You cannot visit Southern California without stopping at one of its many wonderful beaches and dipping your toes in the Pacific Ocean. However, if you have a limited time on your visit and can only visit one beach, you may have a difficult time choosing. Which Southern California beach should top your list? Well, it depends on what you're looking for:
Sunbathing and Relaxing:
Zuma/Point Dume: Of course, you can sit in the sand and relax at all the beaches in Southern California, but Point Dume and Zuma beaches, approximately 19 miles west of Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway, are the beaches to go to escape the crowded Los Angeles beaches. When driving west on PCH you'll come to Point Dume first, then Zuma. Point Dume is a little quieter than Zuma, so if you want to lie in the sand and sleep, or read a good book, Point Dume is it. Of course, just because Point Dume and Zuma beaches are great for relaxing, that's not all there is to do. Some consider Zuma beach one of the finest surfing beaches as well.
Huntington Beach: With over 50 surfing competitions held each year in Huntington Beach, plus a Surfing Walk of Fame, Surfers' Hall of Fame and International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, or "Surf City" as some call it, is the place you'll want to visit to surf and watch surfers in action. Forget your surfboard or boogie board? No problem, you can also rent one in Huntington Beach. You'll want to visit the pier at Huntington City Beach where you can watch the surfers as well as take in the views, which include Catalina Island, 22 miles away (check out the pay scopes for closer views).
Another reason to go to Huntington Beach is that all three of their beaches (Huntington City Beach, Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach) have concrete fire rings which allow you to have nightly bonfires and cookouts.
Swami's Beach: Located in Encinitas below Seacliff Roadside Park, Swami's Beach is also a great place to watch the surfers, as it is considered one of the best surfing spots along the San Diego County coastline.
Fun Out of the Water:
Santa Monica State Beach: If you get tired of sunbathing or playing in the ocean, Santa Monica State Beach is great because you have Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier with rides, games and restaurants. You have to really try hard to be bored at Santa Monica State Beach. Rides include a carousel, roller coaster, bumper cars, motion simulator and a nine-story Ferris wheel with spectacular views. You can also roller blade and ride bikes on the bike bath along the beach.
Venice City Beach: Want a quirky beach experience? Then you'll have to visit Venice Beach, at the end of Washington Street in Venice. There you'll find skaters, performers and those you're not quite sure if they're performing or not. On any given weekend you can be treated to musicians, acrobats, mimes, magicians and other assorted entertainers. You'll also find restaurants and all sorts of shops along Ocean Front Walk, as well as Muscle Beach, where you can find bodybuilders pumping iron. If you like crowds, you'll love Venice Beach on the weekend.
These are just a sampling of the great beach experiences you can have in Southern California. Just remember to bring and apply your sunscreen, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and enjoy your visit.