Our selection of the best family beaches in Los Angeles for a perfect California family getaway. Best family LA beaches for kids’ swimming, bodyboarding, surfing and tide pooling.
Los Angeles beaches are one of the many reasons why we adore going on vacation to Los Angeles with our kids.
Depending on where you go, in LA you find large beaches with soft sand and beautiful piers, pretty coves with stunning rocks and secluded sandy patches and more exposed beaches where you can surf or lay in the sun while watching the professionals!
After several summers in LA and a lot of fun beach hopping, these are our favorite family beaches in the Los Angeles.
Varied for style and vibe, I am sure you will have no difficulty finding the best family beach in Los Angels for you and your kids, no matter their age and your travel style.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Best family beaches in Los Angeles: our top picks!
Santa Monica State Beach – our favorite beach in LA for a family vacation
Santa Monica beach is the first family beach in Los Angeles we experienced, and it is simply perfect for kids.
The beach itself is a large long soft expanse of clean, light-colored sand as far as the eye can see. Lifeguard turrets dot the shore, and the water is perfect for swimming, bodyboarding and surfing.
The most prominent landmark on Santa Monica beach is the pier.
This is an old, large pier with lots to do for kids: here you have a rollercoaster, carnival games, churros vendors, trapeze school, and food and coffee options for the whole family, as well as a small aquarium.
Farther down on the beach, there is the excellent Annenberg community house.
This is a fantastic beach club with a family-friendly restaurant on the sand, a kids’ playground on the beach and a pool.
This is a brilliant place for a casual family lunch on the seafront and one of our favorite family spots in the city.
Santa Monica town center is a minute walk from the beach and a large car park means you can park here with relative ease.
Thanks to the many things to do, the proximity to the city, ease of access, and beautiful sand, we think this is one of the best beaches in LA for families with kids of any age. It is free too! Find our guide to Santa Monica with kids here.
Top Tip: is staying for a few days, stay at one of the wonderful beachside hotels or vacation available in the area. Find family hotels in Santa Monica here.
Venice Beach – best family beach in Los Angeles for people watching
Venice Beach is a beautiful, sandy family-friendly beach in LA, immediately south of Santa Monica.
The two beaches are connected by a fun promenade that you can walk or bike and they have in common stunning soft sand and beautiful waters.
Venice beach, however, has a style of its own!
Venice Beach several family-friendly attractions such as swings and a skate park (watching the skaters is mindblowing, they are incredible!), but it also has a boardwalk that some families love but others find a bit intense!
Here, you have quite a variety of people, from holidaymakers to the homeless, shops that sell stuff ranging from the cute to the plain rude (some of the writings on the t-shirt and note exactly U rated!) – it is very much not a squeaky clean type of place.
That said, the beach is stunning and it can be pretty fun to experience with kids.
Our two embraced the weird and wonderful, but the boardwalk is not to everyone’s taste. You can read out guide about visiting Venice Beach with kids here.
Top Tip: we love this beach for a family day out. For the best fun, I recommend you get bikes and divide your day between here and Santa Monica Beach. The ride is short, easy and kid-friendly!
Manhattan Beach is a fantastic family beach in Los Angeles’ South Bay.
It is a large beach for families with long expanses of soft sand, beautiful waters, a beach volley area and a pier that is beautiful to walk and ends with a small yet fun aquarium with a free entrance.
Manhattan Beach is a lovely community with cute shops and restaurants and a great place to spend a day on and off the sand.
We recommend visiting Pages, a beautiful bookshop with a cute kids section on the main Manhattan beach main street.
Top tip! You can rent rollerblades in Hermosa beach and come to Manhattan beach following the beach path. It is a beautiful promenade for adults and kids, both on wheels and without!
Manhattan Beach has wonderful architecture and can be a lovely home base for a Southern California vacation. Find family-friendly hotels and rentals here.
Hermosa Beach – our favorite family-friendly beach in Los Angeles South
Hermosa Beach is our favorite family beach in LA.
We called Hermosa home for a while summer and we find it one of the best kid-friendly spots in LA.
The beach here is lovely and sandy, perfect for swimming under the watchful eye of the lifeguards, and it is also suitable for bodyboarding, something our kids did endlessly here!
The beach is d by a lovely promenade perfect for rollerblading, walk or skateboard and there are free restrooms right at the beach entrance.
Hermosa Beach’s main promenade and restaurants are just beside the beach and have all you may need: restaurants, shops, and bike/beach gear rentals are all right next to the beach! Find our full guide to Hermosa beach with kids here.
Top Tip: Hermosa Beach is wonderful for a family vacation or weekend getaway and has nice hotels for families. Find family-friendly hotels in Hermosa Beach LA here.
Zuma beach is one of the best family beaches in LA for kids of any age.
The beach here is vast and sandy, and you have good showers and restrooms.
Lifeguards are on duty and patrol the beach with beach buggies: super fun to watch for the kids and great for peace of mind!
The beach is vast and open, which means the waves can be stronger than in other areas but lifeguards are able to direct to the best spots or you can keep the kids entertained by making sandcastles, playing at the volleyball pitches or having a picnic.
There is plenty of space here, even on busy days!
Malibu Surfrider beach
Malibu Surfrider Beach is a lovely beach for kids in LA located in fabulous Malibu, to the north of the city.
The beach is next to beautiful Malibu Pier and there is good parking (pay and display) with restrooms just at the pier entrance, where you also find the excellent Malibu Mark restaurants.
The beach itself is a lovely place to watch surfers who simply glide over the long waves of this beach!
The beach is not huge but it is sandy and it degrades gently towards the water, which means it is perfect for young kids.
You can swim and go bodyboard here: however, I do recommend you bring water shoes and a rash guard for kids: this area is a little rockier than others.
Malibu Surfrider Beach is part of the Malibu Lagoon which is also fantastic for bird watching and to get that quintessential Southern California beach and surf experience.
Top tip! if you head out to Malibu, spend the day. You can find our guide to all you can do in Malibu in one day here.
Malibu El Matador Beach – best family beach in LA for scenery (older kids and teens)
El Matador Beach is a beautiful family-friendly beach in Malibu, north LA, particularly suited to older kids and teens.
Unlike others on the list, El Matador is a small, scenic cove with stunning rock formations that make it one of the most instagrammable spots in the area.
Here, you can swim and sunbathe and especially you can watch the sunset, spectacular on the rugged coastline of this beach!
Access to the beach is via steps, and paid parking is available just at the top: this is a great family beach in LA for families who want a scenic beach and do not mind steps, rather than as sandcastle making spot!
El Matador Beach is jaw-droppingly beautiful and should not be missed!
Leo Carrillo State Park Beach
Leo Carrillo State Park beach is a great family beach in Los Angeles if you have kids who love tide pooling.
You need to come here in the right season and the right time of the day to spot the best pools but if you do, it is magical for kids!
Equip them with water shoes, rashguards and sunglasses, and they will spot ocean critters for ages.
The beach has restrooms and good parking and it is popular with families and dog owners since it is also go-friendly. If your kids love dogs, they will love it here!
More resources for your beach day on California beaches with kids
Find our handy list of toddler beach essentials so you know you will have all you need for long hours on the sand.
Grab our list of kid-friendly snacks and make ahead easy meals for the beach
Equip yourself with a good beach bag for mamas, so you can carry all you need and look good in the process
Consider getting a summer baby carrier, to wear your baby in hot climate and even water without overheating.
Consider a baby sun tent to protect your little one from sun and wind.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of our favorite and best family beaches in LA and it gave you ideas for a fun day out with the kids!
Can’t get enough of California beaches? Then also have a look at our favorite family beaches in San Diego.
Considering other options? Here is the list of our favorite family beach destinations in the USA