Anyone who has visited California will experience warm fuzzy sentiments, mainly because of the time spent lazing on the beach and enjoying the surf. California boasts more than 800 miles of stunning coastline, so’s it not short on iconic sun-drenched beach towns. Most of California’s beach communities share a welcoming environment, friendly residents, and stunning coastal vistas, yet all offer unique activities and ambiances.
Yes, California is home to the breathtaking Yosemite Valley and the unique rock formations of Joshua Tree. But let’s be honest, people don’t go to California from all over the world only to see these inland attractions; they come for the beaches. Read on to discover the ocean-hugging villages, listed from north to south, that suit your mood, whether you’re searching for a family-friendly vacation spot or a romantic getaway where the hardest decision you’ll have to make all day is what sunscreen to wear.
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Laguna Beach is more than just a backdrop for Hollywood movies; it is renowned for its pleasant climate, an abundance of art galleries, and waterfront setting. There’s a solid reason why this California beach town is one of the most well-known in the entire state. Visit the stunning beaches and picturesque coves, look at the artwork created by locals, buy some local swimwear, and get a bite to eat. In addition to the beach, Laguna Beach has up to 20,000 acres of untouched nature that you may explore on hiking and mountain biking paths. In a little while, you’ll feel like a reality TV star in this Californian seaside town.
Welcome to the oldest resort community in California, where the people are kind, and the residences are brightly colored. The views, as unique as the surf, are surrounded by towering cliffs and are countless sights and attractions in Capitola. Capitola City Beach, located along Monterey Bay, and New Brighton State Beach are two local hotspots. Both provide a wide range of outdoor pursuits, such as birdwatching, fishing, hiking, camping, surfing, and tanning. Visit Capitola Beach Company for surf and stand-up paddle boarding classes if you’re a beginner. Visits to the Armida Winery, Cork and Fork, or Capitola Wine Bar and Merchants are necessary for wine connoisseurs.
Avalon, located on Santa Catalina Island, never fails to attract tourists because of its fascinating past and abundant natural beauty. This beach town is exceptionally well-liked because of its charm and stunning views. The principal stop in Avalon is Crescent Avenue. Also known as Front Street, this area is home to the town’s restaurants, stores, and beaches, as well as notable structures like the Serpentine Wall.
Arcata, located on Humboldt Bay, is home to historical buildings, breathtaking scenery, and fantastic restaurants. The Plaza, in the city’s center, is home to various dining, drinking, and entertainment options. You can also come by between April and November to check out the farmers’ market. The Minor Theater, one of the country’s oldest movie-only cinemas, is another popular destination for locals and visitors. The residents of Arcata are also renowned for their love of the outdoors. Visit the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary for sure. Aside from the exhibitions, the park is well known for its nearly 5 kilometers of hiking and biking paths.
As for Santa Cruz, from miniature golf to the National Register of Historic Places-listed Giant Dipper Roller Coaster may be found at California’s oldest continuously running a theme park. Shakespeare Festival in Santa Cruz, which runs through August, is also a must-see. Downtown Santa Cruz is another option, where college students may find vintage and boho-chic clothing and wholesome eateries that emphasize meals produced with organic, regional products. Despite this, the area exhibits surf culture, and professional surfers frequent Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point for their authentic California waves.
California’s Fort Bragg is a small coastal community with many stunning seaside vistas and attractions. Pudding Creek Beach, Glass Beach, Seaside Beach, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and MacKerricher State Park are just a few of the town’s stunning beaches and state parks. In the region, hiking is also very popular, especially along the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail. Everyone can utilize the paved, 8-foot-wide coastal trail. If you prefer inside activities to those outdoors, Fort Bragg is also renowned for its art galleries and museums, including the Sea Glass Museum, which was a residence but now features displays of colored sea glass.
Malibu is another A-list celebrity attraction home to the world’s movers and shakers. Malibu’s legendary right point break has fueled California’s surfing passion since the 1950s when it got renamed “Surfrider Beach.” Its designation as the first “World Surfing Reserve” in 2010 comes with no surprise. Instead, it is one of the most famous surf places in existence. You can immerse yourself at the Getty Villa Museum in exquisite artwork and relics from ancient Greece and Rome . Want to learn more about Malibu’s fascinating past instead? Afterward, proceed to the Malibu Lagoon Museum. If you are considering hiking your thing, you’ll be happy to know that the spectacular canyons, waterfalls, and grasslands of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are very close to Malibu.
Cayucos, a tourist town near Hearst Castle, is situated on the beautiful Estero Bay on the central California coast. The city is bursting with Americana and saloons, and antique stores! Visit Cass Wharf, an excellent public fishing pier, if you enjoy fishing. Because of the calm seas, swimming, kayaking, and diving are popular water sports.
The world’s safest beach, Carpinteria State Beach, is located in Carpinteria, a little city to the east of Santa Barbara that also prides itself on being a family-friendly vacation spot. Although it’s difficult to catch a wave at Carpinteria, the modest waves are perfect for splashing around. However, Rincon, one of the top surfing beaches in the state, is only three miles to the southeast if you’re looking for a terrific place to surf. The town is laid-back, with many mom-and-pop stores, cozy taverns, and casual dining establishments.
Over the past few years, this little coastal town has become a favorite destination for foodies and would-be surfers. It is home to the California Surf Museum and the SuperGirl Surf Pro, the world’s largest surf competition and music festival, which takes place here every fall. At sister resorts, The Seabird and Mission Pacific, thrill-seekers may learn to surf, while the Michelin-starred eating at the Wrench & Rodent is outstanding. Although novices are more than welcome, it’s essential to realize that this coastal community takes the sport seriously.
The famous Hotel Del Coronado, built in the Victorian style, is located on Coronado Island at the southernmost point of San Diego. Over the past 130 years, presidents, royals, and A-list celebrities have stayed there. Families now congregate close to the cabanas to enjoy s’mores at dusk over the fire pits. The Coronado Ax Company offers a new activity where you may work out any kinks in honing your throwing aim while floating around the canals while enjoying Italian wine. At the Coronado Boathouse in Glorietta Bay, you can alternatively stay with the more conventional (and possibly safer) kayaking and paddleboarding alternatives.