A Free People Girl’s Guide to LA: Beach Edition

Last week, we introduced the Free People Girl’s Guide to LA: City Edition and this week we’re excited to cross the 405 into Westside terrority, better known as the LA beach cities! 

The LA coastline is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It spans from North Malibu, through the Santa Monica beach towns, down to the South Bay including Manhattan Beach and Long Beach. Small pockets of charming towns can be found everywhere on the Westside.

Malibu, home to Zuma Beach and Point Dume, is a quick and welcome getaway from city life. Venice, one of my favorite cities in the country and where I called home for years, is filled to the brim with utterly cool and eclectic places to eat, shop, and hang. Moving further south, you pass through Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey, two small beach towns that are quick to overlook but well worth the exploration. Continuing south, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, three gorgeous, quaint, and family-oriented communities, sit along the South Bay coast. These three beach towns are home to great surf, professional beach volleyball, and one of the best bike paths around, called The Strand. But don’t take my word for it! I’ve enlisted the help of Free People girls from in and around LA’s beach scene. So throw on our LA Spotify mix and read on to discover the cool, atypical, and underground things to do on the Westside that wouldn’t be found on a typical city guide!


From Rebecca, South LA Senior Visual Manager: “LA isn’t really known as an enjoyable place to drive, but the stretch of PCH through Malibu is one of my favorite routes in LA. My husband and I love to ride his motorcycle up to Point Dume or El Matador State Beach. Motorcycle or not, it’s a fun drive with lots of beautiful beaches to stop at along the way. It gets pretty busy during the weekend so if you are looking for the open road, I’d suggest heading that way during the week.”

Niree, Store Manager at Free People Studio City: “Paradise Cove is my favorite beach. My mom would take us every week during the summer when school was out. It reminds me of a place you would see in a ’50s movie: blue and white chairs everywhere, families sunbathing or eating, kids on surfboards, etc. It is definitely more of a family place versus a modern beach like Zuma or Venice. It caters to a family-oriented crowd. Something about that beach invokes an innocence that we don’t see as often anymore. It is a tradition I have kept and will coninue to keep as long as I can.”


Vanessa, Store Manager at Free People Manhattan Beach: “MB Post is by far one of the best spots in Downtown Manhattan Beach. It’s two blocks away from the beach and has some of the best food in town! It is carefully placed in the old Manhattan Beach Post Office from the 1960’s. By adding some great embellishments like the volleyball post shelving, vintage post office desks, and community seating, they have perfected the laid-back and relaxed feeling that best represents our beach community. They focus on artisnal, small shared plates and hand-crafted cocktails. Do yourself a favor and get at least two orders of their famous bacon cheddar biscuits, TO DIE FOR! And if by some miracle you have room for dessert, make a stop across the street to the Manhattan Beach Creamery and you can build your own Cream’wich with their homemade ice cream and cookies!”

Alex, Visual Manager at Free People Santa Monica: “The beach was the initial pull that prompted me to move to Los Angeles from New York. On my days off I enjoying driving up the PCH, pulling off at secret little surf spots in Malibu and grabbing lunch at Neptune’s or Malibu Seafood.”


Erica, North LA Senior Visual Manager: “I love spending a full day in the South Bay. The three beaches are only 2 miles from each other and each has its own charm. Start the morning with a stand up paddle board session in Manhattan Beach. Then grab lunch at Quality Seafood and play a few games at the vintage arcade in Redondo Beach. End the day with a fresh margarita and some good sunset views from the Hermosa Beach pier. It all makes for endless FP Me content too!”

Lindsay, Assistant Manager at Free People Santa Monica: “Hidden Treasures in Topanga is an amazing vintage clothing store to stop in and pick up threads from the ’50s. Hike Indian Cave in Topanga! Also, Tower 15 off of PCH in Palisades is a great local beach spot to surf and tan.”


Jordan, Store Manager at Free People Topanga: “There are tons of beaches to explore along the coast of Malibu. A personal favorite of mine is Pirate’s Cove, the name alone will win you over and because it requires climbing over rocks to get to it, this cove is usually very quiet and private.”

Katie, Visual Manager at Free People Manhattan Beach: “My perfect day involves jumping on my skateboard and skating the strand with my boyfriend. The strand is a running/walking/biking path that runs along the coastline from Venice Beach all the way down to Redondo Beach. We usually stop at Martha’s in Hermosa Beach — the BEST place for brunch — before laying around the beach for the rest of the day!”


Elaine, Senior Visual Manager of North & South LA: “I love Venice General Store on Lincoln Blvd and also check out Will Leather Goods on Abbott Kinney. Stop at Feed Mind Body Soul — it’s a great place to eat and is fun to stop in for a drink and to chill.”

Carey, Assistant Manager at Free People Manhattan Beach: “Start your day off right and head to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House for the best breakfast burrito you’ll ever have! They have the most quaint outdoor seating where you have a clear view of the ocean! My family and I usually walk down to the Roundhouse Aquarium, located on the inside of Manhattan Beach Pier. It’s small but you still get to see a lot of fish and invertebrates; you can even touch some starfish! Then grab a Two Guns Espresso at the pier café and watch the surfers on the beach!”


And me you ask? Well, it’s been years since I’ve lived on the beach but some of my most precious memories were made there. My biggest piece of advice is to either rent or borrow bikes to use as your transportation for the day. You get to spend the day cruising under the sun and you can jump on and off at any point to stop at different beaches, shops, or cafes. Plus riding bikes allow you to bypass the traffic and parking headaches altogether. If you’re cruising bikes around Venice, I recommend stopping at James Beach to kick back and quench your thirst. Then hit up Hama Sushi, founded in 1979, for a fresh and authentic Japanese sushi dinner. Oh, and be sure to watch at least one sunrise and one sunset while you’re there! Bring a blanket for both occasions. But whatever you end up doing, wear lots of sunscreen and moisturizer. And make sure The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, and The Mamas and Papas records are rollin’.

+ Hey guys, what else can we add to The Free People Girl’s Guide to LA: Beach Edition? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

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8 years ago

Take me there NOW! Hello from a rainy London… x


8 years ago

Being from Toronto, Canada the beaches of California are something that I have dreamed about my whole life. When I finally get there ( within the next year) this guide will be extremely helpful. Thank you so much for sharing.


8 years ago

Born and raised in the South Bay!! The best place to live, in my opinion :) Kind, laid back people, some amazing restaurants… There’s always something to do. When I run or bike down the strand, or spend an unseasonably warm February day at the beach, I am in awe of it’s beauty and the fact that I actually live in paradise… So lucky! I’m at work right now in Hermosa, and I’m a few hundred feet from the beach! The weather forecast for today says a high of 79!! Might have to hit the beach after work ;)

8 years ago

Love this! I could definitely see myself moving to get to the shore- or at least a warmer one! I definitely want to meet the Pacific soon.

Warm Regards,

8 years ago

Although I’m from LA, I am always amazed at the gorgeous drive up PCH Pacific Coast Highway, the road is so close to the ocean it’s almost as if you are skimming across the surface like a pelican gliding across the waves as you drive up the coast!

The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

8 years ago

Great suggestions! The PCH drive through Malibu is one of my favorites as well. Point Dume and Manhattan Beach are definitely two of the best beaches close to the city. Crystal Cove is amazing, but it does require a drive down to OC.

In Malibu, I would also recommend El Matador State Beach and Leo Carillo State Beach. El Matador has awesome rock formations and Leo Carillo has caves and crystal clear waters. Both are a bit further of a drive away from LA, but you get to enjoy the drive along the PCH for that much longer ;)

8 years ago

The strand actually includes Torrance Beach, and the actual beach cuts off at Rat Beach (a great surf and tide pool spot) that leads up into Palos Verdes (a great hiking/horseback riding/scuba area). Plus if you’re in the Redondo Beach area a cool place to check out is the Riviera Village On Avenue I and Palos Verdes Blvd. It has cute boutiques, art galleries, a thrift shop, fun places to eat, and a street fair in the spring :). Plus it’s really pretty during Christmas with all the lights and a horse carriage.

8 years ago

YES!! I love beach that’s why I love and live in LA! <3<3<3

8 years ago

If you do to Malibu, you have to visit Malibu Farm Cafe and Sunlife!