California and beaches go together like swimsuits and margaritas. To get you going on your summer seaside romp, here are prime beaches perfect for all sorts of activities from diving into that sultry summer read to getting an adrenaline rush enjoying the latest water sports.
Why Go: Surf City, Baby
Looking to surf or just catch the latest wave of California surf culture? Look no further than Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City. Surfing’s been a mainstay here for a century, and a hundred years of stoke has produced everything from rad beach fashion to multiple ways to learn or practice your surfing chops. The beach here also hosts more than 50 competitions a year, so make sure to people-watch!
Where to stay: Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel
Baker Beach, San Francisco
Why Go: Picnics and Photo Ops
One of the best ways to make the most of SF’s summer days is to head to Baker Beach (and adjacent China Beach) for a picnic on a mile-long stretch of sand where you’re certain to find the perfect spot. Besides the picnic tables and grills here, this beach gets bonus points for epic views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge destined to make you a social media star.
Tennessee Beach, Marin County
Why Go: Summer Reading Nirvana
Just over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find the ideal beach for some stellar sunning and the chance to dive into that summer read your friends have been gabbing about. Tennessee Beach is a moderate 3.5 mile round-trip hike through the Marin Headlands, so expect spectacular views along the trail. You’ll descend through a lush coastal valley to a wide, welcoming beach where you can curl up on your beach blanket and finally get into that page-turner.
Why Go: Beach Cruisers and Bistros
Break out the sandals and your coolest shades for a beach cruiser circuit that will have you rolling like a local. An easy ride down State Street (the location of our Canary Hotel) will put you right on the Cabrillo Bikeway, where your options include nearby cafes and beach-y classics like steps-from-the-sand Chase Palm Park and hyper-local Leadbetter Beach.
Where to stay: Kimpton Canary Hotel
Westward Beach, LA County
Why Go: Sunsets and Hollywood History
True to its name, Westward Beach is home to epic sunsets. Add the chance to spot dolphins and whales cruising right offshore and you have all the makings of a summer blockbuster. Oh, and did we mention cocktails steps away at The Sunset, a restaurant once a favorite of Marilyn Monroe? Find all this SoCal splendor adjacent to Point Dume where, for extra credit, you can enjoy a hike that offers jaw-dropping views of Santa Monica Bay and Catalina Island.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Why Go: People-Watching Wonder
Every beach has its claim to fame. When it comes to killer people-watching, world-famous Venice Beach is without question the tops in California. This is where locals and visitors from around the globe come to sit at a café or find a spot in the sand and view the skaters, surfers, celebrities, bodybuilders and street performers who create an endless people parade certain to delight and entertain. You’ll want to remember the hashtag #OnlyInCalifornia.
Mission Bay, San Diego
Why Go: Play in the Waves
Sparkling waves and calm bays just beg for playing in the surf–making San Diego’s Mission Bay the ultimate summer playground. This prime location just north of downtown serves up a tempting menu of opportunities. If you’ve wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), SUP yoga, sailing, kayaking, wake-boarding or any number of activities, free your inner aquatic athlete here and be prepared for a watery workout that’s the ultimate joyride.