As I’m currently living in Costa Rica you may think I’d dedicate some of my blog space to raving about the beaches I’ve discovered here. While its true Costa Rica is home to some stunning playas, I have to be honest and say that, in my opinion, when it comes to beaches, as with highways, iced coffee and the sun to rain ratio, California just does it better.
True, perhaps I am biased given my affiliation to the Golden State, but growing up in the Bay Area spoiled me with the vast number of beaches within driving distance from my family’s house in San Jose. The state has more than 840 miles of coastline after all!
While I hail from NorCal, my brother Sean is studying engineering at USC. Visiting him has given me the opportunity to overturn my long-standing SoCal biases and take in the nature, history and cultural excitement that the Los Angeles area has to offer.
On my most recent visit, I got to experience the sights around my brother’s newest zip code through the windows of the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage. The Mirage is a sub-compact vehicle. The five-door hatchback is small enough that city driving and parallel parking are a breeze, but large enough to fit five passengers. If you want to know more about this vehicle, you can check out my full review here.
And of course, given that it was summer and the area was flooded with sunshine, my favorite places to visit were the beaches! Let’s take a look at my picks for the top beaches around Los Angeles to drive to in the Mitsubishi Mirage.
Top 5 Southern California Beaches
My favorite beach destination in the Los Angeles area is hands-down Malibu. The famed Pacific Coast Highway cuts through this affluent beach city which is also home to a 21-mile strip of shoreline. There are several different beaches in Malibu. My favorite is Zuma Beach. The largest beach in LA county, Zuma is great for strolling, whereas the nearby Surfrider is great for checking out some of the area’s best surfers.
Malibu is also known for being home to many of Hollywood’s elite including Robert Redford, Halle Berry, Ellen DeGeneres and Caitlyn Jenner. While cruising in the Mitsubishi Mirage near Malibu in Pacific Palisades my family and I even pulled up next to Robin Thicke at a red light. You never know who you might run into when in Malibu! (My apologies for the poor photo quality. I was so star struck that my photography skills went out the window. But it’s him, I swear!)
2. Santa Monica
For shopping next to the beach, my choice is Santa Monica. The Third Street Promenade is just a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean and bustling with a variety of shops, restaurants and street performers. The weekly farmer’s market here is the oldest and the largest in the state of California. In downtown Santa Monica there are more than 30 blocks of shopping total. Can you say shop ‘til you drop?
The Santa Monica Pier is home to more shopping, dining and a roller coaster and Ferris wheel at Pacific Pier. The pier also happens to be one of my favorite places to catch sunset. Below the pier, the beach stretches for three miles.
3. Venice Beach
Venice beach is all about being original (just like the sapphire blue color of the Mitsubishi Mirage). With a circus-like atmosphere, Venice is all at once home to street performers, skateboarders, body builders, surfers, families and an eclectic mix of locals and tourists.
The street performers are seriously out of this world. On my visit I got to catch a performance by the Calypso Tumbers, a talent group of acrobats and dancers from around the world. Founded by two men from the Caribbean, the group has been performing since 1992. Their show includes a great message about acceptance.
Another must-see in Venice Beach is the Venice Skate Park. Skateboarding was started in Los Angeles as a means for surfers to train in the off season. The sport’s popularity may be waning elsewhere, but today in Venice, skateboarding is still very much part of the culture. At this park you can watch talented local youths practice their skills in the sunken pool, ledges and rails here with the beautiful blue of the ocean as your back drop.
4. Crystal Cove State Park
For a calm and relaxing day at the beach, Crystal Cove State Park is my beach of choice. This tranquil 3.2-mile stretch of beach in Orange County also includes 2,400 acres of woodland for hiking. The beach here has tide pools to explore the local sealife and the clear water often hosts scuba divers. Crystal Cove State Park has a low-key atmosphere which I appreciate for when I’m in the mood to sunbathe and read.
The Beachcomber Café on sight retains the historical scale and ambiance of a 1930’s beach restaurant (and their burgers are delish). Eating here feels like stepping back in time to some of the first films that featured California’s beaches onscreen. The film Treasure Island (1950) was even shot nearby!
5. Rivers of America
Ok, so the Rivers of America, located at Disneyland, isn’t technically a beach, but there is sand on Tom Sawyer’s Island which sits in the middle of this magical body of water. No trip to Southern California can be complete in my books without visiting the Happiest Place on Earth!
Disneyland is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary with a Diamond Celebration that includes a Disneyland Forever nighttime fireworks spectacular, Paint the Night parade and special diamond decorations and theming. Sleeping Beauty Castle has even been frosted with sparkles to commemorate the anniversary!
To return to the topic of beaches, Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park is also home to Paradise Pier which pays homage to the romance and excitement of classic seaside amusement piers found throughout the United States.
Which Southern California beach would you most like to discover in the Mitsubishi Mirage? Let me know in the comments below!
Note: This post was brought to you by Mitsubishi. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.