California Beaches


California Beach Holidays

California Beaches Holiday Information

Love the beach, hate the crowds? or Love the beach, love the crowds? This photo was taken at Huntington Beach last summer. Special event days where you can expect crowds include 4th of July, US Open of Surfing (July-August) and Labor Day Weekend.


  • Paid parking will sell out & beach parking lots will be full early in the day. Go very early (7-9 am-ish), park in perimeter areas and take public transport; pack bikes with locks and park further away, then ride to the beach on a bicycle; walk the distance wearing a good pair of comfortable walking shoes.
  • Be prepared to change meet-up locations. Sometimes the crowds will shock you, and you may need to pick meet-up spots that offer easier visibility or access.
  • If you want amenities such as free bonfire pits, stake out very early. Beaches open between 5 and 6 a.m. in most cities and believe it or not, beach-goers are staking out their spots that early!
  • Expect highway robbery! Some private owners may offer parking for $25-50. And people will pay it! Cities jack up parking prices, too, on special events days!
  • Plan for the long day. Take sunblock, clothing for coverage, shade items, money, water and food if the beach is more remote. Take beach shoes. Sand can burn your feet and on some beaches there may be hidden dangers such as broken glass (glass is prohibited on most beaches.)
  • Have emergency plans--riots, accidents, injuries and allergies are unexpected things to think about.
  • Plan to spend time getting out. It can take up to two hours to leave a beach area after a 4th of July fireworks show. Have patience--and gas in the car!
  • Keep your cool. People have short fuses, even on the 4th of July. Don't fight over parking--let it go. Don't argue or get into disagreements. Remember that life is a beach!
  • For specific beach information, visit government websites such as

There's a saying that when things get tough, go to the beach . Why? It's free, relaxing and removes you from your every day concerns such as jobs and paying the bills. Free public beaches for all to access is our California legacy that many places don't enjoy.

In the United States this 4th of July you'll find beaches in Texas, Florida and even Hawaii where the signs say "Keep Out" or "Members Only". You won't see much of that in California, thanks to the 1972 Proposition 20, a California voter-approved California Coastal Commission Initiative. It called for assignment of a politically appointed body to fairly protect and preserve California's coastline for all to enjoy.

California's coast runs roughly north to south approx. 1,000 miles. Others measure its length at 1,100 miles, and if you drive on I-5 which runs parallel to the coast you can get between the California-Mexico border and California-Oregon border in 783 miles on a trip that might take around 13 hours. Whatever the length, this precious beach is owned by its citizens, stewards who are passionate about free public beach access. When the state legislature passed the California Coastal Act making the proposition permanent in 1976, a sense of public trust was created. To Californians, there's an expectation that all beaches should be open and accessible to the public.

MOST CROWDED BEACHES - Southern California between San Diego County and Los Angeles County
LEAST CROWDED BEACHES - Northern California between Sonoma County and Del Norte County
BEACH FIREWORKS SHOWS - Counties: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte

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