There are plenty of wonderful beaches in Southern California. If you remember the old Beach Boys song, Surfin USA, you can probably name several. But the Santa Monica beach is the best. Designated one of “10 Great Public Spaces in the U.S.” by the American Planning Association, Santa Monica beach has something for everyone – fun activities, great views, and plenty of places to grab something to eat or drink.
If you’re coming to Southern California, it’s easy to reach from almost everywhere, even the airport. That is less than ten miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), so you can even make it your first stop. Just take Selpuveda to Lincoln. From the San Fernando Valley, you don’t even have to get on a highway. Take one of the canyon roads to the Pacific Coast Highway. There are some good Santa Monica hotels you can use as a basis.
The wide, golden-sand beach stretches for three and a half miles along the coast, and the weather is nearly always perfect. In fact, it’s sunny here 340 days a year. When you visit, watch for TV and movie crews, which shoot here regularly.
Each morning, the beach is raked and cleaned, and lifeguards are on duty all day long. You can bring your own beach towel or your own beach chair and just enjoy the scene. Or lease from Perry’s. Their beach butlers will provide you with a table, chair, and umbrella.
Put on lots of sunscreen or wear a hat. And sunglasses will help protect your eyes and add to your appreciation of all the perfectly fit beachgoers. Don’t be surprised if one of them turns out to be a celebrity.
The ocean is nearly always cool here, even on hot days. But when it’s 100 degrees in the valleys, it likely will still be pleasant here. Surfing is permitted in designated areas between certain lifeguard stands. If you’ve never surfed, you can usually arrange for a lesson, or rent a surfboard or boogie board from Perry’s.
The recently reopened Annenberg Community Beach House used to be the estate of William Randolph Hearst. The five-acre, ocean-front property has a wonderful swimming pool that’s open to the public by reservation in summer, a café, and beach rentals.
If you don’t want to sit or swim, you can rent a bike and take the coastal trail. One of the world’s longest beachfront trails, it runs 22 miles from Malibu to Torrance. Skates, skateboards, roller blades, and other non-motorized transportation are also permitted.