By Anais Sawyer

SoCal is known world-wide for its miles of sandy shorelines but these beachside town hangouts are just as fabulous as the beaches. Soak up the charm offered in these coastal cities, whether you prefer shopping, dining, or exploring. All four locations have a sprinkle of something for everyone.


This iconic beach city is nestled in between the Santa Monica Mountains and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. Malibu offers travelers a plethora of unique beaches to visit. Famed Zuma Beach is a hotspot for both surfing enthusiasts and sunbathers who want to soak up some of SoCal’s rays. Farther north, Leo Carrillo and El Matador beckon visitors to explore the caves on its shores. On rare overcast days, explore the Getty Villa, sister museum to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Operated by the J. Paul Getty Foundation, the Getty Villa displays priceless artifacts from worlds of ancient Greece and Rome. The Villa itself is a re-creation of an ancient Roman country house with spectacular views of the Pacific.

While journeying along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to locals), there are numerous hotels, shops, and eateries. Each complement and add charm to the drive. The newly renovated Surfrider Malibu offers rooms complete with a view of the sparkling Pacific waves. Across the street, Malibu Farms on the Malibu Pier presents both locally sourced fare and a place for patrons to unwind after a day in the sun.

Redondo Beach

Founded in 1892, Redondo was the original location for the Port of Los Angeles County, and visitors have continued to flock to this beachside town ever since. Its striking landscape has even been the backdrop of blockbuster movies like Point Break, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and TV settings for Baywatch, and The O.C.

Redondo Beach rests between Hermosa Beach and Palos Verdes, and is the ideal beachside town hangout. It offers visitors the opportunity to cycle along the coastline, explore unique shops, and dine on distinctly Southern Californian cuisine. The centrally located Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach & Marina offers upscale amenities, an intimate lobby bar, and an ocean-view recreation deck. On Sundays, vendors come together to highlight their produce full of local flavor at the Farmers Market in Riviera Village. With Spanish and coastal French style, Gabi James restaurant entices guests with cuisine from these two regions in its newly designed open-air restaurant.

On the waterfront, R10 Social House offers specialty cocktails and locally sourced dishes in a gastropub environment. Additionally, the Redondo Beach Pier is home to more than 10 eateries and storefronts that offer beach-inspired clothing, gifts, and flowers. In March, visitors to the Pier can enjoy the annual Festival of the Kite, which allows spectators to participate in one of the longest running kite festivals in California.

Newport Beach

Journey to this harborside town where surf and sunshine dominate year-round. The Newport Pier allows the chance for visitors to fish, spot dolphins and seals, and watch surfers glide across the waves. On a clear day, you can even see the silhouette of Catalina Island.

A Farmers’ Market occurs at the base of the Pier every Sunday. Additionally, the Lido Marina Village is host to the Annual Newport Beach Boat Show. Visitors can tour sailboats, catamarans, sport fishers, and some of the finest yachts in the world. Further down the coastline lies Corona Del Mar, where beach goers can walk along the sand and listen to the horn blower in the distance. Sightseers can stay at the luxurious Pelican Hill, where five-star accommodations offer the perfect location to relax and rejuvenate.

Break away from the mainland and visit Newport’s Balboa Island. Here, locals and tourists alike can take a ferry across the small channel to visit charming shops, restaurants, and beach-inspired boutiques. You can even enjoy a famous frozen chocolate banana and pay homage to the Bluth family from Netflix’s Arrested Development.

Laguna Beach

As you continue farther down the coast you will run into Laguna Beach, another fun beachside town Hangout. Home to the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Festival, Laguna Beach is a mecca for both art and beach lovers. Art galleries, shops, and restaurants all offer products with local Laguna flair. The Laguna Beach Transit and Trolleys provide a convenient way for travelers to see everything situated within the city. In addition, hotels such as The Inn at Laguna Beach and La Casa del Camino are peppered along North Coast Highway. Those allow visitors the chance to explore everything Laguna has to offer. Have a bite to eat at The Cliff, where you can enjoy a cocktail or two alongside the ocean-front view.

Wander away from the heart of the city to experience Victoria’s Beach. During low tide, you can venture to the spiral tower built next to the cliff. Known fondly as the “The Pirate Tower,” this 60-foot encased staircase was built in 1926. I was designed to connect the beach to the estate that sat atop the cliff. While the inside of the tower is now closed off to the public, you can still imagine yourself in the time of pirates, damsels, and buried treasure.

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