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You can’t visit the LA area and not go to the beach. That is unheard of. It’s like visiting Jerusalem and not seeing the Wailing Wall. The sandy Garden of Eden is a must for any tourist or transient that stumbles upon the yellow stand staring at the Pacific ocean in amazement. And it’s all free. Nature’s stimulus check. Here are the best beaches in Los Angeles.

Leo Carrillo State Park

An ecologically diverse spot with rocky crags jutting into the ocean, Malibu mountains to hike, and pristine water with rich tide pools. Leo Carrillo state park is set almost two mile of beach, it’s a paradise lost for surfers, swimmers, beach loungers, windsurfers, fishing enthusiasts, and curious explorers of coastal caves. Though the water at Leo Carrillo is accommodating for most visitors, the best part is the beach’s campground canopied by huge sycamore trees.

Huntington City Beach

121-acres park established in 1942 that spans from the top of Orange County. Huntington City Beach is the most iconic beach on this stretch. It’s famous for its International Surfing Museum, along with its vibrant day and nightlife. There are a variety of surf shops if you want to get a board or purchase a towel, this also includes a myriad of restaurants, bars, local breweries, and an awesome pier. Don’t forget a fish taco!

El Matador State Beach

Is a hop, skip and jump from the airport. It’s a hidden treasure down a steep staircase with jagged rock formations that rise from the Pacific, plus tide pools for our undersea friends. If you check them out for photos or simple exploration, make sure to wear water shoes as the rocks can be difficult slippery. El Matador is a natural wonder so no tourist traps or services. Bring a beach towel, sunscreen, and picnic gear, and you’ll be good for the day.

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach is a sandy beach south of LAX. It’s one of the most easily accessible beaches in LA, and parking is plentiful (at $6 to $13 per car, depending on the season). It’s a great hang gliding spot with a nice swimming zone, including a gentle breeze and still water to paddle out in. The water is crystal clear, and warm soft sands are pleasant for barefoot walks. Whether you’re swimming, or want to enjoy enjoy an evening beachside barbecue, or take a hang gliding lesson, Dockweiler is a great choice.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is the embodiment of the California lifestyle you grew up watching on TV: sand dotted with year-round tans, good-looking people playing volleyball, beach cruisers gliding by with toy dogs in tow yapping out of baskets, and cute, family-owned restaurants and bars. You can drive and park, but it’s just as easy to access this beach on two wheels: Take a bike ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail from Redondo or even as far away Santa Monica—it’s a workout and a sightseeing tour in one.

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