As a parent of young children, I have become a fan of the daycation. In other words, I try to travel an hour or so to somewhere with beautiful scenery, delicious food and fun activities. Living close to the Southern California coast for my entire life, I have grown to love the beach. Here are three great day trips in Southern California.
Los Angeles County: Malibu
Malibu is one of my favorite L.A. beach destinations. Along with having great beaches, there are plenty of delicious restaurants and upscale shops. Before heading to the beach and getting sandy, you might want to visit The Getty Villa (Admission is free but you must get timed-entry tickets; Parking is $15). If you like to explore, you should definitely check out Leo Carillo State Beach. Before going, check to make sure the tide is low. The last time I was there, there were amazing, giant purple starfish, crabs and plenty of sea urchins. Not too far away is El Matador State beach. This beach has some amazing caves, tidepools, crags and views. In order to access this beach, you have to venture on a downhill hike. Thus, wear good shoes, keep your beach gear in a backpack and be careful with the kiddos. As for both of these beaches, bring some snacks and money for parking. When you get hungry, take a scenic drive south for about 20 minutes to Duke’s Malibu or the Marmalade Cafe. Duke’s has delicious fish and Marmalade serves up a yummy breakfast, sandwiches and to-die-for desserts. Or, grab some food to go and head up to Malibu Bluffs Park for some recreation time.
Ventura County: C-Street
Some may not, but I still consider Ventura a SoCal destination. The best thing about Ventura is that the beaches aren’t quite as crowded in the summer as many of the beaches further south. Start your day at Ventura Harbor Village. Grab some coffee at the Coffee Dock & Post or lunch at Andria’s Seafood Restaurant & Market. Kids might enjoy the arcade and carousel. There are also boat rentals and whale watching services available. When you have exhausted Harbor Village, you should head to one of many beautiful beaches. I wrote about several family-friendly Ventura beaches here. A great scenic boardwalk/bike/walking path goes for miles and connects a lot of the beaches. Along the way, you can pass the Ventura pier or go surfing at Surfer’s Point/C-Street.
San Diego County: Coronado
In my opinion, Coronado is one of the most beautiful communities in San Diego. Having gone to college in San Diego, I spent a lot of time here. Start off your day at the Coronado Ferry Landing with a fun bike or surrey ride. If you don’t have your own, go to Bikes and Beyond to rent one. There are miles of bike pathways that wind along the San Diego Bay. After working up an appetite, try one of the restaurants with waterfront views. My favorite place is Peohe’s. Go for lunch and the prices are much less expensive than dinner. When in Coronado, you should visit Coronado Central Beach. This beach is huge with lovely white sand. If you have pooches, head to North Beach where dogs can frolic in the waves leash-free.
A daycation may not involve relaxing at a hotel. However, day trips are great way to have fun and travel on a budget. Although I have lived in Southern California my entire life, I continue to find beautiful new beaches and places to explore.
More from Melissa:
Luxury Beach Hotels in Southern California
Vacationing Along the Southern California Coast in the Winter: Tips From a SoCal Resident
Favorite, Family-Friendly Beaches in Ventura