12 Best Beaches in California | Top Spots to Visit in 2024

If you’re searching for sun-soaked beaches in California, see the list below highlighting 12 of the most inviting options in Southern California. Unsurprisingly, most of California’s warmest beaches are in the southern region, where the climate tends to be notably warmer than the rest of the state. 

As you venture farther south, temperatures rise consistently, regardless of the season. At the same time, Southern California’s coastline is renowned for its year-round dry and sunny conditions; specific beaches experience even higher temperatures due to their geographical orientation. 

12 Best Beaches in California

These south-facing beaches, formed by the protrusion of land into the ocean, tend to be a few degrees hotter than their counterparts. For further exploration of Southern California’s waterfalls, hiking trails, beaches, and camping sites, please delve into more information. The best beaches in California are given below.

1. Long Beach 

12 Best Beaches in California

Long Beach stands out with its warm daytime temperatures, reaching 84 degrees in August, making it the warmest beach on the list. The family-friendly atmosphere and diverse recreational activities contribute to its popularity in Southern California. 

Watching kitesurfers at Belmont Shore, paddleboarding, and kayaking are enticing options, while Alamitos Bay Beach offers a serene spot for enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Long Beach also provides paved bike and walking paths, showers, and restrooms; however, it can become busy during summer, posing a challenge for parking availability.


2. Seal Beach

Seal Beach 12 Best Beaches in California

Seal Beach is a picturesque destination known for its stunning sunsets. It offers a serene pier walk that affords views of seals, dolphins, surfers, and the captivating coastline, including the nearby Long Beach and Huntington Beach. The climate is inviting year-round, with summer highs averaging around 83 degrees and winter temperatures at 67 degrees. 

Activities like volleyball, surfing, sunbathing, and swimming are popular, with the warm ambiance making it an excellent spot for fishing and bodyboarding. The beach has play areas, fishing piers, parking, volleyball courts, showers, and restrooms. Moreover, the beachfront area features an array of dining and shopping options.


3. Manhattan Beach

12 Best Beaches in California - Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach, known for its comfortable climate, with highs reaching 75 degrees in summer and 65 degrees in winter, offers a more relaxed atmosphere than warmer beaches like Long Beach and Seal Beach. Its soft, sandy shores are ideal for strolls and beach volleyball, while the inviting waters cater to swimming and surfing. 

After beach activities, visitors can explore the charming village area with its dining and shopping options. The beach is well-equipped, boasting amenities like restrooms, showers, bike paths, concession stands, and accessible features like ramps and beach wheelchairs.


4. Avalon Beach, Catalina Island

12 Best Beaches in California - Avalon Beach, Catalina Island

Avalon Beach, situated on Santa Catalina Island, accessible via ferry from the mainland, boasts the warmest waters in Southern California, reaching temperatures as high as 70 degrees F in August. Visitors stay at hotels near Avalon Beach, such as the Hotel Vista Del Mar.

With its captivating view of Avalon Bay, you can relish the island’s warm waters for various activities, including kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, and paddleboarding. The inviting water enhances the enjoyment of these experiences, making a trip to Catalina Island even more memorable.


5. Newport Beach

12 Best Beaches in California - Newport Beach

Newport Beach offers ocean waters with temperatures reaching their peak at approximately 72°F in early September, representing some of the Pacific coast’s warmest waters. The beach’s strategic location, nestled against the Balboa Peninsula, contributes to its sustained warmth throughout the year. 

This sheltered spot also serves as a hub for diverse recreational activities, making it a popular choice for families. Beyond enjoying the inviting waters, visitors can partake in various pursuits such as walking along the pier, basking on the beach, and relishing messy yet delicious seafood dinners at establishments like The Crab Cooker.


6. Laguna Beach

12 Best Beaches in California  Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach boasts an inviting climate with an average temperature of 79 degrees in summer and 67 degrees in winter. Its warm Mediterranean climate occasionally becomes intense in August, mainly due to the high popularity and resulting crowds. 

Just an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles, this town is renowned for its strategic location and scenic seven-mile coastline adorned with coves and beaches. Laguna Beach offers a wealth of natural attractions, including tide pools, marine sanctuaries, hiking trails, and sea caves. It’s a paradise for scuba diving, body surfing, and snorkeling. 

Moreover, the vibrant art scene adds to the town’s appeal, offering numerous opportunities for exploration. The Surf & Sand resort is a favored accommodation choice, featuring oceanfront rooms with expansive views, reminiscent of a cruise ship experience with the endless vista of water beyond the windows.


7. La Jolla Shores Beach

12 Best Beaches in California  La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla, situated just north of San Diego, possesses a unique allure with captivating beaches and scenic vistas. As a quaint community, it offers a charm distinct from larger coastal areas. La Jolla’s climate is inviting year-round, with average high temperatures of 79 degrees in summer and 66 degrees in winter. 

Among its beaches, La Jolla Shores Beach stands out for its mile-long stretch of pristine, soft sand. Unlike smaller, rocky beaches with noisy sea lions, La Jolla Shores offers a tranquil sandy haven. The ocean here is ideal for scuba diving, surfing, and swimming, while the soft sand accommodates family activities and beach volleyball. 

Notably, the beach is thoughtfully divided into areas for swimming and surfing, along with designated zones for boat launches, fire pits, and volleyball. Finding free parking can be challenging due to its popularity, but La Jolla Shores is a sought-after summer destination, complemented by various nearby restaurants.


8. Solana Beach

12 Best Beaches in California - Solana Beach

With average temperatures of 77 degrees in summer and 65 degrees in winter, Solana Beach lives up to its name, as “Solana” means sunshine in Spanish, perfectly encapsulating its character. Nestled on San Diego County’s northern coast and a mere 30-minute drive from downtown, this beach destination offers many exploration options. 

Tide Beach Park is renowned for its captivating tide pools and expansive reef, while Fletcher Cove Beach, the main beach, beckons with its opportunities for swimming, surfing, and witnessing breathtaking sunsets. The beach area is enriched by live music performances, creating a lively atmosphere for dining and shopping. 

Those fondly fond of festivals will find Many delightful as the community celebrates the annual Fiesta del Sol. Furthermore, the locale offers scenic trails for those eager to explore the outdoors.


9. Oceanside

12 Best Beaches in California - Oceanside

Oceanside stands out with its warm climate, featuring average temperatures of 77 degrees in summer and 65 degrees in winter, making it one of Southern California’s warmer beaches. Encompassing three miles, it offers a range of coastal attractions, notably Harbor Beach, the largest, cherished by surfers. 

Oceanside Boulevard Beach designates a section near the lifeguard stand exclusively for swimmers, waders, and bodyboarders in the summer. While the beachy areas on both sides of the pier draw substantial crowds, the less populated northern section is a personal preference. 

Though rocky and unsuitable for surfers, Tyson Street Beach provides a pleasant picnic spot.

Oceanside is renowned for hosting endurance events and international surfing competitions, complemented by amenities like parking, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and fire pits. For an insight into the vibrant activities in Oceanside, explore the guide on fun things to do in the area.


10. Imperial Beach

12 Best Beaches in California - Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach, situated in San Diego’s South Bay region just five miles from Mexico’s border, experiences average high temperatures of 75 degrees in summer and 66 degrees in winter. This destination offers a year-round array of activities, including horseback riding, beach volleyball, fishing, surfing, and swimming. 

Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the presence of the Tijuana River National Estuary, while the Outdoor Surf Museum adds to the area’s appeal. 

With the opportunity to ride horses along the stunning beach and catch glimpses of the remarkable Los Coronados Islands, Imperial Beach guarantees a memorable experience. Facilities such as showers and restrooms are available across the beaches, and the vicinity is replete with various dining options.


11. Avila Beach

12 Best Beaches in California - Avila Beach

Avila Beach, nestled toward the Central Coast, claims the title of the warmest beach in winter, boasting high average temperatures of 82 degrees in summer and 61 degrees in winter. While slightly more technical in its location, this destination offers a delightful experience. Children can revel in the excitement of hunting for shells and other treasures along the sandy shores. 

At the same time, the inviting climate creates an ideal setting for activities like surfboarding and swimming. Avila Beach’s allure extends to Avila Hot Springs, a historic discovery from 1907. The site hosts various activities, including tent and cabin camping, an arcade, heated pools, waterslides, and a soothing hot thermal soaking pool. 

The beach features picnic areas, a children’s playground, showers, and restrooms. Its proximity to Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo adds to the appeal, granting access to many regional restaurants and activities.


12. Santa Barbara

12 Best Beaches in California - Avila Beach

Santa Barbara enjoys an inviting climate with average temperatures of 78 degrees in summer and 66 degrees in winter. This charming destination boasts some of California’s finest and sunniest beaches. Stretching across 4 miles, these beaches feature calm waters suitable for surfing, catering to various preferences. Each beach in Santa Barbara holds its distinct appeal. 

Leadbetter Beach is a premier surfing destination, while East Beach offers a perfect setting for family activities like volleyball. With its serene ambiance, Butterfly Beach is ideal for relaxation and catching breathtaking sunsets. Most beaches have convenient facilities, including showers and restrooms, ensuring visitors a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

FAQs – Best Beaches In California

Most of California’s warmest beaches are situated in the southern region due to the geographical orientation of the coastline. South-facing beaches, shaped by the protrusion of land into the ocean, tend to experience higher temperatures. 

These beaches offer many water activities, including swimming, surfing, scuba diving, bodyboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Some beaches are renowned for specific activities, such as surfing at Leadbetter Beach or kayaking and windsurfing at Avalon Beach. 

The featured beaches offer various amenities to enhance visitors’ experiences. Showers, restrooms, and parking facilities are commonly available. Many beaches also provide picnic areas, designated spots for volleyball, and even fire pits for a cozy beachside evening. 

Final Verdict

Indeed, California’s southern region is a treasure trove of the warmest and most inviting beaches. Beyond their sunny and dry allure, these beaches beckon with diverse activities, abundant amenities, and convenient facilities. Their family-friendly nature and panoramic vistas create well-rounded destinations that cater to various preferences.

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