10 Best Beach Towns In California to Visit & to Live in 2023

California is best known for its quintessential beaches in the world. Over 800 seabeaches are there in California. People from different parts of the world come to this place for its sun-soaked wide beaches and natural beauty. Around these beaches, you will get some of the best beach towns in California like Laguna, Capitola, Avila Beach, and many others. These beach towns are not only good for roaming around but these beach cities have the best lifestyle.

So if you have any plan to move to these California cities then it would be a nice choice we must say. These California beach towns are famous for their tourism, hospitality and economic growth. From education to economic infrastructures everything in California attracts thousands of people from the neighborhoods.

Best Beach Towns In California

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If you’re planning to move to California but don’t know where to begin then you must know about the best beach towns in California. We are sharing our ideas in this article so that you will get to see the hidden gems of these beautiful beach towns.

These are some of the best beach towns in California and we have shared all the information that you may need to explore.

1. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is located between Los Angeles and San Diego. This place is known as the art heaven in Orange County. You will get to see incredible art galleries and murals on each corner of the streets. Travel enthusiasts may find this place attractive because of its tourist-friendly behavior and hospitality.

Laguna Beach is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places to live in. If you’re finding a place in California to move to after retirement then Laguna beach must be there in your mind. The population of this beautiful town is only 22515 and the crime rate per person is 21.67 (per 1000 residents).

If you’re planning to move to the Laguna Beach area then you don’t have to worry about the schooling of your children. This place offers a world-class educational infrastructure. So your children can grow their careers in this beautiful town quickly.

This is pretty much expensive to live in the Laguna Beach area as the cost of living is 349.8whereas the national cost of living average is 100. This town comes among the top 10 most expensive towns to live in California. The median household income in this region is $128,099 which is pretty good to survive. The only cons we have found is its expensive lifestyle.

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

Things to do in Laguna Beach

  • If you’re new to Laguna beach and looking for the best open space to walk in go to Crystal Cove State Park. You will get an open panoramic view of this park.
  • Are you looking for a place from where you can start exploring Laguna beach then Heisler Park is one of the best places to start at? You will see Lawn bowling clubs where you can have fun.
  • Visit Heisler Park for the best sea beach view of Laguna beach. Here you can take a part in various water sports.
  • Ride a trolley service in the open air. This trolley service remains open throughout the year.
  • One of the best things you must take part in is First Thursday’s Artwork. In this art walk, you will get to see the local art culture closely.

2. Capitola

Situated in Santa Cruz County on the coast of Monterey Bay, Capitola is a picturesque place to live on the California coast. This beautiful beach town in California is surrounded by eclectic boutiques and colorful buildings. Capitola is considered one of the most beautiful places to live in California. From here you will get to see nature and marine life closely. If you are looking for a town where you can start your own business then Capitola is one of the best options you will have in California.

Capitola is one of the fastest-growing towns in California. An estimated growth rate of 31.0% has been predicted for this town in the upcoming 10 years. Capitola harbors people from the neighborhood. Over thousands of people migrate to this place to start their startups.

This is a great place to live near Santa Cruz for all as this area is not expensive at all. Only 10090 people live here in this coastal California city. The median household income in Capitola is $81,617. The crime rate of this beach town in California is only 2.21 per 1000 people which is a good sign for livelihood.

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Capitola_Best California Beach Towns

Things to do in Capitola

  • Capitola State Beach is a great place to explore its local culture. You can enjoy sunbathing on wide beaches and can play volleyball and other water sports too.
  • Visit the historical museum in Capitola to know about Capitola’s history and more about the Santa Cruz country region.
  • Look no further than Sante Adairius Rustic Ales if you’re searching for fun activities in Capitola. It not only serves deliciously sour beers, but it also offers a welcoming atmosphere and nice owners.

3. Avila Beach

Avila Beach is an unincorporated community in San Luis Obispo County, California. This is located on San Luis Obispo Bay. Avila beach is about 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and about 200 miles south of San Francisco.

Avila beach is one of the best coastal beaches in California to live.

In summer many festivals are conducted by the locals where you will see locals are selling vegetables, local cuisines, arts and crafts. The most attractive thing about Avila beach is its local wine. People from the neighborhood come to this place for its tasty wines.

This small beach town of California is situated in San Luis Obispo Bay which is popular for a rapidly growing economy. But in recent years this small beach town is seeing a declining growth rate.

Despite Avila beach’s declining growth rate, its tourism is the best thing to experience in California. Each corner of this beautiful beach has pubs, restaurants, and gift shops from where you can buy souvenirs as well.

This sub-urban area has only 1455 people. The crime rate in Avila Beach is 15.52 per 1,000 residents. The central area of Avila Beach is considered the safest place to live in.

10 Best Beach Towns In California to Visit & to Live in 2023
Avila Beach

Things to do in Avila beach:

  • If you’re new to Avila beach then the first thing you should do is to visit the Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. Here you can have freshly prepared wine at a reasonable price. Even you can go for a tour of the vineyards.
  • Another thing that you must experience is Bob Jones City to Sea trail. If you’re an athlete or maybe want to walk at the seaside then this trail is going to mesmerize you with its panoramic beauty and open sky.
  • In Avila beach, you can take a bike to rent to explore this beach town. Roam around the city on your own and see its culture and friendly people.

4. Carpinteria

Popularly known as Carp, Carpinteria is one of the safest beach towns in California. This place is best known for its friendly atmosphere. Situated 10 miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria is considered one of the best cities to live in California.

This beach town has many things to offer you such as the best surfing sea beach, casual dining options, small bars, and many curio shops as well.

Carpinteria harbors tourists from different parts of the world so whenever you visit this beach town in California you will find the crowd. It is highly recommended to book your accommodation in advance if you’re planning to go to Carpinteria. Check out some of our tips to find cheap accommodation anywhere.

The education system of Carpenteria offers some of the best schools in Califonia. This is also one of the reasons people are migrating to this place.

With a crime rate of 19.75 (per 1000 residents) Carpenteria is one of the safest places to live in. Whereas the U.S average crime rate is 22.7. As this area is crownless that’s why the chances of crime or theft are very low. Only 13,449 people live here in this town.


Things to do in Carpinteria

  • The main attraction of Carpenteria is Linden Avenue in the city. All the streets have the classic California look. You will get to see tall palm trees on the streets, colorful shops, and all sorts of eating stalls.
  • You can rent a bicycle to roam around the lanes to know the culture of the town.
  • Visit the world’s largest tall Torrey pine tree here in Carpinteria.
  • Canzelle Alpacas zoo is a famous place in Carpinteria. But the only disadvantage of this zoo is you cannot walk in! You have to book a ticket in advance to visit this Zoo.
  • You can visit the tar beach to see the beautiful cliffs.

5. Cayucos

Located on the central coast of Estero Bay, Cayucos is ideal for people who are looking for coastal living in California. This is a popular resort town and popularly known for its tourist hospitality. Just 30 minutes away from the Castle of Hearst. You will get to see everything related to American old culture. Cayucos is also famous for its saloons and antique shops.

This place is a crownless area thus making it one of the best peaceful towns in California. Only 2228 people live here in Cayucos.

The median household income of this small town is $64,246 which is pretty good for surviving but this is a little expensive.

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Things to do in Cayucos

  • If you love food and drinks then obviously you would like to explore local restaurants and bars in Cayucos. Each corner of this town offers you mouth-watering cuisines.
  • Cayucos Pier is a great location to be at. From here you will see a clear panoramic view of the entire Cayucos coastal area. People come to this place for photography too. Morning is the best time to visit this pier.
  • Estero Bluff State Park is a must-visit place in Cayucos. You can also choose a self-guided audio driving tour to Morro Bay.
  • If you’ve only one day in hand to explore Cayucos beach town then we would suggest exploring its water sports. Kayaking, surfing, and water rafting are some of the best water sports that you can experience here.
  • Visit local stores to buy murals and souvenirs. Local murals of Cayucus are famous in entire California.

6. La Jolla

La Jolla is a hilly neighborhood located near the city of San Diego. This area has occupied 7 miles of coastline in San Diego. It is popular for its wide white sand beaches. This coastal beach city in California is surrounded by ocean bluffs and beaches from 3 sides.

La Jolla is considered the most desirable place in San Diego because of its economy. The economy of La Jolla is growing rapidly since 2010. People come to this place because of its beautiful water surroundings. La Jolla has various businesses and start-ups from small to big, software to tourism everything attracts here people of all ages.

The education system of La Jolla is not only good but its education system ranks 9 on greatschool.com. Only 38,261people are living here in this small town. The average household income in La Jolla is about $105,904.

La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove

Things to do in La Jolla

  • See some San Diego sightseeing and their natural surroundings. It will take you half a day to complete this tour. This is conducted by the local authority.
  • One of the historic places in La Jolla is Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. You can see some old heritage buildings and architecture here.
  • Experience paragliding in La Jolla under proper guidance at a very reasonable price.
  • Ellen Browning Scripps Pier is one of the most beautiful sights you would like to visit in La Jolla as this place offers you a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean.
  • La Jolla is surrounded by water bodies so every corner of this town is full of water sports and activities. Tourists can easily take a part in all these games. From kayaking to surfing everything is just amazing in La Jolla.
  • Spot a spectacular sunrise at Balboa Park. There are some other epic places to visit for sunrise in San Diego, you should check them out!

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 7. Carmel-by-the Sea

Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the Sea is a great place to feel nature. Its azure sky and beautiful surroundings make this place a gem. Carmel-by-the Sea is a beach city in California where you will find artists, poets, and writers at every corner. This city is full of art and cultures. People come from different parts of the world to this city to learn about its heritage and culture.

The population of this area is only 3799. As you can see this place is not that crowdy. People do come and travel to this place but this place remains crowd-free throughout the year.

Carmel’s education system is great. It has top-class institutes like California State University – Monterey Bay, Monterey Peninsula College, and other top colleges.

Carmel-by-the Sea
Carmel-by-the Sea

Things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea

  1. Do you love sea lions? Then visit Pier 39 and you will get to see sea lions playing at the bay.
  2. Visit The San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission. This is a historical place where you will get to see a glimpse of Spanish culture.
  3. Point Lobos is another incredible place to visit if you’re in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here you see dramatic coastal scenery and natural diversity. You will be awed by the magnificent ocean scenery too.
  4. You will see whales in winter and sea lions all year round in this Bay Area. This area offers hiking, walking, bird watching, scuba diving, and magnificent views.

8. Bodega Bay

Bodega is located 60 km northwest of San Francisco and 32 km west of Santa Rosa. This small beach town is famous for its fish farming. Apart from fishing, this place is highly popular in the country for its epic hiking and biking trails.

Consisting of 1069people, Bodega beach town is one of the cheapest places to live in northern California. The annual growth rate of Bodega Bay is 6% and in the last year, this small beach town has seen a 1.7% of growth rate.

There are plenty of things to do in Bodega Bay. Every corner of this town is full of bars restaurants, gift shops, and many others activities.

Sunset at Bodega Bay
Sunset at Bodega Bay

Things to in Bodega Bay:

  1. Bodega Bay is a great place to see whales at any time throughout the year.
  2. In this small beach town, you will get many travel agencies who conduct private sailing tours at a fair price.
  3. You can take a tour of this small town by riding a horse. If you are new at horse riding then you will get proper guidance too.
  4. Several local groups conduct vineyard tours. You can roam around these vine gardens too.
  5. Sonoma Valley wine trolley is one of the best exciting things to be a part of in Bodega Bay.
  6. Experience the best local mouth-watering seafood from Squid Point Crab. This restaurant is one of the renowned first food centers in this region.
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9. Morro Bay

This California beach town is quite affordable and is popular for its Morro Rock and Volcano Beach. The view of this coastal beach area is outstanding. Morro Bay is a seaside city, situated in San Luis Obispo County, California. Travelers come to this area to see the giant Morro Rock, trails, saltwater marsh, and lagoons.

The population of Morro Bay is 10592 people. Although this place is highly crowded, it offers the best travel experience of marine life.

The annual growth rate of this area has increased by2.45% since last year. The cost of living in morrow bay is 153.6 which is higher than the national cost of living (considering the national cost of living is 100) and the median household income is $810,200.

The education system of Morrow Bay is quite good and offers highly educated faculties in its schools and universities.

Morro Bay
Morro Bay

Things to do in Morro Bay

  1. Visit Morro Bay State Park.  It offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, bird-watching, mountain biking, etc. You can hire a canoe or kayak to paddle on the water too.
  2. Nature lovers can visit the National Estuary in Morro Bay. This is a wildlife haven protected by the federal government.
  3. Morrow Bay has many things to offer you and among them, its cuisine is the best one. The local seafood is a must-try thing in Morro Bay.
  4. There is a skateboard museum that preserves the proliferation of skateboarding culture in the region and throughout the world.
  5. There is a natural history museum where you will get to know about natural calamities and geological scientific things.

10. Shelter Cove

If you have a tight budget but want to roam around the California beaches then we would suggest you visit Shelter Cove. This is one of the best beach towns to visit in California if you are looking for a short weekend trip. Situated in Humboldt County, Shelter cove is considered one of the cheapest beach towns in southern California for families.

This area offers water dining, a shopping mall, the best gift shops, and nightclubs too. Tourists and travelers come to this place to take part in the Harbor Fest. A festival where you can enjoy a variety of activities like water sports, crabbing, fishing, sailing, dinner cruises, and much more.

The population of this city is only 803. In 2019 the annual growth of Shelter Cove is 16.03% which is an indication of a high possibility of growth.

Shelter Cove
Shelter Cove

Things to do in Shelter Cove

  1. People who love water sports can do kayaking in Hilton Head with local groups and guides.
  2. In Hilton Head, you can see dolphins on a boat all you need to book a ticket in advance.
  3. There is a bike trail available in Hilton Head. You can roam around the city by taking rental bikes.
  4. Here, you can taste local and Mexican cuisines at a very reasonable price in Shelter Cove. One of our favorite restaurants is San Miguel’s Mexican Cafe.

These beach towns are great if you’re planning a trip to visit California but to be honest living in California is a little more expensive than other places in Unites states. You can spend your retired life peacefully here in California but you must have a good bank balance.

It is fine to visit these California beach towns on a vacation but if you have a plan to move to California then you might feel this is costlier than other places in the United States. California is no doubt a great place to live or for a vacation but like any other place, California too has several pros and cons.

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FAQ: Best Beach Towns in California

1. What city in California has the best beaches?

A: California is home to some of the best beaches in the US. Among them, Laguna Beach city and La Jolla are best known and renowned.

2. What is the most affordable beach community in Southern California?

A: Santa Barbara is the most affordable beach community in southern California. The median household income in this place is $78,925.

3. What beach in California has the whitest sand?

A: Carmel City Beach is a long, wide, white sand beach and one of the most popular whitest sand beaches in entire California.

4. What part of California has the prettiest water?

A: Laguna Beach is one of the prettiest water bodies in California. It is also famous for its well-decorated resorts.

5. What is the safest beach town to live in California?

A: Carpentaria is one of the safest beach towns to live in California. The crime rate is only 19.75 per 1000 people.  

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