Tag Archives: California

16 Beach Towns in California for a Fun Getaway

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

California’s coastline is nothing short of stunning- stretching for more than 800 miles, it features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. 

And thanks to a good number of gorgeous beach towns dotting the coast, it’s easy to find the perfect spot to relax and soak up the California sun. 

If you’re planning to visit, this guide explores some of the best beach towns in California- whether you’re looking for a fun-filled vacation or a peaceful getaway.

Aside from swimming and beach activities, many of these places are also full of exciting things to do including shopping, dining, and nightlife. 

For more places to visit in The Golden State, check out our California bucket list.

Northern California Coastal Towns

While northern California is mostly known for its wine, redwoods, and vineyards, its breezy ocean coastline is also a must-visit.

Listed below are some of the best northern California coastal towns you should experience featuring sandy beaches and gorgeous seashores with lots of activities to enjoy.

You may also like our guide to California coastal cities.

Crescent City

Eight hours from San Francisco, Crescent City is nestled along a sandy crescent coastline, hence the name, with stunning coastal views and is one of the best small beach towns in California.

A seafood lover’s haven and a vital port for vessels and commercial fishing.

Viewing the entire city from the top of Battery Point Lighthouse (235 Lighthouse Way) is one of the coolest things to do here. 

The lighthouse is an offshore island that is also a museum open to the public when the tide is low (April through September) and one of the most visited sites. 

Note that there are no restrooms on the island, only in the city parking area, so plan accordingly. 

B Street Pier is another worthy stop to stroll out to the end to witness incredible ocean views.

On a good day, you can see hundreds of sea lions swimming. 

You can’t leave before visiting the beach that the city is named for, as it sits at the midway point of Crescent City. 

A popular site for surfing makes it another one of California beach towns to visit if you are up this way. 

Lighthouse on a small island off the shore at Crescent City, California.

Trinidad, California

One of the best Northern California coastal towns is Trinidad if you love the outdoors without the crowds.  

Located in Humboldt county, Trinidad, Ca, is one of the quiet beach towns in California. 

It has redwoods and peaceful beaches and safeguards its Native American cultural and historical heritage.

If you prefer remote beaches, go swimming on Trinidad State beach and have a beach that feels like you have it all to yourself.

Hike to the nearby hilltop for a vantage point that delivers amazing ocean and harbor views. 

Spend a weekend exploring one of the best coastal towns in California solo or as a couple.  

Fort Braggs

Fort Braggs is one of the best beach towns near San Francisco and just 10 miles north, Seaside Beach is one of ten beaches near Fort Bragg and a big reason people come here. 

Once reserved as a military base and lumber yard, Fort Bragg is the largest city on the Mendocino Coast and is known for the famous Glass Beach (W Elm St and Glass Beach Dr) and the Skunk Train (100 W Laurel St).

The steam locomotive Skunk Train is a popular tourist attraction where individuals can ride by rail bikes on the track or the traditional way inside the train.

Several parks, trails, and the Botanical Gardens (18220 CA-1) are other tourist interests worth visiting. 

Make it a weekend girls’ trip and drive Highway 101 from San Francisco, which is only 3.5 hours to get there. 

Hike the trails in Russian Gulch State Park to visit the 36-foot waterfall. 

Dress according to the time of year, as the far north temps can vary.

Shelter Cove

Shelter Cove features black sand beaches, tidal pools, and hiking trails.

Getting to this quaint and remote coastal town requires a detour from Highway 1 to a meandering road that spans 25 miles. 

Well worth the treasure hunt to land in one of the best beach towns in California, which offers a variety of outdoor fun such as biking, hiking, wine tasting, and dining at beachfront restaurants. 

The Lost Coast trail takes two-four days to complete and entices serious hikers from all around. 

Non-hikers can also walk the coast trail and explore at their own pace. 

Stargazing is easy to do as there are no lights at night, which makes for a lovely relaxing evening for stargazers.

Sacramento 

Sacramento is the state capital and one of the safest and cheapest places to live (surrounding suburbs) and teeming with stuff to do. 

Once wrapped in Gold Rush history, Sacramento has transformed into a cultural Mecca draped in the arts, music, breweries, and 5-starred restaurants.

Although there are several beaches near Sacramento, Paradise Beach (5211 Carlson Dr), although small, is peaceful and pleasant and a hidden gem. 

Sand Cove Park (2005 Garden Hwy) is a public beach near Sacramento that is a treat as there is fishing, a place to barbecue, and the kids can play safely in the sand and water. 

From the history buffs to the outdoorsy types, you are welcome here as there is something for everyone in Sacramento.

View of Sacramento's skyline with building and trees from the water.

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is one of the beach towns near San Francisco, just 20 miles north of the city- and worth visiting if you are looking for a beautiful coastline and forested slopes. 

A century ago, the location wasn’t even in the running for best beach towns in California, but in 1906 refugees migrated to the area, and the foundation for the free-spirited location was laid. 

With its secluded vibe, Stinson beach is one of a few hidden California beach towns worth visiting.

The beach is the main attraction and a surfer’s playground.

Red Rock Beach is Stinson’s little secret and within walking distance is frequented by locals sunbathing in the nude.

Planning to visit San Francisco? Read our San Francisco bucket list.

Coastline at Stinson Beach, California.

Central California Coastal Towns

Whether you’re looking for a small-town feel or want to be in the heart of all the action, central California has coastal towns that will fit your needs! 

Check out some of the places featured below, offering incredible views, stunning beaches, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.

You may also like our guide to spring break in California featuring places and beaches from the central part of the state.

Pismo Beach

The Monarch butterflies, beautiful beaches, and wineries make Pismo Beach popular. 

Pismo beach stretches 17 miles and is one of the best seaside towns in California for families. 

Come here for surfing, fishing, camping, bird-watching, and Dinosaur Caves Park (2701 Price St).

Plan a family road trip from Los Angeles (3.5 hours) and Santa Barbra (1.5 hours) and include a picnic, as the park has multiple tables and benches. 

The vast grassy area and playground with slides, ropes, and bars to climb and dinosaur eggs to hide in will keep the kids happy for hours.

Carpinteria

About 12 miles south of Santa Barbara and Northwest of LA, Carpinteria is considered one of the safest beach towns in California, in fact, in 1982, the slogan “World’s Safest Beach” was embraced.

It may have a small locale but has a large celebrity presence, as it is said that Ellen, Aston Kutcher, and Kevin Costner own homes here. 

There’s a choice between Carpinteria City and Carpinteria State Beach to visit here. 

Water sports are a popular pastime.

A great getaway in a very good part of California for picnics, barbecues, and dunes. 

Amtrak service is available, making Carpinteria even more accessible.

Ventura 

Ventura may not be the cheapest coastal town in California, but it is undoubtedly one of the most reasonable.

Most people are attracted to the beautiful beaches and great weather, but living costs stop some in their tracks- Ventura is one of California’s most affordable beach towns worth exploring.

Adventure seekers will find Ventura’s proximity to the harbor appealing, along with Surfer’s point beach being a must-visit.

The place also delivers so many spots to visit, including Ventura Pier (750 E Harbor Blvd), Channels Island National Park, and Mother’s Cove (1878-1998 Spinnaker Dr), to name a few.

Ventura Beach is also included in our list of USA beaches to visit in December.

Ventura Beach coastline in California..

Redondo Beach

If you are looking for LA beach towns to visit, consider Redondo Beach, as it has a unique vibe and is known for its Pier with cute shops, oceanfront restaurants, and great views. 

This is one of the cutest beach towns in California where you can walk out to the end of the Pier and watch the boats set out to sail. 

Take in the view of the sunset from this vantage point while you are here you won’t be disappointed.

A few miles from the beach is Hopkins Wilderness Park (1102 Camino Real), a family favorite for tent camping.

Long Beach

Long Beach is underrated as it is one of the most affordable beach towns in California.

An affordable suburb in California compared to other beach towns, Its diverse economic class contributes to the rich cultural experience.

The hosts of the Pride Festival and Parade, the Grand Prix, weekend vendor fairs, and farmer markets make Long Beach a great place to live or visit. 

Long Beach is a great place to build relationships and raise a family.

You may also like our guide to California in December which features Long Beach.

Port in Long Beach with palm trees, boats and buildings, California

Southern California Beach Towns

The following list will explore some of the best beach towns in southern California featuring a beautiful coastline, opportunities to shop and dine, and other entertaining activities.

From the laid-back person looking to relax on the seashore, to the adventurer searching for waves to catch, southern California beaches have something for everyone.

You may also like our guide to California in fall featuring destinations and activities in southern California.

Santa Monica

As a tourist destination and an area with a thriving local culture, Santa Monica is one of the coastal towns in southern California you must visit.

Santa Monica beach features plenty of fun outdoor and water-based activities to enjoy including swimming, beach volleyball, watching the sunset, and surfing.

You can also head to Santa Monica Pier which will keep you entertained with games, rides, and food options- as well as see its famed solar-powered Ferris wheel.

If you’re interested in arts, this coastal town has plenty of art galleries and museums for you to check out- like the Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Ave) featuring contemporary art exhibits, workshops, and performance.

Santa Monica also features in our list of warm places to visit in the USA in December.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a well-known beach community featuring seven miles of sandy beaches.

The Laguna Beach town is best explored on foot; strolling Laguna’s paved beaches or winding trails is the best way to take in the fresh ocean air and experience the town’s natural beauty. 

Downtown Laguna is an eclectic mix of hotels, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.  

The area comes alive in the summer with art festivals like Sawdust Art & Craft Festival and Festival of Arts as well as live music performances. 

There are simply so many things to enjoy here, whether you are an art lover, an outdoor adventurer, a beachgoer, a family, or a romantic.

Laguna Beach with visitors in California

Encinitas

Encinitas is a beach town that revamped itself and is a sort-after destination for beautiful beaches and incredible surfing.

With celebrity chefs, luxury resorts, and incredible views, Encinitas is one of the best beach towns in California. 

Stroll into town and visit the cafes and farmer’s markets when you aren’t relaxing on the beach. 

Just nine minutes down the road in Solana Beach, take a hike on Annie’s Canyon trail (498-450 Solana Hills Dr).

Wear shoes with good traction and finger gloves, as sections of the canyon can be slippery.

View of the ocean and buff covered in greens at Beacon's Beach, San Diego, California

South Mission Beach

San Diego beach cities include South Mission, perfect for its central location near bike paths and other outdoor activities, shops, and an alluring beach.

A great couple’s getaway spot with a laid-back vibe and one of the safest beach towns in California.

The beach has everything for a fun day, great waves, sand, volleyball, fire pits, picnic areas, and plenty of lifeguards. 

You may also like our guide to free things to do in San Diego if you’re looking to explore the city on a budget.

Ocean Beach 

Ocean Beach is a less populated San Diego beach city with beautiful cliffs and tide pools.

A great place to relax, slow down and enjoy the magnificent view.

Besides the relaxing sands, Ocean Beach offers fishing and hiking trails along the cliffs.

There’s also a fully playful beachfront nightlife.

Final Thoughts

Which beach town in California is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Spring Break in California: 23 Destinations & Fun Activities

Avalon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, California.

Looking to spend the spring break in California? Well, you’re in for a treat! 

From world-famous theme parks to stunning beaches, there’s something for everyone in the Golden State. 

To help plan your trip, this guide features destinations and activities you need to try so you can have the best spring break in California.

Whether you’re looking to hike, swim at the sea, visit Disneyland, or eat great food, there’s just a lot to do and enjoy.

And if you’re wondering when is spring break in California, most universities and colleges have theirs around the month of March and early April, which lasts for about a week.

The weather around these months are generally sunny and mild, with average temperatures ranging from the 50s to low 70s Fahrenheit- making it perfect to explore many of the state’s stunning destinations.

You’ll find places and activities below arranged by regions or cities where they are found for easy navigation.

You may also like our California bucket list.

Northern California Spring Break

Listed below are northern California spring break destinations.

There are plenty of fun vacation activities available, from scenic train rides and sightseeing to hiking and skydiving.

Mendocino Coast

If you are looking for Bay Area spring break ideas for you and the kids, Mendocino is an ideal option because there’s plenty to do, and it’s just a few hour’s drive North of San Francisco but far enough to feel like you are on vacation. 

The kids will marvel at the sightings of cows, horses, and goats along your drive toward Bodega Bay.

If you are an oyster lover, the Bodega Bay Oyster Company (12830 Valley Ford Road) is a deserving stopping point for rest and beautiful views. 

Cliff by the sea at Mendocino, California.

Russian Gulch State Park

Take a hike to the waterfall and visit the Devil’s Punchbowl at Russian Gulch State Park (45051 Brest Rd, Mendocino), a 100-foot wide, 60-foot deep partially collapsed sea cave

There’s a less-than-a-mile loop trail in the area that’s easy to hike and takes around 8 minutes to complete.

This is also a popular spot for walking, running, and biking and can be accessed at any time of the year.

Skunk Train

Another one of the main attractions for your spring break in Northern California is riding the Skunk Train. 

Take a 2-hour round trip train ride to Noyo River Canyon while enjoying the beautiful views of nature along the way.

The kids can also enjoy riding the rail bikes, two-seater recumbent bikes with power-assisted pedals that rest on the train tracks. 

Drink Lots of Wine

California spring break ideas for couples or yourself must include a Napa Valley Wine train.

Leave the driving to someone else while you enjoy the fast winery experience. 

Take a ride over Napa Valley in a hot-air balloon and learn about the vineyards that produce fantastic wines. 

Take a guided kayaking tour down the Napa river and experience the valley from a different perspective. 

Napa Valley also features in our San Francisco itinerary and bachelorette party ideas.

Napa Valley welcome sign

Go Skydiving in Monterey

Thrill seekers looking for spring break ideas in California will have fun skydiving in Monterey Bay.

While here, check out the glass boat tours that highlight underwater habitats. 

Another fun activity is to go on a 17-mile bike drive to see scenic Monterey and the Peninsula Recreational Trail.

Plus, early spring is when you can also sight some dolphins in the area.

Put Monterey on your list for spring break ideas for couples, as it offers fantastic beaches, majestic natural parks, and many outdoor activities.

Dolphins swimming at Monetary Bay in California

West Coast Spring Break 

If you love nature and exploring the outdoors, the West Coast has plenty of destinations where you can enjoy such activities.

Listed below are one of the most popular places to visit in the region located in California.

And the spring season allows you to make the most out of your time here as the weather is generally mild, making it comfortable to go outside.

Ease Over to Yosemite

This spring break, take a hike in Yosemite National Park and reconnect with yourself and nature.

The breathtaking views, vast forest, and mountains to explore with picturesque landscapes and giant sequoias will help put it all back into perspective.

For camper outdoorsy types, Yosemite is paradise.

Layer up, as it is still quite chilly during the spring break season.

Yosemite National Park also features in our guide to California in December.

Falls at Yosemite national Park

Mammoth Mountain

Spring break is the best time to get in some late-season time on the slopes in Mammoth Mountain. 

At 11,000 feet of elevation, it is an ideal skiing opportunity. 

Make it a family camping trip and stay at Mammoth Mountain RV Park & Campground (2667 Main St), which has good reviews. 

Go hiking in Mammoth to see green pines, pristine lakes, and beautiful mountains.

Sequoia National Forest 

Sequoia National Forest (1839 South Newcomb Street) is one of the best spring break spots if you want to do something other than go to the beach.

There is much to do here if you enjoy the outdoors and spectacular scenery. 

Your senses will come alive with the scent of fir trees all around.

The Sequoia trees will have you questioning how you measure up as you walk inside the fallen trees.

Looking to visit more destinations like this? Check our guide to the best national parks to visit in March.

Central California Spring Break

Take advantage of the spring break in central California by visiting the places listed below.

Whether you’re looking to see the beach, taste delicious food, or take a museum tour- you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Also, planning to visit California at a much later date? You may want to check our guide to California in fall.

Drive Down the Central Coast

If you are seeking ideas for spring break destinations for kids, take a drive down Highway 1 and bask on any of the epic California beaches during spring break (Pismo, Avila, and Cambria), as they are a short distance from each other. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the elephant seal pups sunbathing this time of year. 

You can also spend an afternoon at Sea Chest Oyster Bar (6216 Moonstone Beach Dr, Cambria) to taste their oyster Rockefeller and fried calamari steak while enjoying the views of the sunset near the beach.

With farm adventures, beach days, and delicious food options, the Central Coast is a great destination for spring break in California for the entire family. 

Wooden walkway along the sea at Cambria, California.

Take the Family to San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is one of the finest spring break destinations for families in California.

The parents love the weekly farmer’s markets, with live performances by local street artists, and the children’s museum is a hit with the kids. 

College students come for an abundance of nightlife activities.

The nice weather makes the free breaches a popular location, along with hiking and biking for everyone. 

Santa Barbara

With so many activities to offer, Santa Barbara is one of the best April vacation spots for spring break. 

For indoor activities, you can spend time at MOXI (125 State Street), a museum featuring not only art exhibits but also interactive programs for both children and adults.

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, go on a beach kayaking tour at Santa Barbara Channel to take in the sights of California’s coastline or learn more about the marine ecology in the area.

You can also take a wine tour in Santa Barbara and taste some of the best wines. 

Whale watch over a glass of wine on a catamaran cruise, as there is something special to see every season.

Aerial view of buildings and houses in Santa Barbara, California.

Spring Break in Southern California

Whether you’re looking to relax or get your adrenaline pumping, southern California is one of the best places to be this spring break.

This region in California is home to world-class theme parks like Disneyland, Legoland, and Universal Studios- perfect for families going on a trip.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll also find plenty of beaches to swim, camp, or enjoy some water-based activities.

Go Beach Camping

Looking for a beach getaway in California during spring break?

Head to Silver Strand State Beach (5000 CA-75) for beach camping.

College students needing to get away from the crazy demands of classwork and exams can rent an RV, reserve a spot in the park, and have the waves outside their door.

Universal Studios

Spring break in Los Angeles makes sense with all there is to do and see, like Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Plaza).

Droves of people arrive here, college students and families alike, for the heart-pumping fun. 

You might even see a celebrity or two as some frequent the park for the massive theme attraction. 

At the entrance of the Park is Universal City Walk, where if you didn’t know better, you could mistake it as the main attraction, with fun games, a cinema, and plenty of places to eat, and entry is free. 

Santa Monica Beach

A popular destination is Santa Monica beach for spring break, as the beach lures you in, and the Pier keeps you here with lots of games, rides, and various food options so everyone will be happy.

You can take the family here often, as there are so many fun things to keep everyone entertained, not just for spring break in Los Angeles.

Santa Monica also features in our list of the best beach towns in California.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

Venice Beach

Down the boardwalk from Santa Monica is the famous Venice Beach, where you can walk, skate or bike to get to.

The place is teeming with people who come to Santa Monica for spring break to relish the live music, local vendors, and street artists. 

People come from around the world to be a part of the energy of Venice Beach, and spring break turns that energy up even more. 

Venice Beach also features in our guide to California beach cities.

Venice Sign in LA

Disneyland

It may be no surprise that Disneyland is at the top of the spring break destinations for families in California, as it has something for everyone. 

Take advantage of the spring break Disneyland passes to plan easy maneuvering through the crowds. 

Consider a private transfer to Anaheim to make your trip easier.

Corona del Mar State Beach Park

Corona del Mar State Beach Park has several access points and is a great destination to visit during spring in California for families, couples, and college students. 

A two-minute walk will land you at Pirate’s Cove Beach. 

Volleyball, snorkeling, sunbathing, and bonfires make this an excellent place for college kids to let loose. 

The beach can get crowded so arrive early to mark your territory. 

Head to Catalina Island

Southwest of LA, Catalina Island is on the top ten list for spring break destinations for college students and families taking a trip to California in spring, as the boats and ships on the ice-blue waters are inviting. 

Catalina Island delivers if you want parasailing, scuba diving, hiking, or fishing.

There are also casinos, museums, and restaurants to enjoy.

Avalon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, California.

Laguna Beach

Laguna beach spring break is the best spot to lay on a beautiful beach and take advantage of the great restaurants and art galleries. 

They also have a great club scene with good music and good vibes. 

Laguna beach attracts a good crowd for spring break and is one to keep on the list if you are planning a trip. 

Laguna Beach with visitors in California

Visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a go-to destination for any time of year but especially spring break for its great weather, beaches, and many things to do and see.  

If you are thinking of going to Palm Springs for spring break, take a ride on the aerial tramway for unbelievable views. 

This city is known for its architecture and public art.

Purchase a day pass to soak in the hot springs and relax during a Greater Palm Springs spring break, about 20 minutes away. 

Palm Springs also features in our guide to warm places to visit in the USA in December.

Saguaro Colorful Hotel Palm Springs California.

Legoland, San Diego

San Diego is one of the best spring break destinations in California because it has the beach, great food, and several things to see and do.

One popular destination that attracts families here for spring break is Legoland (One Legoland Dr).

The place is filled with kid-friendly activities like rides, space-themed playgrounds, and a water park.

Visiting San Diego on a budget? Check out our guide to free things to do in San Diego.

Mission Bay & Beaches in San Diego, California

Coronado Beach 

When planning your family’s California spring break trip, check out Coronado Beach (100 Ocean Blvd), as it checks all the boxes for one of the best beach vacations in California.

Families love coming here for one of the safest places to swim, clean sand, and pristine facilities. 

While your teens are surfing or paddle boarding and your younger ones are making sandcastles, you can relax on the soft sand.

San Diego's skyline seen from Coronado Island California.

Baja California 

College students, pack your bags and head to Baja California for spring break if you are looking for top-of-the-line resorts, stunning beaches, and fun night-time activities.  

The closest thing to a tropical getaway and one of the best warm places for spring break, you will capture some of the most Instagram-deserving images here.

Baja California Coastline

Final Thoughts

We hoped you enjoyed the activities and destinations we featured for spring break in California.

Let us know your favorite spots or activities in the comments below.