Soak up the sun alongside surfers and celebs in this seaside community.
With roughly 20 miles of coastline within its city limits, Malibu has long been popular with celebrities, but you don’t need to have played a starring role in a Hollywood hit to enjoy this coastal community. Malibu is home to some great beaches, from El Matador State Beach—known for its sea caves—to Zuma Beach, popular with surfers. Point Dume State Beach offers fantastic ocean views and is a great place for rock climbing. If you want to make a night of it, you’ll find plenty of parks offering camping in the area, including Leo Carrillo State Park and Malibu Creek State Park.
Stretching all the way to the border with Mexico, this expanse offers the quintessential California beach experience, with surfing, sunbathing, and plenty of sunshine. While most beaches here are only for day use, a few do offer camping, including San Elijo State Beach in Encinitas and Silver Strand State Beach, just south of San Diego.
Up the coast from Malibu, California's Central Coast offers miles of gorgeous coastlines, without the SoCal crowds. Here you'll find sandy summertime favorites such as Avila Beach and Morro Bay Strand as well as dramatic, cliff-lined stretches—including the famously picturesque Big Sur.
If you need a bit of respite from the Southern California heat, consider heading inland to the San Bernardino Mountains, the largest forested area in this part of the state. This pretty area is characterized by a mix of deciduous and evergreen forests and offers plenty of great camping opportunities, particularly in the Big Bear Lake area.
Malibu is a year-round destination, with each season offering its own unique perks. Summer is the obvious choice, with hot weather and long sunny days, though overcast days early in the season are to be expected. Spring and fall both offer warm weather with fewer crowds, and autumn swells keep Malibu's beaches popular with surfers. If you visit in the wintertime, make sure to bring binoculars—gray whales are known to migrate through the waters off of Malibu from December until April.