7 of the Best Beaches in Los Angeles to Enjoy a Socially Distant Picnic

As I mentioned in my previous post about “9 of the Best Locations in Los Angeles to Enjoy a Socially Distant Picnic,” on average, there are 284 sunny days per year in Los Angeles — which is about 80 more than the overall average number of sunny days in the United States.

This means that chances are, no matter what time of year it is, when the time is right and it’s safe to travel, you’ll most likely be able to hit the sand with some takeout from a locally owned restaurant or a packed picnic and soak in some California Vitamin D. There’s no shortage of fantastic beaches along the Greater LA coast — but here are seven of my favorite places to dine “al fresco” on the sand, below listed from north LA county to south LA county.

[Note: As of winter 2020, socially distant outdoor activities are currently permitted in Los Angeles County, but as always, be safe and smart about your activities outside of the house. Protect yourself and others from transmitting COVID-19. Remember to wear a mask, stay six feet from other people at all times, and be respectful of local regulations.

Some of these photos were taken over the last couple years in LA pre-COVID which is why I’m not masked-up in all of them…]

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu

Wikipedia

Located in Malibu approximately 28 miles north of Santa Monica via the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches out for more than a mile. It’s dotted with sea caves, tidepools, picnic areas, campsites, RV facilities, and some great hiking trails to explore before picnicking so you can feel like you’ve earned your Malibu Farm takeaway lobster mac n cheese…

Zuma Beach, Malibu

Zuam Beach in Malibu spans more than 1.8 miles of sand in north LA County, stretching across 105 acres (and offering 2,000 parking spaces). This iconic LA/Malibu beach offers plenty of space to set up a picnic with takeout from a local favorite such as D’Amore’s Pizza or freshly packed provisions.

Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica

Located just north of the historic Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most well-known beaches in LA. It’s featured in countless movies and television shows, and offers incomparable views of the Santa Monica pier and incredible walkability to nearby downtown Santa Monica’s many shops and restaurants of the Third Street Promenade to shop small and support local. The two miles of sand at Santa Monica Beach feels endless and offers plenty of space.

Venice Beach, Venice

Venice Beach is a lively and entertaining place to spend an afternoon both picnicking and people watching. I once saw a dude on a bike with a boa constrictor around his neck just pedaling along like he was jogging with his pet dog at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. You’ll never be bored. Plus, there are plenty of picnic-worthy takeaway options both directly on the boardwalk and just off the beach on nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Check out Felix Trattoria for fantastic Italian fare, The Butcher’s Daughter for health-conscious vegetarian far on Abbot Kinney, or on the boardwalk there’s The Sidewalk Cafe serving hearty American choices like burgers and ribs.

Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach was actually mainly a resort town up until the 1920’s, with most people attracted to the area during the summer — but that changed when people came to their senses and realized this two miles of ocean frontage offering 94 acres of public beach (and Hermosa Pier) is somewhere that’s worthy of spending more than just a winter — it’s worthy of a a lifetime. Popular favorites by the sand include SAOR Italian Food if you’re craving authentic pasta and lasagna, or Tower 12 if you’re looking for the best cocktails to go.

Manhattan Beach

This two-mile long wide sandy flat beach is anchored by a beautiful pier and main street with plenty of local shops and restaurants offering takeout and to-go orders. From classic American at The Rockefeller or freshly caught fish fare at Fishing With Dynamite paired with a finely crafted cocktail pier adjacent, at The Strand House — the hardest decision you’ll have to make after choosing what food to grab is what side of the pier to plant your picnic blanket get the best view for watching the local surfers shred the waves.

Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro

@CaliforniaBeaches

This beach is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer who was the first to sail up the California coast. The “beach” is actually two different beaches: there’s one section outside the breakwater within the ocean surf, and another within the harbor, which is more gentle and quiet. 

The sandy stretch of land is situated below a cliff facing the Newport Beach jetty, with fire fits are found adjacent to the outer beach on the “Pacific Side” or “Hill Side” of the beach. Nearby favorites to grab takeout for a beach picnic include Whiskey Flats BBQ or the classic Lighthouse Cafe.

Do you have any recommendations for enjoyable picnicking spots in the Greater Los Angeles area? Reach out, and let me know at hellomollyannobrien@gmail.com!

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