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

This lovely stretch of sand is private and picturesque. Often used for filming (you might recognize it in everything from Planet of the Apes to 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.

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

Kids can explore sea caves, tunnels and more rock formations at this off-the-beaten-path beach. You'll have 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

Not only is this beach far from the crowds, you'll also find tidepools and sea caves for kids to play in. Added bonus: And if you’ve got a pup, the north beach here is 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.

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 and Sacred Cove), a State Ecological Preserve, tide pools, hiking trails and more.

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

Bay Shore Beach

If you’re looking for some solitude, try heading farther south down the peninsula where you can probably score a stretch of sand all to yourselves. Just a reminder, there is no surf on the Bayside beaches, so if you have a kiddo who wants to hang ten on the boogie boards, this is not the spot for you. They are, however, perfect for toddlers, beginning swimmers, and parents who are made nervous by big waves. There is free parking on Bay Shore Drive.

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

Worth the Drive

photo: Shannan Rouss

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 and volleyball courts, plenty of space for kite flying and a long stretch of shore, perfect for little ones who love splashing in the waves. 

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

–Kate Felton, Meghan Rose & Christina Montoya Fiedler

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