local meals. The rocky and wild shore of the Golden State spreads all around this beach town, presenting myriad tourist spots that are outstanding for exploration. On the northern side, it curves in a horseshoe shape across the big Monterey Bay. To the western side, it extends out towards Point Pinos to meet the Pacific Ocean.

Between those remain the inlets surpassed by pines and cypress trees, with white colored sands and the residence of sea lions. That’s not even stating the mythical beaches starting along Highway 1 and down to the Big Sur and afar. You can also marvel at oceanic life as well as learn to preserve the oceans visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you’re tired now and want to relax then on the Cannery Row lavish waterfront hotels are waiting for you. Here you can enjoy plentiful dining choices and experience a great shopping. Explore a small distance from the beach town and discover many of the world’s best golf courses in the Pebble Beach.


Suppose, there remained merely the beach, it would be adequate for the California beach town Carmel-by-the-sea. But this beach town is more than that. It covers a collective cast of gems which make Carmel a captivating destination to the travel lovers. The community of this beach town in California has exerted a charismatic pull of authors and artists, including Jack London and Sinclair Lewis. Here, in 1914 poet Robinson Jeffers arrived together with his wife.

He called this beach town in California as “our inevitable place,” and built his famous stone Tor House, which now remains open on the weekends for visits. The long history of Carmel-by-the-Sea regarding its creativity and novelty still has its mark. Thus, now Carmel is the home of approximately one hundred art galleries. Walking on the streets discovering them, visitors will also find abundant number of great boutique shops along the Ocean Avenue.

So, apart from art galleries and restaurants, Carmel Village is full with appealing boutiques and a ‘one of its kind’ performing arts center. You can collect fancy pens from Bittner, a popular local shop devoted to nurture the art of writing, or one can pay a visit at Wicks & Wax, a shop for unique and artistic candle. Tourists can take a self-guided visit to the historic Mission of San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, popularly recognized as Carmel Mission, which was established year back to 1770. Now, If you’re curious about a show, there remains the Sunset Cultural Center which was built in year of 1926 initially as a public school. It has had its lovely Modern Gothic external gesture along with a histrionic interior. Today, this center is repurposed for performance hall with extraordinary acoustics. With so much to do for all kinds of beach lovers, Carmel has to be among the best beach towns in California.


The Ventura city, located precisely where the wine country and the lush farm of Central Coast encounters the coast, presenting perfect waves for surfing along with the appeal of a fascinating cooking sight (both drink and food), and exposure to an outstanding national park. The finest local place to catch the perfect surfing wave or merely enjoy the surfing of the experts is the Surfer’s Point. You could try ample number of sandy choices for body surfing and relaxing – from the extensive stretches of the Beach at Harbor Cove the beach along the Ventura Pier. Just exactly beside the sand you can find the downtown.

The center of this beach town is the home to several shops, and many famous farms to fork restaurants and local drinking outlets. After enjoying it all, you should choose Ventura Harbor as your initiation point towards the National Park by traveling the visitor’s center of the park, based here. Rent gear to go to an adventure right from the mainland or prepare a day long outing to the five island archipelago (also known as The American Galapagos).


Extending more than thirty miles alongside the Highway One and Pacific, Malibu has reached almost to a mythical status amongst the beach towns of California. For this one thing, it might allure top athletes and Hollywood celebrities who live here in their oceanfront homes.

While this might sound special, there also remains a sufficient amount of Malibu charms for tourists to enjoy. Considered of having most faultless waves anywhere here –Zuma Beach, dubbed as the sun magnet to the locals as well as families, the nearby Surfrider Beach, just by the Malibu Pier, is also effortlessly accessible. In winter, at the northern end of Malibu, Point Dume, is great as a spotting place for the migratory gray whales. It’s also famous for the flawless aesthetics stretch by the beach and beyond. In Malibu you can pay a visit to Getty Villa – the real home of Getty Museum – concentrates on the antique Roman and Greek arts, and also has a collection of Historic Surfboards. Getty Villa has thirty historic surfboards for exhibition.

Santa Monica

Having closely 4 miles of vibrant urban sight and beaches, Santa Monica merges all the sophistications as an international seaside city along with the casual feel of the California beach town. It vibes as a weekend getaway place though it’s simply fifteen miles on the western side Los Angeles downtown.

Santa Monica, often distinguished for its shopping and dining, remains as a home to numerous celeb chef–helmed eateries, and the town’s retail hotspots vary in between the open air Santa-Monica-Place to the downtown’s 3rd Street Promenade, home of the major brands, a place made all things more lively and enjoyable by the street performers. Montana Avenue, a famous area to spot the local celebs, home to the trendy boutiques – are appropriate for seeking the unspoiled so-L.A. items to take as souvenir.

Venice Beach

Neighboring Santa Monica’s southern part, Venice Beach – or else just Venice—is celebrated for quirky activities. Ramble down from its famous beachfront walkway, and anyone will be lacing through jugglers, musicians, mimes and other forms of street performers – compose this unforgettable and dynamic bohemian type subculture.

Go mobile together with a hired beach bike to track Venice Beach’s 22-mile stretch of the famous Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail or halt by the Gym of Muscle Beach, an outdoor weight room, formerly the home territory of bodybuilder turned actor and forthcoming politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. You may also prefer to explore the southern side of Venice, where boho-chic Boulevard of Abbot Kinney hosts one mile-long section of expensive restaurants, edgy boutiques vending furnishings plus fashions and posh galleries. You can roam this way for retail fix particularly on the First Fridays, because on those days street performers and food trucks pack in the boulevard.

Huntington Beach

This wouldn’t be an overstatement saying that the boundless summer was a native in the Huntington Beach. Step into this beach town’s International Surfing Museum and submerge yourself in the realm of winds, waves, swells and tides – now you may understand in what way this sport has distinguished this city of Orange County – and got it the pet name as Surf City.

Even though if you don’t get the toes on nose ever, still you can see natives riding the iconic 1,850 feet long pier alongside the waves, cruise through wealth of Huntington Beach’s surf shops, and pay homage to the surfing legends remembered at the Surfers’ Hall of Fame or the Surfing Walk of Fame. Taste the beach flavor by hiking and watching bird at the reinstated inlet at Ecological Reserve of Bolsa Chica (one among the most crucial coastal wetland habitations of Southern California) or cycling through the oceanfront trail.

San Clemente

It’s famous for San Clemente and San Onofre state beaches, along with their sandstone bluffs and surf breaks. Roaming along the coastline, the Beach Trail bids you with green parks and amazing sea views.

Long San Clemente Pier bounces right out into the Pacific Ocean, near T-Street Beach. With an approved license, you’re capable go fishing from this pier, or merely enjoy the stunning views from the pier’s restaurant. After walking or biking along the town’s more than 2 mile Beach Track, which passes through the pier since it connects Calafia Beach and North Beach.

This town – San Clemente remains as one of the USA’s prominent surfing destinations. The mythical numbers of breaks of the beach of San Onofre are celebrated worldwide. If you think that you need some time to face those classic waves, still you can train yourself in more gentle waters with instructions at the Surf School of San Clemente, or else stop by the Heritage and Culture Center to watch its vast vintage board collection.

Catalina Island

Catalina or Santa Catalina remained as one among the Golden State’s Channel Islands, located south-west part of Los Angeles. It’s best known for its dive sites, highest peak Mt. Orizaba and spectacular wildlife.

Beaches with white sand, swaying palms and the sunsets of Catalina will soften your heart. Catalina, as everybody calls it, is ready with all the charms you want for an island – alluring seafood restaurants, tempting lodgings, water sports for families and so on. Here, for a one hour ride, board on the passenger ferry – Catalina Express from Dana Point, Long Beach and San Pedro or even from Beach of Newport, you can choose the Catalina Flyer. Go around with the rented bikes or golf carts, or just walk around.

Determining where to stay could be fun since you can select from vacation rentals, luxurious hotels, otherwise just snore beneath the palms among the Catalina’s several campgrounds.


You don’t need to become etymologist to understand how Oceanside acquired its name. This beach town is popped against the sea shore, forty miles northern side of the downtown of San Diego. Along with its sandy beaches along with nonstop waves, this beach town has been a desired surfing spot for long time. Stand-up paddle boarders and swimmers also prefer this spot. Go for hitting the waves at Harbor Beach or from Pier View North renting the gears from Asylum Board Shop.

Don’t miss the experience of the captivating historic artifacts from the California Surf Museum and exceptional collections from the Museum of Art. One can also catch a pay a visit to The Star Theatre and The Brooks Theatre. For you, the Sunset Market is held on the Main Street only in Thursday night. It invites you to take home a piece of art from there.

La Jolla

Though it technically remains as a chunk in San Diego, La Jolla community makes impressions more of a destination by itself. It’s a cool seaside region, branded for its rugged shoreline. Trail-wind passes sandstone canyons and pine trees into the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Here, the world famous Torrey Pines Golf Course sits above the sea cliffs. Just stay a small number of days into this territory and you’ll never forget the experience of Southern California.

Situated about twenty minutes northern side of the downtown, the widespread, and whitish sandy beaches at La Jolla shorelines remain as one of the go-to sites for paddlers, snorkelers, and kayakers. The necessary gears are available for rent from the homegrown operators. Visit Birch Aquarium on land or explore the beach of Children’s Pool, just stood alongside the sea wall and pass quality time with the bulky school of seals, enjoy their barking and their cute cubs. Roaming along the Prospect Street and Girard Avenue you can shop their elite boutiques.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay is often recognized for the Morro Rock, the ancient volcanic knoll at the very end of the Morro Rock Beach. This rock stands within the Morro Bay State Park, home to trails, lagoons and bird-rich saltwater swamp. In this beach town coastline decor collides with the surrounding progressing hills. The most noticeable Morro Rock functions as the background for this fishing town and provides the best setting for photo shoot. Morro Bay is a fantastic place to be with your friends and family and is the last California small town in your best beach towns in California.

Experience the vibe of the three mile long Morro Strand State Beach together with fishing, jogging and windsurfing throughout your stay in the Morro Bay. Try a dinner with the delicious and fresh seafood cuisine at Morro Bay’s beachfront restaurants. To become familiar with the ecology and Native American culture pay a visit at Museum of Natural History, located in Morro Bay State Park.

Final Note: Let us know if you agree with our list of best beach towns in California.

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