As winter finally arrives, you may get a little envious of your friends’ snow day Instagram pics, but in LA we’ve got something even better: the beach. Who needs snow to go sledding when we’ve got perfectly good sandy slopes along our glittering coastline? No scarves or jackets needed.
Every year just after Thanksgiving, L.A.’s beaches get a makeover as sand berms are added to guard against storms and flooding. But they’ve got another, much more awesome purpose: they create the perfect place to go sand sledding. Stop in at your local sporting goods store for a plastic saucer, use a cut up cardboard box or go true beach-style with your boogie boards, as you hit the slopes at one of these perfect sand sledding spots.
Just south of the Venice Beach Pier is one of the most popular sand sledding spots on the coast. The Venice berm stretches from the pier all along the length of the south parking lot, so despite being a hotspot, there’s always plenty of room for everyone. These slopes are usually the biggest of the berms on the coast, making them the go-to spot for young sledders (and grown-ups) looking for the best thrill ride. Late December or early January is usually the best time to visit, as the sand has gotten packed down, making for a smoother and faster ride.
Parking in the lot can run from $8-$12 on the weekends, depending on how busy it gets. You can also sometimes get lucky and find a spot on Washington Boulevard, but then it’s a bit of a walk, lugging sleds on top of the usual beach gear. Public restrooms are available next to the pier.
Afterwards, head to The Cow’s End Cafe for a sweet treat. As long as your swapping out sand for snow, skip the hot drinks and order a round of their famous smoothies or ice blended drinks (sans coffee for the little ones).
Find it: Washington Blvd & Oceanfront Walk, Venice
The Hermosa Beach sand berms stretch out from both sides of the Hermosa Pier providing plenty of ocean-front real estate for your little sand bunnies. These hills are a little less steep making them the best spot for the youngest (or most cautious) sledders.
The closest places to park are the two public metered lots on Hermosa Avenue at 11th and 13th Street. Public restrooms are available on the pier. After sledding, take a stroll along the pier and enjoy the view, do some window shopping at the Pier Plaza or grab a bite at Good Stuff, which boasts one of the best kid’s menus on the Strand (or frankly, anywhere in town).
Find it: 1 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
photo: Shanna R. via Yelp
Up the coast in Malibu, Zuma always makes for a beautiful beach day, whether you’re crashing in the waves or sledding in the sand. It is a bit more of a trek, so you may want to pack up a picnic along with your sleds and make a day of it. The berms at Zuma are long and much less trafficked than Venice and Hermosa, which also means they aren’t as smooth and slick. For a better ride, have the grownups in the group take a few trips down the slope first, to carve out a nice pathway for the little ones. (Yep, it’s a perfect excuse to get a turn on the new sled!)
Zuma isn’t as busy in the winter, so you should have no trouble grabbing a parking spot in the lot directly behind the sand dunes for $8. Public restrooms are located along the beach. The food stands aren’t typically open in the winter season, so if you want to grab a bite on your way back home stop in at the newly renovated Trancas Country Mart on PCH for several great options all in one spot.
Find it: 30000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
What are your favorite places to go sand sledding? Share any secret spots we missed in the comments!