• July 10, 2023

The Best Beach Towns in California: A Local’s Guide

The Best Beach Towns in California: A Local’s Guide

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California, a land of golden dreams and endless horizons, is home to some of the most enchanting beach towns in the world. These coastal gems, each with its unique charm and character, offer more than just sun, sand, and surf. They are communities rich in history, culture, and the quintessential California spirit. Join us as we journey along the Pacific Coast Highway, exploring the best beach towns in California through the eyes of a local.


Carmel River State Beach view from Scenic Road

Our journey begins in the storybook town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. With its fairytale cottages, world-class art galleries, and pristine white sand beach, Carmel Beach is a testament to the harmonious blend of nature and culture. Don’t miss the iconic Carmel Mission, a piece of California’s rich history.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Next, we venture to Laguna Beach, a town synonymous with the California art scene. Its stunning coastline serves as a muse for artists, while the town itself is a canvas adorned with art galleries, festivals, and public art installations. The crystal-clear waters of its beaches are a haven for snorkelers and divers.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz - Natural Bridges State Beach

Santa Cruz, with its vibrant boardwalk and historic amusement park, exudes a nostalgic charm. This surf city is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering everything from surfing and paddleboarding to hiking in the nearby redwood forests.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Known as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara enchants with its Spanish colonial architecture, lush vineyards, and palm-lined beaches. The town’s laid-back elegance and Mediterranean climate make it a favorite among those seeking a sophisticated seaside escape.


Avalon, Catalina Island

Avalon, the only incorporated town on Santa Catalina Island, is a world unto itself. Its Mediterranean vibe, quaint shops, and outdoor activities, from hiking to scuba diving, make it a unique California beach town experience.


Capitola pier


Capitola, one of the oldest beach towns in California, charms with its colorful seaside homes and tranquil beach. The town’s vibrant events, like the Capitola Art & Wine Festival, add to its allure.


Meditation Gardens Encinitas CA

In Encinitas, the spirit of Southern California’s surf culture is alive and well. This laid-back town is known for its surf breaks, botanical gardens, and the iconic La Paloma Theatre.



Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Sausalito offers stunning bay views, houseboat communities, and a thriving arts scene. Its waterfront restaurants and boutiques add to its coastal charm.


From the storybook charm of Carmel-by-the-Sea to the surf culture of Encinitas, these beach towns embody the diverse beauty of California’s coastline. They are places where the pace slows, the heart opens, and the soul is recharged by the rhythm of the waves. So, whether you’re a beachcomber, a sun worshipper, an art lover, or a wine enthusiast, there’s a California beach town that feels like home.

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