We’re fortunate to live about 15 minutes from the beach in Los Angeles. During winter and spring, we spend a fair amount of time enjoying favorite beach spots and finding new ones. We love Los Angeles beaches because they offer the chance to hike, picnic and explore tide pools.
These are some of the best beaches for families in Los Angeles that we’ve discovered so far.
EL MATADOR STATE BEACH (Malibu)
Visit during low tide and El Matador State Beach is great for bird watching, sand play, tide pool fun and cave exploring. Just be sure to check the tides before you go; arrive during hide tide and the beach will be inaccessible.
What kids will like: Enjoy a picnic in a sea cave during low tide. Then explore the rocks and shoreline; the marine life is teeming here.
LEO CARRILLO STATE PARK (Malibu)
Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach with tide pools, coastal caves and reefs worth exploring. This is a popular spot, so avoid visits on holidays and weekends if possible.
What kids will like: The huge expanse of sand allows for plenty of beach play fun. Visit during low tide to explore some of the best tide pools in the area.
MALIBU LAGOON STATE BEACH (Malibu)
The Malibu Lagoon State Beach area includes the premier surfing spot Surfrider Beach, the famous Malibu Pier, the Adamson House (a National Historic Site featuring Malibu historical artifacts) and the Malibu Lagoon Museum. The Lagoon itself (which is being restored at the moment) features wetlands, flower gardens and a sandy beach.
What kids will like: The docent-led birding tours are a family favorite. Visit at low tide and you can do some tide pool exploring, too.
PARADISE COVE (Malibu)
The Paradise Cove beach is pristine, the tide pool discoveries plentiful and the views beyond magnificent – especially on a clear, sunny day. The downside? Parking is a whopping $25. To avoid the hefty fee, spend at least $20 at the Café and you pay only $3 for 4 hours on the beach.
What kids will like: Eating lunch on the beach (we take food out from the Café’s to-go window and eat right on the beach). Plenty of opportunity for bird watching and wave chasing, too.
POINT DUME STATE BEACH (Malibu)
Point Dume features cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. It’s also a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the winter migration. Views from the top of the cliff are unbeatable.
What kids will like: The 1 mile round-trip trail to the lookout at Point Dume is kid-friendly and well worth the effort. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the view. You might even spot a whale or dolphins.
SANTA MONICA STATE BEACH (Santa Monica)
Santa Monica State Beach stretches some three miles along the Santa Monica Bay. This iconic beach features a ton of attractions, including a bike path, the Santa Monica Pier, six parks, the Annenberg Community Beach House and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. We’re partial to Ocean Park, a fun spot with a play structure and swings that’s right across from a great stretch of beach.
What kids will like: Santa Monica State Beach is littered with families just about any time of the year. And with reason – there’s a pint-sized aquarium, a pier complete with a carousel and carnival rides galore, a video arcade and more.