Boogie board or bike around this spot for seaside relaxation at its finest. The great thing is that it's usually pretty uncrowded because of its mum's-the-word cliffside vibe, but we recommend packing your hiking boots in addition to the ol' flops because the tide can get intense and expose rocks.
South Carlsbad State Beach, 7201 Carlsbad Boulevard (at Tamarack Avenue), Carlsbad; 760-438-3143.
Laguna has so many gems worth the 405 drive, but this sandy retreat is nothing short of majestic. Scuba divers, bikers, hikers, and first-time campers can enjoy the 3.2 miles of beach, at-sea state-deemed underwater park, and undeveloped woodlands. A backdrop for many a Vogue shoot, you better get your camping dance card in early (we're talking years in advance, folks!) for the bygone-era glam cottages dotting the beach.
Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 North Coast Highway (near Newport Coast Drive), Laguna Beach; 949-494-3539.
Photo: Via Visit Carlsbad Facebook.