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July 16, 2024

Discover LA, Your Way: Los Angeles’ Beach Cities

Los Angeles' Beach Cities

From Venice and Malibu to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, the world-famous beach cities of Los Angeles offer sun, sand and surf, along with wellness and outdoor recreation, street art and shopping, nightlife and some of the best cuisine found in Los Angeles. A visit to LA’s beaches is low-cost and reason enough to select the nation’s second largest City for an urban beach getaway.

“LA’s beautiful beach cities represent the epitome of California living, with endless possibilities for a perfect day of fun in the sun,” said Adam Burke, President & CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. “Whether you’re strolling the charming canals of Venice, biking coastal trails, or enjoying breathtaking ocean views from a pier, you’ll never forget the stunning landscapes and laidback, welcoming culture of our coastal communities.”

Spend some time here and it’s easy to understand why LA’s beach cities have such an outsize influence on music, movies, fashion, and pop culture, and why they’re so famous for outdoor activities and adventures. Visitors and locals alike can surf, skateboard, hike, bike, stroll from one lively boardwalk to the next or even lift weights at the iconic Muscle Beach. Others might go shopping on the street named for Venice’s founder, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, or head to the beach for volleyball, sunshine and yoga. The ocean, mountains, streetscapes and best of all, the people, make this one of the most spectacular destinations in the world.

Read on for LA Tourism’s detailed guide and tips for exploring LA’s beach cities.


Outdoor Activities, Health & Wellness
● Go for a stroll on your choice of boardwalks, walking paths, piers or beaches in any of LA’s beach cities, from Malibu to Redondo.
● Rent a bicycle or e-bike to explore the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail.
● Try surfing, beach yoga or beach volleyball — or just hang out and watch the locals doing it.
● In Venice, check out famed Muscle Beach; the basketball courts where “White Men Can’t Jump” was filmed, and the skateboard park where Dogtown culture lives on.
● The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s many parks include coastal areas, canyons and cliffs in the beach cities north of Venice. Watch waves crash at Zuma Beach, enjoy cliff-top views at Point Dume or hike to the waterfall in Temescal Canyon.
● Enjoy spa treatments at the region’s many spas, including Venice’s Den Mother or OSEA Skincare Studio.
● Ride the Ferris wheel, carousel and other attractions on the Santa Monica Pier.

Art, Culture & Architecture
● Visit the Getty Center, showcasing European art amid modern architecture, or the Getty Villa, modeled on an ancient Roman seaside estate.
● Look for colorful street art on buildings, walls, storefronts and even private homes all over Venice.
● Stroll along the picturesque manmade canals built in homage to Venice, Italy, and visit the historic Windward Avenue Colonnades.
● Explore architectural styles from Victorian to Mediterranean to modernist, including the midcentury modern Eames House, home of influential designers Charles and Ray Eames.

● Find local clothing brands, vintage collections, high-end fashion and art galleries on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, or at Malibu Country Mart or Redondo Beach’s Riviera Village.

● Stay in a boutique hotel like Hotel Erwin, Venice V or Vitorrja in Venice, Malibu’s Surfrider or Hotel June Malibu.
● Consider a hotel at or near LAX Airport, located a short drive from the beach: The Westin Los Angeles Airport, Hilton Los Angeles Airport, Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel, or Hotel June West LA.
● Go luxury with The Ritz-Carlton, Marina Del Rey; Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, or Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village.

Food, Drink & Nightlife
● Start your day with breakfast, steps from the ocean, at the Fig Tree Venice, Santa Monica’s Back on the Beach Cafe, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach or, for a quick bite on the go, Venice’s Gjusta Bakery.
● Enjoy seafood, farm-to-table cuisine, sandwiches, burgers and innovative takes on Mexican fare at eateries like The Rose Venice, Gjelina and Atla Venice; Malibu Farm Pier Cafe or Broad Street Oyster Co. in Malibu; or Redondo Beach Crab House or Blue Salt Fish Grill.
● Indulge in treats from Venice’s Blue Star Donuts, Wanderlust Creamery or Salt & Straw ice cream.
● Have a drink at Hotel Erwin’s High Rooftop Lounge or at Roosterfish, a gay bar that’s been on Abbot Kinney since 1979.
● In Hermosa Beach, hear live music at the Lighthouse Cafe, featured in the film “La La Land,” or do dinner and a show at the Comedy & Magic Club.
● Check out Malibu’s iconic Aviator Nation Dreamland music club.


Dive deeper into LA’s uniquely beautiful beach cities.


Venice Beach was founded in 1905 by entrepreneur Abbot Kinney, whose visits to Italy inspired him to build a “Venice of America.” Discover historic canals, picturesque bridges and the leafy, pedestrian-only paths known as “walk streets.” (Just be mindful of locals’ privacy as you stroll past homes and gardens on the cozy walkways.)

“Venice Beach is an iconic must-see destination that truly captures the vibrant essence of Los Angeles. Our community’s eclectic art scene, lively boardwalk and welcoming locals create an unforgettable atmosphere. With unique local businesses on Abbot Kinney Blvd and the bustling energy of Ocean Front Walk, Venice offers a rich tapestry of culture and history. Whether you’re here to soak up the sun, explore our neighborhoods, or simply enjoy the local vibe, Venice Beach promises an authentic Southern California experience second to none.”

Head to Venice’s beach and boardwalk for cafes, souvenir shops, street performers, skate and bike rentals, and more. The boardwalk’s Beach Recreation Center is a hotspot for people watching with the iconic Venice skatepark where crowds regularly form to watch skateboarders shred the gnar and Muscle Beach gym where bodybuilders flaunt their strength and Arnold Schwarzenegger once pumped iron. Grab a bite at the Fig Tree Venice or Sidewalk Cafe, pick up a beach read from Small World Books, and shop for retro trends at Boardwalk Vintage or Gotta Have It.

Street art is big in Venice. Popular murals include “St. Mark — Patron Saint of Venice,” “Stop the Pig,” and “Luminaries of Pantheism,” along with work by artist Rip Cronk like “Venice Kinesis” and a portrait of Doors singer Jim Morrison. Graffiti artists gather every weekend to paint and repaint Venice Art Walls, and the rainbow-painted Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower is a popular selfie spot, as is the VENICE sign strung between Windward Avenue’s arched walkways, called “colonnades.” Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” featured the colonnades in its opening scene; a mural called “Touch of Venice” honors the noir film.

Shoppers will love Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where retailers include Strange Invisible Perfumes, Fellow for home goods, Circular Library for sustainable fashion, and The Stronghold, selling “heritage” clothing brands. For health and wellness, try OSEA Skincare Studio, Saje’s plant-based products, and Den Mother, a spa and “healing house” offering massage, bodywork and beauty treatments.

“Venice Beach captures the true essence of California life, seamlessly merging a diverse cultural landscape with a passion for wellness and adventure. As someone who has lived here for years and proudly serves this lively community,” Said Traci Park, LA City Councilmember. “I’m constantly inspired by the inclusivity and variety that make Venice Beach a special place for residents and visitors alike. From the historic canals and stunning street art to the exceptional cuisine, world famous muscle beach and Marvin Braude bike path along the coast, Venice Beach offers a memorable experience that epitomizes the vibrant spirit of Los Angeles’ coastal areas.”

For dining, consider Atla Venice, whose Mexican fare includes a “Farmers Market Tlayuda,” adorned with veggies and edible flowers; The Rose Venice, offering specialties like cauliflower Bolognese and braised rabbit, and newcomer All’Antico Vinaio, an Italian sandwich shop. Gjelina is a local favorite with innovative takes on seafood, salads and pizzas; affiliated businesses include Gjusta Bakery and the Vitorrja hotel.

Other popular spots include Zinqué, Forma, Great White, Ospi, Erewhon natural foods, Si! Mon, and Little Lunch Coffee + Snacks. For unique ice cream flavors, try Salt & Straw or Wanderlust Creamery; for the best donuts you’ll ever have, visit Blue Star (try the Mexican hot chocolate). And check out the food trucks that line Abbot Kinney on the first Friday of each month beginning at 5 p.m.

For drinks, try Roosterfish, a storied gay bar founded in 1979; the Hawaiian-style happy hour at Belles Beach House; or cocktails with an ocean view from the High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin, a boutique property near the beach.


The Santa Monica Pier’s famed amusement park, Pacific Park, is home to a historic 1922 carousel; thrill rides like Pacific Plunge; and the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, Pacific Wheel, offering a panoramic coastal view from 130 feet up. The brightly lit wheel can be seen at night from miles away.

Near the pier, the Third Street Promenade offers three car-free blocks of shopping and dining. Stop by the Dodgers Clubhouse for team merch honoring players from Jackie Robinson to Shohei Ohtani, and check out nearby Elephante Beach House, a chic Italian restaurant with ocean views.

Santa Monica’s farmers markets, held Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, offer more citrus varieties than you knew existed, along with scrumptious strawberries, California-grown nuts, mini-quiches and more. Hidden gems in Santa Monica include the Museum of Flying, Bergamot Station Art Center and the original Muscle Beach, a workout mecca for gymnasts.


Driving north from Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway is Pacific Palisades. Beaches here include Will Rogers State Beach, once owned by the cowboy actor who was Hollywood’s highest paid star in the 1930s. Inland is Will Rogers State Historic Park, where you can ride horses and tour Rogers’ ranch house.

Temescal Gateway Park offers a 3-mile canyon trail with an 833-foot elevation, panoramic views, scenic waterfall and historic buildings from the park’s founding in 1922 as a West Coast outpost for the Chautauqua movement. Sign up with local outfitter Bikes & Hikes for a guided hike along the Temescal Canyon Trail or other adventures.

The Getty Center in nearby Brentwood houses billionaire J. Paul Getty’s art collection in a massive modernist complex designed by starchitect Richard Meier. Visitors will enjoy panoramic views of LA, a stunning maze-like garden and masterpieces like Van Gogh’s “Irises.” The Getty Villa, in Pacific Palisades, recreates a Roman seaside estate complete with gardens, walkways, pools and Roman and Grecian art.

Also in Pacific Palisades, the midcentury modern Eames House was home to influential husband–and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames, while the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a tranquil spot with a peace memorial, temple and scenic grounds.


Continue north on Pacific Coast Highway from Pacific Palisades to enjoy beaches and parks in Malibu, including Malibu Creek State Park, Dan Blocker Beach and El Matador State Beach. Climb the cliff at Point Dume State Beach and watch the waves crash at Zuma Beach, a local favorite where Taylor Swift filmed the video for “22.”

Grab fresh seafood from Duke’s Malibu, Neptune’s Net, Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe or Broad Street Oyster Co. Enjoy the ocean view from the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, then head across the road to Aviator Nation Dreamland, an iconic live music club with an onsite store selling U.S.-made hoodies and other activewear.

Malibu Country Mart is home to upscale retailers like Ralph Lauren as well as California lifestyle brands like Marine Layer clothing and Surfing Cowboys. Donna Gunther, co-owner of Surfing Cowboys, said when customers step into the store, they immediately “experience a mix of good vibes in an easy breezy atmosphere; looking around they discover a tightly curated collection honoring Beach Culture and California Style.”

Boutique hotels include Hotel June Malibu, Malibu Country Inn, Malibu Beach Inn, Malibu Ranch and the Surfrider, located across from Surfrider Beach in Malibu Lagoon State Park. For a luxury stay, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village is 20 minutes away with a wealth of wellness offerings and activities, including the gorgeous Cove pool and in-house spa and salon.


Heading south from Venice, you’ll hit Marina del Rey and LAX, Playa del Rey, Dockweiler Beach and El Segundo, followed by Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. They’re connected via a flat, paved bike path that runs about 18 miles from Redondo to Pacific Palisades. Most of the bike route is paralleled by inland sidewalks, boardwalks and walking paths, including the pedestrian Strand in Manhattan and Hermosa Beach.


Marina del Rey offers the world’s largest man-made small-craft harbor and is a waterfront playground with parasailing, paddleboarding and more. The Marina Del Rey Ritz Carlton is a great option for a lux stay, and don’t miss the properties gorgeous Sisley Spa. Just down the road is boutique property Hotel June West and its rooftop Caravan Swim Club, which hosts events like Mezcal Mondays, Taco & Tequila Tuesdays with live guitar music, and, for hotel guests only, Saturday morning poolside yoga.

Other hotels at or near the airport include the Sonesta Los Angeles Airport LAX Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles LAX/Hawthorne, the Residence Inn Los Angeles LAX/Century Boulevard, Embassy Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport North, Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel, Hilton Los Angeles Airport, Los Angeles Airport Marriott, The Westin Los Angeles Airport, and Homewood Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport.

    Considered the birthplace of beach volleyball, Manhattan Beach is home to the famed annual AVP Manhattan Beach Open tournament and hosts endless amateur games played all along the beach. Just offshore, surfers await their moment of glory, while on the pier, you’ll find the Roundhouse Aquarium. Two blocks inland is Bruce’s Beach, a grassy, terraced park that honors its original owners, Willa and Charles Bruce, who opened a resort for Black visitors in 1912.

Manhattan Beach eateries include Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, a local favorite since the 1960s; the Michelin-starred Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post), the cozy seafood shack Fishing with Dynamite, and The Strand House, with ocean views and a farm-to-table menu.


Follow the Strand through Hermosa Beach. At the base of Hermosa Pier, a sculpture of a surfer honors Tim Kelly, a legendary surfer and lifeguard credited with inspiring LA’s lifeguarding program.

Both the pier and Hermosa’s storied Lighthouse Cafe, a live music venue, were featured in the movie “La La Land.” Another entertainment option is the Comedy & Magic Club, while local eateries include Silvio’s South American Lounge & Grill, Chef Melba’s Bistro, Paciugo Gelato Caffe, Baran’s 2239 and Good Stuff. For boards and bikes, try Pier Surf, ET Surf or Hermosa Cyclery.


The Redondo Beach Pier and Marina offers everything from bars, cafes and souvenir shops to rentals for fishing poles, boats and bikes. One strategy for exploring Redondo and nearby beaches is to park your car in the large onsite lot, rent a pedal-assisted electric bike from Beach E Biking (they’ll teach you how to use it), and head north along the bike path, back through Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.

Dining options include Redondo Beach Crab House for Korean seafood, Hudson House gastropub and Naja’s Place with live music dockside. Near the Sonesta Redondo Beach & Marina is a unique local attraction: Seaside Lagoon, a fully enclosed saltwater lagoon with small water slides. About 2 miles from the pier, Riviera Village, Redondo’s upscale shopping district, is home to some 200 boutiques, eateries and salons. Among them: Jill Sanders Gallery, featuring fine art landscape photography; Fernando’s chic-but-casual apparel in gorgeous fabrics, and Oui Beach Studio for home goods and decor.


Parking & Transportation
● To get a cab or Uber from LAX, take the free LAX-it shuttle from your terminal to the airport’s designated pick-up area. LA’s beach cities are a short ride from the airport.
● Biking makes beach-hopping easy; the bike path from Pacific Palisades to Redondo is flat and paved. Many coastal hotels offer complimentary bike rentals.
● For public transportation, the LA Metro stops in downtown Santa Monica, a three-minute walk from the pier, or take the Beach Bus.
● For parking, identify lot locations in advance and allow time for traffic. If parking on the street, read signs carefully. A red stripe on the curb means no parking; meters are in effect daily. Meters accept coins, credit/debit cards and apps like ParkMobile, which let you add time remotely.

● Many attractions, including some beaches, parks and the Getty Villa and Center, are free to visit but charge for parking. Other attractions, including the Gettys, require timed tickets.
● For hiking and outdoor activities, check for park/beach closures related to weather or other conditions.

Staying safe
● Like all urban destinations, Los Angeles faces complex challenges related to homelessness. Be cautious, especially early in the day and after dark when fewer people are around. Walking alone is not advised, ride share services are always a good alternative.

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