Photo by Marisa Padilla
There is no denying that Malibu has some of the most scenic and undisturbed beaches in California, and they are right in Pepperdine’s backyard. But, California offers a wide variety of beaches, each with their own distinct look and feel that really captures the laid-back west coast spirit.
If you’re looking to spend the day at the beach away from Malibu but don’t want to drive that far, Santa Monica State Beach is the perfect place to go. Its ever clear waters and long stretches of sand make it easy to lose track of time and idle the day away under the sun. The sunsets are truly breathtaking too.
Its central location makes it perfect for turning a few hours at the beach into a day-long excursion. Just a minutes’ walk away (depending on where you parked) is the iconic Santa Monica Pier, with its glowing Ferris wheel at night and the Third Street Promenade, which offers a wide variety of dining and shopping options. If you plan on going to Santa Monica State Beach on the weekend, especially during the summer peak season, make sure you get there early to find parking.
For a beach with a more laid-back, artsy appeal, try visiting Venice Beach. The boardwalk is lined with rows of eclectic shops selling everything from classic souvenir shirts to handmade jewelry, and don’t forget to check out the local street artists demonstrating their work along the sidewalk — they have some of the best beach art around.
Venice Beach is also known for Muscle Beach, so don’t be surprised to see weight machines scattered around the grassy areas or packed basketball courts overlooking the water. Venice Beach is home to the famous Sidewalk Cafe, centrally located in the middle of the boardwalk under a huge awning.
The Sidewalk Cafe offers huge portions of classic beach food with a great view of Venice Beach. It also showcases local acoustic artists every night. A word of caution when going to Venice Beach — keep your eyes open or you might get hit by one of the many rollerbladers cruising along the packed boardwalk.
Manhattan Beach offers all the beauty and entertainment of a California beach but with a more mellow, locals-only feel compared to Santa Monica and Venice. The pier isn’t too crowded and has a free aquarium at the end. Downtown Manhattan Beach is known for its quaint coffee shops and one-of-a-kind pubs and grills, all just a short walk away from the pier. If a relaxed day at a quiet beach is what you are seeking, Manhattan Beach is the perfect getaway.
There’s nothing like a Southern California beach, and if you are willing to make a little bit of a drive, Huntington Beach is a great place to go for a day at the beach. Known as Surf City U.S.A., Huntington Beach has a laid back atmosphere and some of the best surfing in Southern California. There is never a shortage of things to do on its main street either, with a farmers market and street fair held every Tuesday evening and an art show held on Fridays. If you’re in the mood for ice cream after a long day at the beach, try stopping at Magiamo’s on Main Street — they boast some of the best gelato in Southern California. While Huntington Beach has a great locals-only feel during the off season, it can get pretty crowded during the summer, especially during the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Next time you’re looking to plan a beach day away from Malibu, try cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway and stopping at some of these noteworthy beaches.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
As published in the Sept. 26 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.