Nobody likes insanely over-crowded beaches and negative amounts of parking spaces. Especially when it’s eight-thousand degrees outside in Southern California and all you want to do is shimmy down to your swimmies and (possibly) go into the freezing cold Pacific Ocean.
Unfortunately, some of SoCal’s most popular attractions are its beaches, which means there’s a good chance they will be packed, and parking will be impossible the majority of the time. But not to fear! There are quite a few lesser-known, “chill” beaches you can head to, and I know they have parking, because I wouldn’t have gotten out of the car to check them out had I not found a space!
So if you get tired of trying to inch your way through the traffic to get to the beach in Santa Monica or Venice, consider taking a trek a little further north or south to some of these hidden gem babies! You might even find parking on Labor Day Weekend!
1. El Matador Beach
El Matador Beach is unique because of the rock formations along the shores and its awesome name
I found this beach because the name sounded cool. Not joking. Then I Google-imaged it and saw that it’s actually pretty unique compared to most beaches I’ve seen in SoCal because of the awesome rock formations along the coast. It’s about 45 minutes-1 hour north of Malibu and there’s plenty of free parking on the road before the paid-parking lot…but that’s an option too.
NOTE: They are annoyingly strict about no-alcohol here…so be smart about disguising it in a juice box or something.
2. Broad Beach
A broad with a dog on Broad Beach
All of the beaches in Malibu kind of look the same to me, but Broad Beach is one that’s a little further north of the area where most people go, therefore, a lot less people go to it. It’s also a lot more private because there’s a lot of (expensive) residences on its shores, so finding public access might be a little difficult, but worth it if you seek seclusion.
3. Carbon Beach
Carbon Beach is chill because it’s technically a residential beach area
Here’s another sandy shore in front of the insanely expensive beach-front houses in Malibu. Before they were built the public access ramps were already installed, which means technically you’re still allowed to go there, unlike some of Malibu’s private “residential” beach areas (how does one claim an area of ocean?), but for the most part, you’ll only find locals or the people renting out the homes on vacation.
4. Long Beach
There’s nothing really on Long Beach besides sand..
For some reason Long Beach isn’t on the “popular list” of beaches in SoCal…at least according to what I’ve heard. I’ll admit…I did keep my shoes on while walking through the questionably littered sand…BUT the reason why I went there in the first place is because it’s one of the only dog-friendly beaches in Southern California!!!
5. Seal Beach
Seal Beach is in a really cute neighborhood and has some of the whitest sand I’ve seen in Cali
Seal Beach is nestled in this adorable little neighborhood just south of Long Beach, with tons of free parking on the streets. It’s extremely clean and the sand is some of the most powdery-feeling sand I’ve ever felt in California! Plus the shore is shallow so it’s a bit warmer than other beaches, and the waves aren’t as dominating and scary.
6. Sunset Beach
Sharks? No thanks.
Sunset Beach is another one that’s nestled in an adorable neighborhood, but the parking was impossible so I didn’t bother completely stopping. Plus I saw a sign that said there had been shark sitings there so yeah…no thanks. It did look super clean and non-crowded despite the non-parking situation, and the restrooms were really clean as well.
7. Bolsa Chica State Park
Here’s a nice long stretch of beach that’s perfect for big groups and has plenty of parking even though you have to pay for it. It also has great waves for surfing, and a bike path it you want to take a ride over to where the Navy base is. Usually they have a really cool Navy ship there and you can see the guys working out on it!
8. Huntington Beach
Beaches are more fun when there’s “stuff” around
Huntington Beach is super chill, and the parking wasn’t too terrible, although for Labor Day weekend you might want to opt for an Uber. There’s a really cute shop and restaurant lined street across from it and the actual beach is clean with gentle surf that’s actually swim-able. There’s also volleyball nets and a pier you can walk on.
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!