L.A.'s Best Beaches to Suit Your Mood

El Matador BeachEXPAND
El Matador Beach

What's the best beach in L.A.? Depends what you're looking for. Los Angeles County is blessed with 75 miles of coast, and beyond that, easy access to even more miles of oceanfront sand in Orange County. That means we have no shortage of great spots for swimming, surfing, shell collecting, cute-surfer watching and even — yes! — booze drinking, if you're into that sort of thing. 

Here are our picks for 10 great beaches that fit 10 very different moods.

Dockweiler Beach
Dockweiler Beach
Mary Bove

Best Beach for a Workout: Dockweiler Beach, Playa del Rey
Sometimes it's best to escape the madness of the busy beachside trails in Venice and Santa Monica and head to less-populated paths, like the one at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey. Close to multiple parking lots, and with access to volleyball courts and the Marvin Braude Bike Path, this beach is the quintessential place to work out away from the crowds. Take the Marvin Braude Bike Path north for a gorgeous bike or run past the docks at Marina del Rey. Near the western end of Imperial Highway, 12001 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey.

High Rooftop Lounge
High Rooftop Lounge
Mary Bove

Best Beach If You Hate the Beach: High Rooftop Lounge, Venice Beach
So you like the idea of the beach, but maybe not the sand, and maybe not the water either. Not to worry. Places like High Rooftop Lounge in Venice give visitors the best of the beach without ever having to stick their feet in the sand. Open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, this rooftop bar and lounge is as close as you can get to the real deal without getting all grimy. The relaxed atmosphere and stunning views of the sunset cater to non-beach lovers who are looking to stay dry while enjoying their day or evening. There's plenty of relatively affordable lot parking near by, although good luck getting in and out of Venice on a nice day. Entrance inside Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice. 

Topanga State Beach
Topanga State Beach
Mary Bove

Best Beach for Sunshine and Wine: Topanga State Beach
Sunbathe and then sip — or vice versa. Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, south of the oddly placed oceanfront American Apparel, Topanga State Beach may look like an ordinary shore. But what makes this beach so inviting is that it's located across the PCH from Rosenthal Winery. Park in the beach's east or west lot and take the underground passageway, which leads almost directly to the winery's doorstep. There you can taste, buy a bottle and wait for the sun to go down to make your trek back into the city. 18700 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

Bolsa Chica State Beach
Bolsa Chica State Beach
Mary Bove

Best Beach for a Bonfire: Bolsa Chica State Beach
Located south of L.A. County in Huntington Beach, the Bolsa Chica State Beach shoreline stretches three miles with ample room for sunbathing, swimming and anything in between. Doubling as a campground, Bolsa Chica is one of the few beaches in the area that still allows bonfires. Stop by any day of the year between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. to rent a fire ring and enjoy the beach from sunrise to sunset. Parking, however, will set you back $15. Between Sunset Beach and Seapoint Avenue along Pacific Coast Highway.

Abalone Cove Beach
Abalone Cove Beach
Mary Bove

Best Beach for Spotting Tide Pools: Abalone Cove Beach
Located in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is home to Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove. Along the five-mile stretch of rocky bluffs, you will find Abalone Cove, which is perfect for spotting an array of sea creatures. Upon visiting the cove, most are mesmerized by the view of Catalina Island. But if you look closer in, you'll find some of the most impressive tide pools along the coast. Filled with a menagerie of colored sea urchins, these tide pools are surrounded by rocks for visitors to climb for the perfect view. Make sure you bring $5 for parking and check the tide charts before going so you don't miss prime tide pool hours. 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes.

Huntington Dog Beach
Huntington Dog Beach
Mary Bove

Best Beach to Bring Your Dog: Huntington Dog Beach
Even though there are dog-friendly beaches scattered throughout L.A., Huntington Dog Beach is the fan favorite for dog lovers. Maybe that's because there are no size restrictions and dogs are free to run about without a leash — a rarity in this state even for places considered dog-friendly. Or maybe because Huntington Dog Beach has a non-profit organization that helps to keep it safe and clean for the animals. Make sure to bring change for the parking meters if you're planning on a quick visit. 100 Goldenwest St., between Seapoint Avenue and 21st Street, Huntington Beach.


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