When my brother and I went to Southern California last month, we spent a much needed day relaxing at the beach. Because my family goes to California fairly often, we have a few go-to beaches. Here are my three favorites!
Newport Beach is one of the more famous beaches in Southern California – and for good reason. Soft sand, a fun boardwalk, volleyball nets, and of course, a great surf. If you’re looking for a beach that is good for playing in the waves, Newport is ideal because the shore is fairly even and shallow. Newport Beach is also a favorite with the surfers. It does tend to be one of the busier beaches, so my brother and I didn’t go there on this trip.
Balboa Beach is just south of Newport Beach, on Balboa Peninsula, but it is often much less crowded. The shore is a bit steeper, but you get some great waves coming in as well. There are a lot of fun little shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, just like at Newport. My family has also had great luck finding sand dollars and shells at Balboa. If you’re looking for a beach with fire pits, Balboa is the place to go.
Corona del Mar
Corona del Mar State Beach is further south still and is in the little bay created by Balboa Peninsula. This is one of my personal favorites because it’s a little different from the others. The beach is backed by a hill (with gorgeous houses at the top), and there are beautiful rock formations on the shore. I also love driving around the neighborhoods of Corona del Mar because of the spectacular view of the ocean, and there are some impressive houses as well.
While there are plenty of options for food around these beaches, here are just a few of my top suggestions:
- Sugar ‘n Spice: Get your Balboa Bars here! (And your frozen bananas and frozen cheesecake on a stick.) If you’ve never had a Balboa Bar, it’s an ice cream bar that is dipped in chocolate and rolled in the toppings of your choice – crushed Oreos, nuts, sprinkles, coconut, heath crunch, etc. While my favorite has changed over time, I currently love a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped almonds. Sugar ‘n Spice and Dad’s are the two main places to go for Balboa Bars on Balboa Island, and they’re both delicious.
- Seaside Bakery Donuts: If you’re looking for some good donuts, this is it. They’re simply fresh and delicious. I’m sure you can choose some donuts without any help from me, but personally, I love their cronuts, maple bars, and cake donuts (with frosting and sprinkles, of course!).
- Crab Cooker: Heaven for all seafood lovers. The atmosphere is fun and laidback, and the food is always on point. If you’ve never had red Manhattan-style clam chowder, try it! It’s amazing. My current favorite dish is the crab cakes, and my family loves the shrimp and scallop skewers as well. Be sure to get the mashed potatoes as a side – they’re finished off on the stovetop with some cheese so they end up as potatoey, cheesy perfection.
- BJ’s Restaurant: My brother and I ordered a pizza to go from BJ’s while we were at Balboa Beach. It was ready in only 15 minutes, and it was GOOD. We got the Spicy Hawaiian Chicken with a deep dish crust… and I have no suggestions for improvement. It’s a great choice for lunch or dinner near the beach, whether you want to dine in or take out.
Those are just a few of my favorites; there are lots of other restaurants, bakeries, and snack shops around the beaches that are great! And let’s be honest: I can’t go to Southern California without going to In-N-Out Burger at least once. Another favorite is Panera Bread. (The Thai Chicken Salad is perfection.) While you may not think twice about going to Panera this weekend, it’s quite a treat for those of us who sadly live in a state without Panera.
Just writing this blog article has me already longing for my next day at the beach in Southern California. It can’t come soon enough! See you at the beach!
Written by Caroline Larson.
*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.