Central California beaches might not be as famous as some southern neighbors, but this stretch of coastline has plenty of beautiful places to soak up the sun. For those travelers that are new to the Golden State, California is typically broken up into three regions: northern, central, and Southern California. The Central CA coast is full of beaches that offer entertaining options for families, a wide range of water sports, nightlife, and spots to relax too. No matter what type of beach experience you’re looking for, you will find a perfect match in Central California.
Of all the Central California beaches, one of the best known is Santa Cruz. This beach is very attractive for its boardwalk full of entertainment that flanks the beach. Here it is easy to spend part of your day working on your tan, and the other part climbing aboard rides and trying your luck at games. Many families are drawn to Santa Cruz for the entertainment of the boardwalk. There is also a nightlife element here. Concerts and beach bars keep the atmosphere steamy even after a beautiful sunset.
Another popular spot along the Central CA coast is Avila Beach. Located precisely between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Avila Beach is known for a certain small town charm. Here you can plan a relaxing vacation that includes days at the spa or soaking in the mineral hot springs. Travelers that are looking for a Central California beach with all the amenities will love Avila Beach. This spot offers excellent shopping, restaurants, and golf. If you’re looking to stay active during your trip, local things to do include kayaking, bicycling, fishing, and snorkeling.
Avila Beach isn’t your only option along this stretch of coastline. Many frequent visitors also love the beaches of Big Sur. These beaches are known as being a little more difficult to reach, but well worth the effort. State parks here provide incredible scenery. Once you hike down the beach—none of these beaches have particularly easy access—you will be rewarded with views of the shimmering Pacific Ocean. If you’re interested in bird watching, you will definitely want to explore the state park beaches in Big Sur. From December to May it is also possible to see migrating gray whales during a visit to these beaches.
Pismo Beach is another great beach in Central California. The long stretches of white beaches here are perfect for a romantic stroll or a relaxing day of surfing or body boarding. Adventurous travelers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to go horseback riding or fishing, while those seeking relaxation won’t have a problem finding a big patch of sand to call their own. With a local boardwalk and premium outlet shopping nearby, there is also plenty of entertainment beyond the sand in Pismo Beach. If you think that the only beaches worth going to are in Southern California, these options in Central California will make you think again.