Best Orange County Beaches

Thousand Steps Beach    PC: Rachel R. Thomas

It’s no secret that Orange County beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. Whether you prefer surfing and hiking, people-watching, sunbathing or swimming, find your favorite beach with our guide to some of the best beaches in Orange County.

Aliso Creek County Beach
A steep shore creates powerful waves perfect for surfing. From sunbathing, swimming and surfing to paddle boarding and castle building, this beach is perfect for the whole family. Explore the tidepool (look but don’t touch) for a cool glimpse of marine life. There is even a tot lot for children and a concession stand offering food and beverages. Concession: weekends 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Pay and display parking $1/hour. 31131 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., 
Laguna Beach, 949.923.2280.

Balboa Beach
A pristine sunning and swimming beach with all amenities and metered parking. This beach is surrounded by fun and casual places to eat like Cabo Cantina and Cruisers Pizza Bar Grill. Visit the Balboa Fun Zone, where the ferris wheel has stood for more than 80 years and take a ride on the world famous Balboa Island Ferry. Located along Balboa Blvd. at Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, 949.673.3371.

Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove offers more than just 3.2 miles of beautiful beach! Enjoy hiking and mountain biking trails, sandy coves and steep cliffs. Check out the historic district with beach cottages and Beachcomber café. Explore the incredible tidepools while you’re there. Located on East Coast Hwy., between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar, 949.494.3539.

The Wedge

Huntington City Beach
Home of the annual U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington City Beach offers more than remarkable waves and wide, sandy beaches. Stroll down the Huntington Beach pier or shop along Main Street. Plan a bonfire at the fire pits (but arrive early to reserve) and play a game of volleyball at the volleyball courts on the sand. Beachside restaurants include Ruby’s Diner (at the end of the pier), Duke’s and Sandy’s, all with incredible panoramic views perfect for dinner during sunset. Located along Pacific Coast Hwy., between Beach Blvd. and Main Street, Huntington Beach, 714.536.5281.

Laguna Main Beach
This gorgeous beach is located in the heart of Laguna, walking distance to several boutique-style shops and restaurants. The best known landmark on this beach is the white lifeguard tower located in the middle of the beach and the basketball courts on the north end. Stroll down the boardwalk and enjoy beautiful views and people watching. It’s perfect for swimmers, bodyboarders, and body surfers, however, surfing is not permitted on Main Beach during the summer months (during summer surf can be large and dangerous with numerous rip currents and heavy shore break waves). Located in the middle of the town where Broadway and Ocean Avenues intersect Coast Hwy., 949. 497.3311.

San Clemente State Beach
A popular mile-long beach set below sandstone bluffs offers all amenities, a nature trail and a butterfly trail! Perfect for those seeking an easy hike with beautiful scenery. Fee for Parking. 225 Avenida Califia, San Clemente, 949.492.3156.

Thousand Steps Beach
Approximately 230 concrete steps on a steep, vine-covered, tree-canopied staircase lead to a small beach at the base of a cliff.  See incredible views and watch spectacular waves crash against the rocks. Perfect for sunbathing, surfing and volleyball. Free street parking. Located at Ninth Ave., and South Coast Hwy., South Laguna, 714.834.2400.

The Wedge
Featuring potential 30-feet waves, its no wonder The Wedge is a world-renowned body surfing and body-boarding spot. A place like this is meant to be admired over engaged because the break is dangerous; watch unless you’re an expert. Ideal spot to watch the sunset. West Jetty View Park, located at the tip of Balboa Peninsula, end of Channel Road, Newport Beach, 949.644.3309.


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