It didn’t take the silver screen of Hollywood or the groovy beats of the Beach Boys to turn California’s beautiful coast into the famous attraction it now is, but with publicity like that, who can help but dream of a California beach getaway. Not even the first European explorers who reached California’s shores in the early 1500s could’ve envisioned the golden beaches and delightful Mediterranean style climate that lie ahead. Today, these beaches still shimmer and shine, but it’s the holiday makers who are looking to claim a spot in the sun.
A recreational resort town dating back to 1905, Venice Beach got its name for the canals built around the city. Today, this suburb of Los Angeles is known for the long stretch of beachfront which has become famous for its historic pier and the many colourful visitors who frequent it. Shown in many movies and TV shows, Venice Beach is most known for its paved beachside promenade which is especially popular with joggers and roller bladders. Nicknamed “Muscle Beach” for the fitness crazed muscle men that workout on the outdoor platform, Venice Beach continues to be a top spot for fun and recreation.
Baker Beach, with its up-close view of the Golden Gate Bridge may not be the best place for a swim due to its rough surf and dramatic undertow, but its spectacular views make it a standout place to sunbake or enjoy a picnic. Just 800 metres long, the beach begins at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and continues along the Pacific Coast where sea lions can often be spotted. A word of caution however for those with prudish sensibilities – the northern section of the beach closest to the bridge is clothing optional.
California’s Big Sur is known for its rocky coastline and quiet, secluded coves. Pfeiffer Beach is located in the heart of Big Sur country and is one of the area’s most popular beaches. The short walking trail that takes visitors on a path through the trees is nature’s way of gift wrapping the views that lie ahead. With waves crashing against the distant rock formations, Pfeiffer Beach is the perfect place to recharge and enjoy the view.
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Just 5 or 6 miles south of Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach is the regular hang-out spot for surfers, sun bathers and energetic beach volleyball enthusiasts. At over 400 feet wide there’s plenty of room to spread out and find a comfortable spot on the sand to sun bake and people watch. The historic Manhattan Beach Pier features a popular aquarium and offers a pleasant spot on which to enjoy the beautiful California sunsets.
A loner’s dream, this four mile stretch of white sand beach is just the place for a secluded walk along the shore. Located about a 40 minute drive south of San Francisco, the beach is not only a great spot for sunbathing, but beachgoers here can often be seen fishing and picnicking. Parts of the beach are also popular for surfing and there’s a golf course with sweeping seaside vistas. There’s also a campground on which to enjoy however reservations are required.
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