A Guide to Los Angeles Beaches

A Guide to Los Angeles Beaches

Planning a sun-drenched LA getaway? We rounded up the best beaches along the coast to help you escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Best of the West Side:

Venice Beach

No trip to lala land is complete without a stroll down Venice Beach’s infamous Ocean Front Walk, where a host of colorful characters upstage the Pacific Ocean. The circus-like boardwalk is jam-packed with eccentric artists, bohemian palm readers, indie shopping, and Lords of Dogtown-ish skateboarders, all to the backdrop of some of the city’s most vibrant street art. If you’re craving vegan eats or farm to table fare, you’ll find that and more in Venice’s thriving restaurant scene. And the people watching? It doesn’t get better than Venice Beach, where anything goes (we once saw a guy walking around in a Tarzan outfit carrying a boa constrictor).

Santa Monica Beach

Just a few minutes north of Venice (but a world away from its quirkiness), Santa Monica is where you might just spot a celebrity shopping or grabbing a cup of coffee. Offering a seemingly endless strip of sand, this pristine beach is perfect for a game of beach volleyball or soaking up that Cali sun. You’ll also love the landmark Santa Monica Pier, where you can go for a ride on a roller coaster, check out the aquarium’s resident sharks, or enjoy sunset views from atop the solar-powered ferris wheel. When the sun goes down, head over to Rusty’s for live music and tasty bites.

Best of the South Bay:

Manhattan Beach

With a picturesque pier, a wide stretch of sand, and surfers up with the sun, Manhattan is your quintessential SoCal beach town that has appeared in countless Hollywood films, including the cult classic “Point Break” in the scene where Keanu Reeves buys his surfboard. Manhattan is dotted with volleyball nets, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a professional tournament such as the Manhattan Beach Open, where winners are honored with a spot on the “Volleyball Walk of Fame”. Take some time to go for a stroll on the beachside sidewalk nicknamed The Strand, where you can gawk at the ultra-luxe oceanfront homes.

Hermosa Beach

From Manhattan, keep walking south on The Strand and you’ll eventually get to Hermosa Beach, the epitome of the laid-back, coastal California lifestyle. Hermosa has a young, causal vibe that revolves around Pier Plaza, an European-style pedestrian courtyard with tons of hipster cafes, dive bars, and locally-owned boutiques. The town comes to life for Fiesta Hermosa during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, when the streets are blocked off for an arts and crafts festival that inevitably turns into a town-wide party. Speaking of parties, Hermosa is home to some fab bars such as Sharkeez in Pier Plaza and the rooftop bar Abigail’s (formerly known as Oceanbar).

Best of Malibu:

Malibu Surfrider Beach

A Malibu icon and the birthplace of California surf culture, Surfrider Beach is exactly what you might picture when you think of Malibu. As its name suggests, Surfrider is an world-class surf spot popularized by 1950’s and 60’s surf movies, and is especially known for its long right hand break. The lineup can be a bit too crowded for beginners, but you don’t have to be Kelly Slater to enjoy this slice of Malibu heaven. The beach is nearly a mile of clean, sandy coastline, with some of the best views in Malibu, making it our go-to spot for a perfect day at the beach. Plus, if you work up an appetite in the sun, it’s only minutes away from Nobu Malibu.

El Matador Beach

We saved the best for last. Malibu’s most romantic beach, El Matador is where to bring a date you’re trying to impress. A rugged flight of stairs is the only access, but we promise the view is worth the trek. Stunning cliffs, interesting rock formations, and robust waves make it a popular site for professional photoshoots (and Instagrammers). The rocky coastline is full of dreamy nooks and coves, and at low tide you can even set up a picnic lunch or sunset dinner inside a hidden cave. Parking here is limited so you have to luck out, but on the plus side it keeps the crowds away!

Stay Golden, California: Off to Kuala Lumpur!

Stay Golden, California: Off to Kuala Lumpur!

“I can see the sun come up, time to get away from here, time to make a new plan up again.” – Rebelution

Two months ago I couldn’t even find Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on a map, and now here I am, packing up my entire life and getting ready to move 8,000 miles away to a place that could not be more foreign to me. Crazier still is that I am leaving a lifestyle that I have completely fallen in love with, a city that is widely considered to be one of the best places in the world to live, and a town where I live an outrageously comfortable life less than a mile away from the beach. I can understand the typical reaction (shock and doubt) when I tell people what I’m doing, but after living abroad in France for a semester in college and moving from Colorado to California a few years ago, I am familiar with just how much the unfamiliar pushes you to not only grow as a person, but also to have a better understanding of who you are and what you want out of life. Moving somewhere new and exposing myself to a different spectrum of people, attitudes, and values not only makes me see the world more clearly, but also myself more clearly- because experiencing life as an “outsider” puts a magnifying glass on everything I have become “used to”. Besides, the moment you stop living life outside your comfort zone is the moment you stop growing. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable per say, but stagnancy and complacency are everyone’s worst enemy. This is why I can’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for a cool company in a foreign country, no matter how happy I am in California.

So what do I want out of this experience? Some people go on sabbaticals or move to a foreign country because they feel unfulfilled in their current situation and are thirsty for some sort of spiritual awakening or journey to self-discovery (Eat, Pray, Love types). I am content with my life, and am not naive enough to expect this to be an uber life-changing experience where I’m going to come back a whole different person with some crazy new perspective of the world. I know these kinds of transformations are much more subtle than that. I also know that once I’m settled, my life in Malaysia will probably be pretty similar to the life I have here in Solana Beach, because I will still be the same person, just on a different continent. Through moving and traveling, I have learned that you cannot predict what you will end up learning, so I am going into this experience with zero expectations. I am ultimately just thankful that this opportunity came out of nowhere and that all the pieces fell into place so that Michael and I can do this together. It’s is the perfect chance to grow in my career and see places in the world that I could never have reached with my two weeks of corporate America vacation.

California has truly become my home, but I know it will be still be here when I’m ready to come back. In the mean time, I’m excited for the freedom that comes with moving somewhere new, even if it means being thrown out of my comfort zone and having to wing it for a little while. I recently read that some people possess a gene that makes them more drawn to trying new things and traveling to new places, the “wanderlust gene“, if you will. So maybe it’s just in my DNA to constantly be on the lookout for the next adventure, but my life mantra is: always be open to new experiences, never stop learning, and never get too comfortable.

Hasta, California. I’ll be dreaming about you.

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Secret San Diego: Mushroom Caves

Secret San Diego: Mushroom Caves

I’m trying to figure out how I have lived in North County San Diego for more than two years and have never been to the Mushroom Caves! This insanely awesome hike is less than five minutes from our house and took us less than an hour to complete. I’m not sure if the caves get their name from their fungi-like appearance, or the drug of choice for all the highschoolers who party here (who are probably also the ones responsible for the huge amount of graffiti, but hey, that’s kind of what gives the caves their charm). We got to the top of the caves just in time for the stunning sunset over Cardiff, what I personally believe to be the most gorgeous area in all of San Diego.

How to Get to the Mushroom Caves:
The Mushroom Caves can be accessed by exiting the 5 East on Manchester. Just look for the trail head on the north side of the road before you get to MiraCosta college (where you can park). Walk through the trail, underneath the freeway, and alongside the lagoon. The caves are just before you are forced to walk directly west towards Seaside. You should see them situated up on the hill situated, but if you can’t find them right away just wander around a bit until you do.

**When we were trying to find directions to the caves, I noticed a lot of bloggers took down their directions due to all the litter, carving, and overall destruction of nature by disrespectful people. So please, don’t be “that guy” and keep this place beautiful.**

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Woogie Weekend

Woogie Weekend

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Woogie Weekend was by far one of my favorite music festivals I have EVER been to. Normally I’m a little apprehensive about attending debut festivals, as this typically means the event organizers don’t have all the “kinks” worked out yet, but The Do LaB used to throw their signature event Lightning in a Bottle at this very venue, Oak Canyon Park in Orange County, before the festival outgrew it, so I had a feeling they knew what they were doing. Plus, it was only an hour away and tickets were less than $130 for a 3-day pass so you can’t really say no to that!

We got to the venue on Friday evening and I was immediately thrown by the event’s laid-back logistics. In a time where hyper-security, wristbands, and strict rules are the norm at music festival (which ironically are supposed to be about freedom), it was refreshing to feel like I was actually part of a community, not a herd of cattle with security monitoring my every move. Woogie Weekend had all the vibes a festival should have without the pretentiousness you normally find at big events like Coachella, EDC, or Hard- everyone was just there to have a good time and BOOGIE (isn’t that what music festivals are for?). I’m a dnb head, and there weren’t very many artists I cared about seeing at the show, which I think actually made it more fun because I had the freedom to romp around, champagne bottle in hand, without being tied to set times. With no shortage of deep house beats, production and entertainment definitely lived up to what you’d expect from The Do LaB – three stages, a slip n slide, and camp dance parties until dawn. Of course, it wouldn’t be a “hippie fest” without morning yoga sesh’s, acai bowl stands, and trippy art installations. If you’ve heard anything about Woogie Weekend, you probably heard about the rain. Luckily(?) we were one of the few people there who actually had work on Monday so we had to cut out a day early and missed all the flooding.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Woogie Weekend that will become an annual event for me. To The Do LaB: well done!

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