This SoCal heat we’ve been experiencing is perfect for one thing and one thing only: beach trips accompanied with sand castles, melting ice cream, horrific tan lines, screaming children, body surfing and a few brutal games of volleyball. You may find, though, that some beaches are a lot better than others.
Here’s a quick rundown on the beaches in the area so that you can spend more time out there enjoying the sun and the sand than at home, wondering which beach to go to next.
Corona del Mar, Newport
Cleanliness: 8/10 – The beach is fairly clean until you get to the rocks where you will find trash left from visitors who often forget to pick up after themselves. Remember to bring shoes if you visit the rocks; I’ve found glass on the ground before.
Food: The beach is surrounded by the very famous Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream. The prices are steep, but I would recommend getting a cupcake or a cupcake sundae. The ice cream alone will be underwhelming. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it but Yelp swears by Mama D’s Italian Kitchen. Check out some of the nearby restaurants here.
Crowd Control: It definitely doesn’t get as crowded as Huntington or Venice Beach, but you’ll still have a large amount of groups. It’ll be easy to reserve a fire pit if you get there early enough.
Parking: The beach has a private lot (down the long, windy driveway on Ocean Blvd.) that charges $15 for the entire day. If you don’t mind walking a bit, there are a lot of residential areas to park, making your beach getaway a free trip (minus the cost of food, of course).
Verdict: This beach makes fun in the sun super easy. Plan your trip now!
Crystal Cove, Laguna
Cleanliness: 10/10 – Every time I’ve visited this beach, I’ve never seen a single piece of trash in the sand. Of course, there are some wrappers when people are eating and whatnot, but everyone is very good about cleaning up after themselves.
Food: Ruby’s Diner on Balboa Pier isn’t too far from here, and although it smells like fish because of the dozens of fishermen, you can’t say no to Ruby’s milkshakes. Also, if you’re like me (aka a die-hard for Mediterranean food), catch Adonis Mediterranean Grill!
Crowd Control: Crystal Cove Beach is huge, so the crowds are really nothing to worry about; there will always be a spot for you and your friends to sprawl across the sand and relax under the SoCal sun.
Parking: Because the state beach is so large, there are quite a few parking lots to leave your car, depending where on the beach you want to be. All of them are about $15-$20 for the whole day.
Verdict: Who doesn’t love an immaculate and spacey beach? It’s a go!
Huntington Beach, Huntington
Cleanliness: 8/10 – There are always a few leftover wrappers, bottles and paper lying around somewhere but for the most part, it’s pretty clean for a beach that gets crazy crowds.
Food: You can find everything and anything you want on Huntington Beach Pier (Main Street). There are many eateries including Jamba Juice, Bomburger, Aloha Grill, Pizza Lounge, BJ’s and much more. The best part is that they are just a short walk away, you definitely won’t get hungry.
Crowd Control: Come early, especially if you want a fire pit. It can get crazy trying to find a decent spot, so definitely set your alarm a few hours earlier than you’re used to.
Parking: Just like the other beaches, parking is about $15 for the entire day. Because the surrounding area is busy, there aren’t many residential spots to park that are a reasonable distance to walk to the beach.
Verdict: There are better beaches out there with less crowds. Use this as a second option.
Venice Beach, Venice
Cleanliness: 5/10 – I figure giving them a zero would be a bit unfair, but Venice Beach is one of my least favorite beaches because of how downright dirty it is. If it were as clean as any of the other beaches listed here, it might be one of my favorites; I totally enjoy the art, the shops and the performers, but I’m not willing to ignore the gross stench and trash everywhere.
Food: Every time I’ve paid a visit to this beach, my family had brought their own food, so I haven’t tried much in the area, though the boardwalk has endless vendors selling food, clothes, souvenirs and so much more. Looking for something a little more reliable? Check out these restaurants.
Crowd Control: I couldn’t imagine how early you would have to come to avoid these crowds. Come with the expectation of finding little to no space and you’ll enjoy your trip. Anything else and you might be frustrated for a while.
Parking: Parking here is kind of sketchy because there are random men telling you to park in these random, tight spaces for $20 for the entire day. Just be careful getting out of and into your car because chances are, you’re parking half an inch away from another one.
Verdict: Skip if you can!
Moonlight, San Diego
Cleanliness: 10/10 – I mean, just look at that photo.
Food: It’s quite the trip getting down to this beach (think of a super steep staircase that could rival a StairMaster at the BRIC), so my friends and I deemed it necessary to bring our own food and drinks so that we wouldn’t have to travel so much. Unless you’re willing to burn an entire day’s calories just to get back into your car and grab some food, I recommend you just bring your snacks and meals with you. But for a list of good restaurants, click here.
Crowd Control: Quite a big crowd but nothing you can’t handle. If you’re willing to walk all the way down to the end of the beach, you’ll get a ton of space to yourself, as seen in the above photo. Warning: Do not walk long distances here barefoot. The sand at this beach will give you some gnarly burns.
Parking: Thankfully, there are residential neighborhoods in the area for you to find some parking for free. It just gets better and better, huh?
Verdict: Why are you still reading this? Go to this beach already!
Hopefully, this will suffice for the rest of these hot days, Broncos. May your beach trips be full of sugary ice cream, sandy hair and awesome waves.
Have you been going to the beach often this summer? Tell us about your experiences using the hashtag, #CampusCropChat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to follow us on Snapchat @asicpp!