Here Are the 20 Best Beaches in California

Did your favorite make the list?

The Golden State is blessed with just over 3,400 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. This impressive span hosts dozens of incredible public beaches to enjoy year round. Coastal Living picked their favorite 20 from top to bottom. Here are few of the highlights:

Downtown Avila Beach, Avila Beach

“The small community of Avila Beach—and the eponymous Downtown Avila Beach in its center—has something for everyone. Set almost midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the beach itself boasts a half-mile stretch of sand with family-friendly amenities like BBQ pits and volleyball courts, but the town beyond is full of wine shops, tasting rooms and art galleries where adults can frolic after the kids have gone to bed.

For golf enthusiasts, the Avila Beach Golf Resort lies to the northwest; adventurers big and small will be captivated by the otherworldly sea caves along the coast to the east, where stone structures seem to sprout from the sea.”

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

“Pfeiffer Beach’s famed purple sand—caused by run-off from the surrounding rock cliffs after rain—towering rock formations, and crashing waves make it a photographer’s paradise.

Pfeiffer Beach, in the thick of Big Sur’s long-heralded, rugged coastline, isn’t for swimming or sunbathing; instead, visitors can take in the views, climb over the terrain, explore the famous arch rock and revel in the feeling of being lost in the wilderness, even as cars rush by on Highway 1 only two miles away.”

Capitola City Beach, Capitola

“Capitola City Beach, across the bay from Monterey and a little more than five miles out of the heart of Santa Cruz, is bookended by ocean bluffs but level with Capitola’s colorful (literally—many storefronts are painted tropical hues) downtown; visitors and residents alike hop from beach to town throughout the day.

In fact, you can step straight from the sand to artists’ shops and local restaurants of California’s oldest seaside resort town and a 2016 Happiest Seaside Town. A 855-foot long wooden fishing wharf on the west side of the beach holds even more restaurants and offers sweeping views of Monterey Bay.”

Check out all 20 beaches here.

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