Perhaps one of our most special beaches is the aptly named Paradise Cove (the only public stretch of sand that you can sip a cocktail on!). The hefty parking fee helps keep crowds to a minimum, so you can treat yourself to a perfect sunny day at this pristine Malibu inlet. Feeling the heat wave a little too hard? Throw down for a private cabana for you and your pals, where you can keep your Coronas cold 'til the sun sinks down way past the Western horizon.
28128 Pacific Coast Highway (near Paradise Cove Road); 310-457-2503.
Malibu Country Mart
Sometimes all that surf and sand makes us a little hungry for ... shopping. Okay, not a lot doesn't make us want to spend, but we're still thrilled to find ourselves coincidentally near the Country Mart after a few hours of sun-worshiping. With every boutique we could ever hope for (Planet Blue, Missoni, Intermix, and Maxfield, to name a few!), plus the best alfresco-dining options around — we have to force ourselves to head Southeast back to reality after a long day of this bliss.
3835 Cross Creek Road (at Pacific Coast Highway); 310-456-7300.
Santa Monica Pier Twilight Series
Think the beach is just for bumming around? That's not the case with the Twilight Series at the Santa Monica Pier! This musical tradition is in its 28th season and still going strong. Upcoming shows feature a diverse lineup of artists like Alex Cuba, Hot 8 Brass Band, and Best Coast. Get your tickets now!
200 Santa Monica Pier Suite A (off Ocean Avenue); 310-458-8901.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
Looking for some wild Cali-style urban-beach vibes? It doesn’t get more verité than this boardwalk. You’ll find body builders, break dancers, and hair braiders, and so much more, all just within a few short miles along the Pacific Coast. We recommend renting a bike to take it all in while casually cruising! And, keep your eyes peeled for local favorite Harry Perry, the turban-wearing electric guitarist on skates. Make sure to carry a few singles to tip him for a live performance!
1800 Ocean Front Walk (near 18th Avenue).
There's something about hopping on a boat that makes you feel like you've truly escaped it all, and we recommend you jump on the Catalina Express! This high-speed fleet will have you sailing across the waves of the Pacific and arriving at the port of Avalon in the time it takes you to set up an out-of-office message. Once there, hit up the Catalina Island Conservancy for the lowdown on the island's best hikes. And once you've gotten in some good uphill climbs, cool off with a few scoops from one of the town's many delicious old-fashioned ice-cream and candy parlors, tout de suite!
320 Golden Shore (near West Shoreline Drive); 800-481-3470.
Photos: Via Catalina Express; Paradise Cove; The Santa Monica Pier