Dreaming of sunshine? Southern California has nearly perfect weather year-round and some of the prettiest beaches in the United States. We love SoCal beaches for their gorgeous coastlines, chill vibes and family-friendly activities. (Full disclosure, we live here so we’re a little biased.) From Malibu to San Diego, there's dozens of great beach towns to choose from. Not sure which SoCal beach you should visit on your next vacation? We’re sharing the best SoCal beaches and outfit ideas for each one. Scroll below for local spots, hidden gems and must-see attractions!
When we think of the quintessential Southern California beach, we think of Malibu. There’s actually a number of great beaches within the City of Malibu to choose from. For picture-perfect sunsets and sunbathing we recommend El Matador Beach. It’s Los Angeles’ preferred location for photo shoots and for good reason! El Matador is easily one of, if not the most, picturesque Southern California beach destination. Grab a picnic basket and enjoy the sunshine while taking in the gorgeous cliff views and rock formations. El Matador is not really for swimming or surfing, so if you’re into that head over to Zuma Beach - one of the most popular beaches in Malibu for surf and swim. After a long day at the beach, make your way to the Malibu Pier and grab a bite at the super Instagrammable Malibu Farm Cafe. Located on the Malibu Pier, the cafe offers traditional lunch fare with stunning ocean views.
2. Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Pier is probably the most famous pier in Southern California. In fact, the historic boardwalk is one of the most Instagrammed spots in town. While you're there, go for a ride on the ferris wheel or check out the Aquarium. Just a couple blocks away, the 3rd Street Promenade offers world-class shopping and dining at all price points. As the day ends, you’ll want to head back to the pier. It's reportedly the best place to catch the sunset over the Pacific. And when the sun goes down, the ferris wheel lights up!
3. Venice Beach
Known for its eccentricity, Venice Beach attracts millions of visitors each year. The Venice Beach Boardwalk, also known as Ocean Front Walk, is the second most visited destination in Southern California. The 2-mile concrete boardwalk is lined with independent shops, food stands, street performers, and artists. Check out bodybuilders at the world famous Muscle Beach or catch a game of pick-up basketball from the stands. There’s also a skate park and walls covered in street art. When you’re ready to get away from the hustle and bustle, head over the Venice Canals - a series of waterways inspired by Venice, Italy.
What to Wear: This is the place to wear your most fun swimsuit. Thrown on your favorite pair of cutoff high-waisted jeans over a textured bathing suit, like the Emerald Velvet Solid Bikini. This bikini set comes with a velvet ribbed bikini top that looks like it’s totally meant to be a crop top.
4. Manhattan Beach
Located between LAX and Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach is a favorite of the South Bay and perfect stop if you’re staying near or passing by on your way to the airport. This quaint beach town hosts the AVP Manhattan Open every year and is favored by beach volleyball amateurs for its many public beach volleyball courts. Not into sports? Grab a beach cruiser and ride down The Strand, a paved beach trail that connects some of the best SoCal beaches from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. The Manhattan stretch is pretty popular with locals and tourists. It's lined with cafes and beautiful homes. Don't forget to stop under the pier for the prefect photo op! (Pictured above.)
5. Catalina Island
Just 22 miles off California’s Southern coast is a world a of adventure. Catalina Island is the ultimate destination for water sports and outdoor activities. From snorkeling and scuba to kayaking and hiking, Catalina Island has it all. Take a tour of the island on an ATV or converted Hummer and you might catch a glimpse of its resident bison herd. Catalina’s reef is also home to California’s official state fish, the bright orange Garibaldi. Avalon, the islands commercial and residential hub, is lined with quaint shops and restaurants. Get there by boat or by helicopter. Boats depart from Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point
What to Wear: Radiate sunshine and island vibes in bright and bold color block bathing suit, like the White and Yellow Cut Out One-Piece Swimsuit. It can easily double as a body suit so you can throw on some bottoms and go adventure!
6. Huntington Beach
Named the 2018 Best Beach in California by USA Today, Huntington Beach is a favorite among athletes and families. Surf City USA offers 10 miles of pristine coastline and endless summer weather. As the name suggests, Surf City is big on surfing! It hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing every year, which attracts professional and amateur surfers from around the world. Try a surf lesson, rent paddle boards, or simply hang out and soak up the sun. Huntington Beach is also one of the few beaches in SoCal with bonfire pits, so grab your marshmallows and the whole fam and head down for a perfect beach day.
7. Newport Beach
A few miles south of Huntington Beach is a beautiful stretch of SoCal ideal for sunbathers and swimmers. Newport Beach offers the best of both worlds - great surf and great shopping. Check out the beautiful boats and yachts at the harbor, or head over to the Balboa Fun Zone for some old-fashioned amusement park fun complete with a ferris wheel and world famous frozen banana treats.
What to Wear: Go for a one-piece bathing suit that can double as a bodysuit, like the Sunny Days One-Piece Swimsuit, and pair it with your favorite cutoff shorts for a day of shopping and boardwalk fun.
9. La Jolla
Just north of San Diego is a small but spectacular cove surrounded by ocean-carved cliffs. La Jolla Cove is protected by the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve and has visibility that extends 30 feet under water, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s a great spot for sighting leopard sharks, dolphins and lots of sea lions!
What to Wear: You'll want a bikini that works just as well for soaking up the sun or going for a dive, like water in the Caramal Macchiato Ruffle Bikini Set. This super cute scalloped bikini set has a solid bikini top with matching striped bottoms for a fun and fashionable day at the beach.
Coronado Beach is set against the backdrop of storied and iconic Hotel del Coronado, featured in Marilyn Monroe’s 1958 film “Some Like it Hot.” It’s long sandy beaches literally sparkle, thanks to the mineral mica in its sand. Drive across the 200-foot-tall Coronado Bridge for one of the best views in San Diego or stroll along Orange Avenue for shops and restaurants.