Pier with Ferris wheel and rides above a sandy beach in Santa Monica whic his one of the best beaches in Los Angeles for families

15 Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Families (by a local)

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Looking for the best kid-friendly beaches in Los Angeles?

I have the top picks! Los Angeles is not only home to Hollywood glitz and glamor, it’s also home to some of the most gorgeous coastline in the world.

With each beach comes a unique set of charms and picturesque views. Think of L.A. as a sun-soaked paradise with the relaxed vibes of summer all year long.

Palm trees line the Southern California towns, and the beach is everyone’s favorite spot. You’ll find walking and jogging paths, bike routes, volleyball, and plenty of clean, soft sand to sink your feet into. LA beaches are perfect for swimming in the surf and building sand castles.

Los Angeles definitely has something for everyone, so you can find a beach to satisfy your family’s mood each day of the week. From kid-friendly waves and surfing lessons to amusement parks and hikes, the L.A. beaches have what your family is looking for. 

Being a California local and a mom of two kids, I have been to most California beaches. So let’s dive in and discover the best kid and family-friendly LA beaches!

Best Beaches in Los Angeles for Families

It’s true that you can get to the coast from most parts of L.A., but you’ll have to brave the traffic and haul all the gear that kids need, so here you’ll find family-friendly beach experiences that won’t stress you out too much.

Family beaches need easy access to parking options, bathrooms, food choices, and, hopefully, a way to clean off your feet before everyone gets back in the car!

Beach Safety Note about ALL Southern California Beaches – The Pacific Ocean can be unpredictable! The water is clear and warm, and the views are unparalleled. However, while all the beaches mentioned here are family and kid-friendly, parents need to be aware of  strong undercurrents  or  “rip currents.” These currents have been known to pull even the strongest swimmers into the deep. So, always keep your family swimming close to the lifeguard stations. Southern California Lifeguards are highly trained! There will always be a flag posted at the lifeguard stands. If it’s Yellow, be cautious; if it’s Red, stay in the shallow waves.

*Dogs are NOT allowed on the sand of ANY Los Angeles County Beaches. They are often allowed on paved paths and grassy areas but not on the beach.

1. Santa Monica State Beach

  • Address: 1550 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 17 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic, Biking, Skating, Walking, Tennis, Volleyball, Fishing, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing, Basketball, Chess
Pier with Ferris wheel and rides above a sandy beach in Santa Monica whic his one of the best beaches in Los Angeles for families
Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica State Beach is by far one of the most iconic beaches in the world. The beach itself stretches for 3.5 miles of beautiful coastline, but mostly Santa Monica is famous for the Santa Monica Pier and its classic Ferris wheel.

The pier and its boardwalk amusement park features were built in 1909, and it’s now a National Historic Landmark. 

The beach that stretches to the south of the Pier is called South Beach, and to the north of the Pier is North Beach. These beaches are very popular for families because of all the water activities like swimming and surfing.

They are “city beaches” in that just across the PCH are the thriving neighborhoods of Santa Monica. But grassy parks separate the busy streets from the sand and waves.

The popular bike path called “the Strand” passes through Santa Monica Beach and is great for kids to practice biking and skating. I also see a lot of older kids riding electric bikes on the path.

While these beaches can be very crowded at times, it’s worth it to bring your kids because they will be so excited to swim for hours and then enjoy the rides at the Pier. You’ll find tons of food choices by the beach and at the Pier.

2. Venice Beach

  • Address: 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 17.6 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic, Boardwalk, Skateboard park, Biking, Skating, Walking, Tennis, Volleyball, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing, Basketball, Chess
Venice beach lettered sign hanging over a crosswalk intersection
Famous Venice Beach Sign

Venice Beach is an experience, unlike any other beach you’ve been to! It’s the home of the bohemian culture, funky shops, Muscle Beach, street performers, and upscale boutiques and restaurants.

This beach has wide sandy shores, crystal clear water, and great waves for surfing. It’s a super busy and popular beach with a lot of people-watching opportunities! It’s great for families who want a lot of activity, music, and things to do.

Don’t go here if you are looking for a relaxing or quiet beach day making sand castles. Parking can be a challenge on weekends, but if you drive to the Venice Canals neighborhood and walk to the beach, you might not have to pay a fee.

Definitely worth strolling on the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard and wandering through the canals, gawking at the incredible homes on the water.

3. Mother’s Beach, Marina Del Ray

  • Address: 4101 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA
  • Distance from downtown LA: 20.6 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Paddleboard, Kayak, Volleyball, Swimming, Sunbathing
Alamitos Beach at Long Beach

The Marina Beach, AKA Mother’s Beach, will be your first choice if you have little ones and want a calm and no surf beach. Mother’s Beach at Marina Del Ray is one of the best beaches in Los Angeles for families with young kids.

This beach, more of an inlet in a marina, was man-made in the 1960s to provide a safe swimming spot for families. The beach has a .5-mile stretch of sandy beach in beautiful Marina Del Rey.

Plenty of food choices are available at local restaurants. Cheesecake Factory is right on Mother’s Beach with delicious and generous servings, a kids’ menu, and the most scrumptious cheesecake varieties! This is my kids’ favorite restaurant chain!

Marina Del Ray is also a great place to stay in LA if you are looking for a family vacation away from the crowds of Santa Monica and Venice Beach but still close by to these more popular beaches.

There are several great hotels here with easy access to Mother’s Beach. Marina del Rey Marriott is right across the street from the beach, while The Ritz Carlton is a luxury resort nearby.

4. Manhattan Beach

  • Address: 400 The Strand, Manhattan Beach, CA  
  • Distance from downtown LA: 21.6 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic, Walking, Biking, Volleyball, Playground, Windsurfing, Fishing, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing
Volleyball courts on teh beach with sunset hues in the sky

Manhattan Beach is on the stunning coastline on the southern end of Los Angeles, in the South Bay Region with Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach.

Manhattan Beach is a laid-back, popular spot for swimmers and surfers. It is considered one of the best Los Angeles beaches.

There is a small pier with a charming aquarium. Fishing is allowed off the pier all year long. This is a great swimming spot for families with ample parking and a lovely community of Manhattan Beach to dine and shop.

There are plenty of restaurants and ice cream shops on Manhattan Ave and Manhattan Beach Blvd. Try the Manhattan Beach Creamery for some delicious ice cream and treats.

Look for volleyball tournaments hosted on the beach. Families love this beach, and people say that there is no need to go to Hawaii for sand dunes when you can visit Manhattan Beach!

Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach is a luxury boutique hotel just a few blocks from the beach and close to all the dining if you would like to stay overnight.

5. Playa Del Rey Beach

  • Address: Pacific Ave. & Culver Blvd., Playa Del Rey, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 21.5 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Free parking is available on Pacific Ave.
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic, Walking, Biking, Volleyball, Kite Flying, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing, Basketball, Baseball, Playground
Girl walking on a path at the beach
Me at a beach in LA

Playa Del Rey Beach is known for being a less crowded beach than some of the other L.A. beaches. The town is charming and home to many beautiful houses with spectacular views.

The beach lies under the flight path of the LAX airport, however, so it can be noisy at times. The soft white sand and views of the Marina Del Rey Harbor make up for the noise, though!

It’s popular with families for its great swimming spots and grassy parks. There are plenty of great food spots nearby in this quaint inlet town. Caffe Pinguini Italian Restaurant is just a block from the beach and has great pizza and pasta dishes, which will hit the spot after a fun day at the beach.

6. Dockweiler State Beach

  • Address: 12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA
  • Distance from downtown LA: 19.8 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Picnic, Biking, Diving, Fishing, Hang Gliding, Surfing, Swimming, Volleyball
Sandy beach with ocean waves

Dockweiler State Beach is also in Playa Del Rey. This beautiful beach is a stretch of almost 4 miles of oceanfront with soft white sand. It’s a busy beach in the summer known for its extensive bike path and fishing jetties at the north end of the beach.

People especially flock to the beach in the evenings to grab a fire pit spot. You’ll find a protected area of the Western Snowy Plover, which is a federally protected bird.

This beach is also below the flight path of LAX, but the noise is easily ignored against the backdrop of the active beach. There’s also a large RV park with hookups for 118 vehicles. There’s a concession stand at the beach and plenty of food choices nearby.

7. Zuma Beach

  • Address: 300000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 37 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, and some free roadside parking
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Picnic, Biking, Hiking, Windsurfing, Surfing, Swimming, Volleyball, Paddleboarding, Kayaking
Beach views seen from an ocean bluff
Zuma Beach views from Point Dome

Zuma Beach is located on the iconic Malibu coast against the backdrop of the glorious Malibu hills peppered with the sprawling homes of the rich and famous. It is a must-visit on a trip to Malibu.

In spite of its fame, Zuma has the laid-back, endless summer vibe that you want from a California beach. The beachfront is almost a 2-mile stretch of white sand and is very popular among the surfer crowd.

While the water can be a bit chillier than some of the beaches south of L.A., Zuma is still an excellent choice for a family beach day. There is plenty of parking and many spots where the waves are milder.

You’ll find food stands on the beach, so you don’t have to worry about snacks for the kids. If you’re lucky enough to be there during whale winter migration season, you might catch some Grey Whales swimming by.

8. Redondo Beach

  • Address: 400-1700 Esplanade, Redondo Beach, CA  
  • Distance from downtown LA: 22 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, and some free street parking
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Picnic, Biking, Hiking, Diving, Windsurfing, Surfing, Swimming, Volleyball
Waves in ocean with beach in the distance

Redondo Beach is about a 1.5-mile stretch of family-friendly beach that runs from the Redondo Pier south to Torrance Beach.

Redondo boasts that it is the “birthplace of surfing” and remains a surfers’ paradise. This beach is great for kids because it has a saltwater lagoon area with very calm water that is perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking.

The beach also has a lively pier that is popular for fishing, has restaurants, and lots to entertain the whole family.

9. Hermosa Beach

  • Address: Hermosa Avenue & 33rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 22.2 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, and some metered street parking 
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Picnic, Biking, Skating, Hiking, Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Volleyball, Playground 
wide bike path lined with palm trees between beach and homes
The Strand bike path

Hermosa Beach is another great spot for an active family looking for a lot to do at the beach. This beach runs for about 2 miles along Santa Monica Bay to the north of Redondo Beach.

While Hermosa is great for swimming and popular for surfing, it’s really well known for its beach volleyball courts and nighttime beach parties. The Hermosa Pier is nice for a stroll, and The Strand bike path continues along the beach for biking and skating.

The shopping and restaurant scene on the nearby Hermosa Ave. offers a lot of choices for after-beach activities.

10. Will Rogers State Beach

  • Address: 17700 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 19 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, and some metered street parking
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Walking, Picnic, Biking, Fishing, Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Volleyball, Windsurfing

The Will Rogers State Beach is not only famous for being named after one of   Hollywood’s biggest legends but also because the TV show Baywatch was filmed here!

This is one of the top family beaches because it’s not as crowded as some others, and the sand is perfect for sunbathing. The 3 miles of beach are great for swimming, and there are plenty of volleyball courts and picnic tables to enjoy.

You’ll find windsurfers along with the surfing crowd. There are plenty of restaurant choices in Pacific Palisades.

Just a 6-minute drive from the beach and close to the Will Rogers State Park is the former opulent 100-room home of actress Marion Davies. The Annenberg Community Beach House is a public recreation facility with no fees required at 415 Pacific Coast Hwy, Santa Monica.

The Gold Coast beachfront mansion was built for Davies by William Randolf Hearst in the 1920s. The home is open for tours now, and the property is one of the region’s most popular spots with a swimming pool, splash pad, playground, and volleyball, beach canopies, and many swimming pool classes.

11. Leo Carrillo State Beach

  • Address: 35000 W Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA  
  • Distance from downtown LA: 41 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic Areas, Environment Learning/Visitor Center, Exhibits and Programs, Fishing, Scuba Diving/Snorkeling, Swimming, Vista Point, Nature & Wildlife Viewing, Windsurfing/Surfing, Family Programs
flowers and greenery seen on an ocean bluff with beach and ocean in the distance

Lea Carillo is another one of Malibu’s treasures. With a 1.5-mile stretch of beautiful sandy beach, it’s also famous for its great tidepools, coastal caves, and reefs to enjoy.

Leo Carillo Beach is named for the actor who was dedicated to many conservation projects. It’s also a very popular spot for use in many movies. This is a great family beach for its swimming and exploring. There are several great restaurants along the PCH for an after-beach meal.

The Leo Carrillo State Park offers many hiking and backpacking trails and campgrounds. Leo Carrillo State Park Campground is a great camping place in the summer with beach access and hiking trails.

12. Paradise Cove Beach

  • Address: 28128 E Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 33 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, but 4 hours are discounted or free if you eat at the restaurant
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Picnic, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing
Malibu Pier above the ocean
Malibu Pier

Paradise Cove Beach is a lovely and secluded spot in Malibu, a wide sandy beach in front of the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. The beach is small and secluded, making it ideal for families looking for a relaxing beach day.

The cafe supplies all the amenities for a fee –  like surfboards, chairs, and umbrellas. There are lifeguards, clean facilities, and a private pier, which makes the fee worth it. 

Paradise Cove Beach is just a 10-minute drive from the famous Malibu Pier and its renowned Malibu Farm Restaurant and great boutique shops. Look for dolphins and movie stars at this iconic spot! 

Best Beaches Near Los Angeles for Families

With so many excellent, family-friendly beaches in LA, you will be spoilt for choices. But if you are looking for more options, there are several worth visiting beaches near LA that are also great weekend getaway destinations from LA.

13. Long Beach City Beach

  • Address: 380 E Shoreline Dr, Long Beach, CA 90802
  • Distance from downtown LA: 25 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Aquarium, Biking, Skating, Walking, Volleyball, Fishing, Surfing, Swimming, Sunbathing, Picnic
Board walk with colorful shops at Long Beach, California
Long Beach Boardwalk

Long Beach in Southern California is renowned for its impressive waterfront and Shoreline Village. The city showcases a lineup of beaches coupled with many activities that families adore. A day trip to Long Beach is one of the best things to do in Southern California for families.

Aquarium of the Pacific is undoubtedly the crown jewel of family attractions. This aquarium houses over 11,000 marine creatures. The touch pools are a favorite, letting kids get hands-on with various sea dwellers.

Shoreline Village is a hive of activity. Picture a vibrant boardwalk replete with colorful shops, restaurants, and a waterfront promenade. The arcade here was a big hit with my kids!

Whether you’re in the mood for biking, skateboarding, or taking a leisurely ride on a Surrey family bike – which, by the way, you can rent right from the Village – this place has it all.

Don’t miss Alamitos Beach, adjacent to the Shoreline Village. With its wide expanse, fun bike path, and warm, gentle waters typical of Southern California, it’s a family’s dream. Don’t forget to check out the historic Queen Mary ship docked at the pier.

If you’re after a calm spot for younger kids to play and paddle, Mother’s Beach is nearby, an inlet beach on Alamitos Bay. With playgrounds on the sand, green areas, and gentle waves, it’s perfect for families with young kids.

Naples Island is Long Beach’s very own slice of European charm. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard from the rental shops along Alamitos Bay and navigate the canals.

If you’re looking to stay over, the Hyatt Regency Long Beach is a top choice. It’s close to everything in Shoreline Village.

14. Huntington Beach

  • Address: Magnolia Ave. & Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA
  • Distance from downtown LA: 37.6 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – Yes, but 4 hours are discounted or free if you eat at the restaurant.
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Swimming, Surfing, Birdwatching, Fire Rings for bonfires, Windsurfing, Basketball
Huntington Beach Pier at sunset time with sandy beach
Huntington Beach Pier at Sunset

Huntington State Beach is a beautiful spot in Orange County, south of L.A. It’s a great beach to swim, sunbathe, fish, bird watch, and relax.

There’s an 8.5-mile paved trail along the beach between Huntington and Bolsa Chico State Beaches.  It’s a little less windy at Huntington than at other beaches nearby, but it still may be foggy in the mornings, and the water may be cool sometimes.

I found the crowd at Huntington to be very lively, and the pier was a happening place with lots of street performers. We saw an amazing sunset from the pier.

Duke’s Huntington Beach is a great seafood restaurant right on the beach with a Hawaiian-inspired menu.

Huntington Beach is definitely a beach vacation destination with some great places to stay across the highway. Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa is an upscale resort with several swimming pools.

Note: While Huntington is a really popular spot for surfing, it may not be the best spot for kids or novice surfers because the rip tides are known to be very dangerous at this beach. So, pay attention to the Red Flag days and stay in shallow water near the lifeguard tower. There are also sand bars that form in the Summer, which can cause steep, rapid, and dangerous waves.

15. Laguna Main Beach 

  • Address: Broadway & Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 
  • Distance from downtown LA: 33 miles
  • Parking Lot Fee – No
  • Restrooms & Showers – Yes
  • Family-friendly Activities – Swimming, Surfing, Volleyball, Basketball, Surfing
Sunset at Laguna beach with sand and ocean waves
Sunset at Laguna Beach

The Main Beach at Laguna Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Its iconic lifeguard tower has often appeared in movies and TV shows. Strolling on the boardwalk on Main Beach is one of the best things to do in Laguna Beach.

The sand is soft, and there are plenty of spots with mild waves and other parts of the beach that are great for surfing. Main Beach is often busy, but it is wide and has plenty of room for the whole family.

There are great tidepools to explore and a beautiful paved path up above the beach through Heisler Park. The vibe in Laguna is very relaxed, and there are plenty of restaurants, ice cream shops, and souvenir shops to keep the kids happy.

If you are looking for an overnight stay, the Beachfront Casa Loma Beach Hotel is right between Main Beach and Heisler Park and has an outdoor swimming pool. There are plenty of dining options just across the Highway 1 road.

Final Takeaways: Best family-friendly beaches in and near Los Angeles

Los Angeles offers some of the most spectacular beaches that can keep the whole family happy. Whether you’re looking for a busy beach with entertaining boardwalks or a pristine and relaxing sunset, LA’s family-friendly beaches have it all.

From the iconic Santa Monica Beach to the surfing paradise of Zuma Beach, each beach has its unique charm. So, whether the kids want to swim and build sandcastles, or surf and play volleyball, there’s a beach for everyone. L.A. beaches offer the quintessential sunny California beach days that you dreamed of.

Did you know that Catalina Island is just a one-hour ferry from LA and has some really lovely beaches and amazing things to do for families? Check out my Catalina Island day trip guide to find out more!

As Experienced by Carrie, a California local, from Carrie Green-Zinn

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