One of the perks of living in LA? We can visit the beach pretty much year-round. But what if you want to enjoy some sun, surf and sand while avoiding the crowds? From Malibu to Long Beach, here are six off-the-beaten path beaches to visit with kids.

Westward Beach

Located on the southern portion of Point Dume Beach in Malibu, this lovely stretch of sand is both private and picturesque. While you might recognize it as a backdrop in Iron Man, the large cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for your family’s beach day. Hike up the Point Dume path and you may catch a glimpse of body surfing dolphins or climbers repelling the rocky cliff.

If you are looking for your own little adventure, there's a hidden sandy spot behind the southern rock wall called Pirates Cove Beach. The easiest way to access it is to time it with low tide and walk around the rock wall, otherwise you'll have to scramble over the rocks to access this secret spot. 

Tip for little swimmers: This north-facing beach’s surf breaks shallow and close to shore so make sure to keep an extra eye on beginning swimmers at the water’s edge.

Westward Beach Rd.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov

El Matador Beach

Located within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Park, kids can explore sea caves, tunnels and more rock formations. While not exactly a super secret (the Instagram crowd has definitely caught on to this photogenic spot), this beach is certainly less crowded than tourist hotspots like Santa Monica. Be prepared to trek down some steep stairs to make it to the sand, so this location is probably better for older kids who can manage the steps. There is a fee to park in the lot or limited free parking on PCH.

Insider Tip: Check the tide levels before you go—during high tide, the water covers most of the beach, so you'll want to go when the tide's low.

32215 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov

Leo Carrillo State Park

Here you'll find plenty of sand to spread out without the crowds but you'll also find tidepools and sea caves for kids to play in. Added bonus: If you’ve got a pup, then head up to North Beach (north of lifeguard tower 3)—one of the few beaches in the county where you won’t have to leave your four-legged friend behind, just don’t forget the leash. You can even spend the night here! Make a reservation at one of the campgrounds available along the beach (check the website as things tend to change quickly). 

Sticking with a day trip but don't think you'll spend all day on the sand? Here are some of our favorite fun things Malibu has to offer. 

35000 West Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu
Online: parks.ca.gov/

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

Tucked at the end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park offers two beaches (Abalone Cove & Sacred Cove), a State Ecological Preserve, tide pools, hiking trails and gorgeous views of Catalina Island on clear days. The hike down is easy but the hike back up can be a work out so plan to leave the beach just before the kids are all tuckered out—otherwise you might be carrying them. The beaches are rocky so bring water shoes. 

Insider Tip: Go during low tide to maximize tide pool exploration. Pay attention to the signs as some parts of the peninsula has been closed due to falling rocks.

5970 Palos Verdes Dr. South
Rancho Palos Verdes
Online: rpvca.gov

Bay Shore Beach

Not necessarily a secret but for some guaranteed calm, toddler-friendly waters and soft, sandy beaches that are certainly less crowded than Venice Beach on a hot day, head farther south to Bay Shore Beach. you can probably. This is the spot for parents who are nervous by big waves but still provides a lot of amenities like a swim dock, a playground, aconcession stand, paddle board rentals, plus public restrooms and showers. There is also free street parking on Bay Shore Drive.

Insider Tip: Check out these fun things to do with kids in Long Beach if you have a few more hours to spend post-beach hang.

5415 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach
Online: longbeach.gov

Worth the Drive

Hollywood Beach - Oxnard, CA

About an hour north of Los Angeles, you'll find the sprawling, often nearly empty Hollywood Beach. Escape for the day to enjoy free parking, volleyball courts, plus plenty of space for kite flying and a long stretch of shore, perfect for little ones who love splashing in the waves. Not to mention, gorgeous views of the Channel Islands—you might even see whales migrating!

Insider Tip: Ventura County is great, family-friendly destination. To extend your day trip, check out what to do with kids in Ventura

Harbor Blvd. in Channel Islands Harbor
Oxnard
Online: visitoxnard.com

feature image courtesy of Anne A. via Yelp

–Kate Felton, Meghan Rose & Christina Montoya Fiedler

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