Best Beaches in LA for Babies, Toddlers & Big Kids

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Hitting the beach is one of our favorite, free things to do in LA but when you google “kid friendly beaches near me” or “best beach for kids near me” you’ll get a lot of suggestions that are well, not the best. We’ve gone out and did a little digging (pun intended) to find and report back on the best beaches for families near LA—not just any old beach will do for our SoCal babes. For toddlers to teens and everyone in between, here’s our favorite kid-friendly beaches from Malibu to Long Beach.

Malibu: Leo Carrillo State Park

One of the best beaches in LA for families, Leo Carrillo State Park has plenty of space spread out without the crowds. Added bonus? When the tide goes out, you’ll also find some of LA’s best tide pools and sea caves for kids to play and explore. Another bonus for families that have a dog? Swing up to North Beach (north of lifeguard tower 3) to one of the few beaches in the county where you won’t have to leave your four-legged friend behind—just don’t forget the leash. Want to spend more than just the day here? Make a reservation at one of the campgrounds available along the beach—just check the website as things tend to change quickly. 

Sticking with a day trip but don’t think you’ll spend all day on the sand? Here are some of our favorite fun things Malibu has to offer. 

35000 West Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov/

Long Beach: Bay Shore Beach

Not necessarily a secret but for some guaranteed calm, soft, sandy beaches without waves, head farther south to Bay Shore Beach. One of the best beaches for toddlers in all of LA, parents can relax here thanks to a lack of big waves but still have access to lots of amenities like a swim dock, a playground, a concession stand, paddle board rentals, plus public restrooms and showers. There is also free street parking on Bay Shore Drive.

Insider Tip: Check out these fun things to do with kids in Long Beach if you have a few more hours to spend post-beach hang.

5415 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach
Online: longbeach.gov

Palos Verdes: Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

Tucked at the end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park offers two beaches (Abalone Cove & Sacred Cove), a State Ecological Preserve, tide pools, hiking trails and gorgeous views of Catalina Island on clear days. The hike down is easy but the hike back up can be a work out so plan to leave the beach just before the kids are all tuckered out—otherwise you will end up carrying them. One of our favorite spots with older kids and teens, the Rancho Palos Verdes beaches, are a tad rocky so don’t forget to bring water shoes. 

Insider Tip: Go during low tide to maximize tide pool exploration. Pay attention to the signs as some parts of the peninsula has been closed due to falling rocks.

5970 Palos Verdes Dr. South
Rancho Palos Verdes
Online: rpvca.gov

Malibu: Westward Beach

Located on the southern portion of Point Dume Beach in Malibu, this lovely stretch of sand is both private and picturesque and is one of the best kid beaches in California. While you might recognize it as a backdrop in Iron Man, the large cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for your family’s beach day. Hike up the Point Dume path and you may catch a glimpse of body surfing dolphins or climbers repelling the rocky cliff.

If you are looking for your own little adventure, there’s a hidden sandy spot behind the southern rock wall called Pirates Cove Beach. The easiest way to access it is to time it with low tide and walk around the rock wall, otherwise you’ll have to scramble over the rocks to access this secret spot. 

Insider Tip: This north-facing beach’s surf breaks shallow and close to shore so make sure to keep an extra eye on beginning swimmers at the water’s edge.

Westward Beach Rd.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov

Malibu: El Matador Beach

Located within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Park, kids can explore sea caves, tunnels and more rock formations. While not exactly a super secret (the Instagram crowd has definitely caught on to this photogenic spot), this beach is certainly less crowded than tourist hotspots like Santa Monica. Be prepared to trek down some steep stairs to make it to the sand—save this location for kids who can manage the steps. There is limited free parking on PCH or you can pay a fee to park in the lot.

Insider Tip: Check the tide levels before you go—during high tide, the water covers most of the beach, so you’ll want to go when the tide’s low.

32215 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov

Kid-Friendly Beaches near LA That Are Worth the Drive

Oxnard, CA: Hollywood Beach

About an hour north of Los Angeles, you’ll find the sprawling, often nearly empty Hollywood Beach. Escape for the day to enjoy free parking, volleyball courts, plus plenty of space for kite flying and a long stretch of shore, perfect for little ones who love splashing in the waves. Not to mention, gorgeous views of the Channel Islands—you might even see whales migrating!

Insider Tip: Ventura County is great, family-friendly destination. To extend your day trip, check out what to do with kids in Ventura

Harbor Blvd. in Channel Islands Harbor
Oxnard
Online: visitoxnard.com

–Christina Montoya Fiedler & Andie Huber

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