Best for SurfingLocals love Zuma Beach north of Malibu for its good waves and clean water. You'll find lots of surfing buddies in Manhattan Beach
Best for People-WatchingVenice Beach Los Angeles' quirkiest beach can be its most interesting, attracting a cast of characters fit for any Hollywood movie
Best for WalkingThe long, paved walking path with Santa Monica Bay views makes Manhattan Beach our favorite place to take a walk
Best for the Beach ExperienceParadise Cove is a small, private beach that offers a charming, old-fashioned beach experience and a beachside restaurant
Best for Beach VolleyballManhattan Beach is the birthplace of beach volleyball and home of the world's first beach volleyball tournament. Up toward Malibu, Will Rogers State Park is often less crowded.
Best for a BonfireDockweiler Beach is the only Los Angeles beach where you can have bonfire.
Best for Tide PoolsLeo Carrillo State Park and Malibu Lagoon State Beach - both in Malibu - and Abalone Cove in Palos Verdes offer great tide pools to check out at low tide.
Best for Romantic WalksA secluded, little pocket beach north of Malibu, El Matador Beach is a great place to watch the sunset with your sweetie
Best for FamiliesRedondo Beach offers lots of sand to play on, a pier full of amusements and a long, paved path for biking or skating making it a place you can take the kids to and let them run until they're exhausted
Best for AmusementsSanta Monica Beach is home of a lively amusement park on the pier and summer concerts
Best for Ocean SwimmingSwimming in the ocean at a Los Angeles beach is a chilly dip any time of year. Water temperatures vary from 60°F in winter to 68°F in August, the warmest month. If you're determined to give it a try, The Nature Conservancy gave Will Rogers State Beach an "Ocean Oscar"in 2010 as the best California beach for ocean swimming, saying it's "one of the nicest beaches in California to take a dip in the ocean and bask in sunshine on a beach towel."
The Los Angeles Times rates Zuma Beach north of Malibu as a good place for swimmers, saying "frequent visitors are no longer surprised to find themselves swimming among dolphins" - and a quick search on YouTube will yield lots of videos to back them up.