Coming from out of state, the California beaches were something that I was really looking forward at the beginning of my freshman year. Now, two years later, when I can pull myself away from shear and moment diagrams and material testing, the first thing I want to do is head for the beach. Luckily, there are quite a few beaches within a close radius to campus – perfect for a Zipcar day trip!

All of the beaches differ in the shopping scene, cleanliness, crowd, food and activities. It usually just depends on my mood which beach I go to! I recently had my cousin in town and thought the best way to give her the Los Angeles experience while still getting to see the beach would be to head out to Santa Monica. After walking through 3rd Street Promenade (of course shopping and eating along the way), we went to the famous pier and caught a glimpse of all the attractions. Santa Monica beach is pretty hard to beat when it comes to touristy attractions.

Great for: Shopping, Beach Volleyball & the Pier.

My hometown of Austin, TX is a little quirky (one of the reasons why I love it so much) and the only place that can rival such an atmosphere out here in SoCal is Venice Blvd. While the beach itself isn’t the cleanest or most picturesque, there is no lack of incredibly interesting people watching. Venice Beach is also a great place for cheaper shopping, local food and even maybe a workout at Muscle Beach?

Great for: People watching, shopping & working out.


Manhattan Beach is the classic go-to beach for most Trojans. With volleyball courts, tons of open space, some solid waves, great places to eat the whole walk down to the sand, Manhattan Beach caters to pretty much anyone.

Great for: Everything.


A view of the Manhattan Beach pier at sunset


another beautiful day for catching some sun

Finally, if I have burned up most of the daylight studying in the E-Quad or working in Ronald Tutor Hall, I’ll call up some friends, grab some firewood (and possibly some marshmallows and chocolate) and head out to Dockweiler Beach for a nighttime bonfire. Some of my favorite college memories so far have come from a night with great friends surrounding a bonfire and telling stories. Dockweiler Beach is also right under the airport so you can watch as the planes take off over the Pacific!



While there are obviously a bunch of beaches in southern California, I think these are some of the more accessible ones to students and are my personal favorites. So if you can find a free moment from your busy schedules some weekend, book a Zipcar, grab some friends, and head out to the beach!



One Comment

  • Rana says:

    Hi Maisie! I came across your blog post in my search for LA housing. My boyfriend is going to USC this year and we would love to live by the beach. (We are moving from DC so maybe you can understand why lol.) Your post is full of excellent info, but I’m hoping you could tell me if any of these beach areas are USC-friendly in terms of the daily commute. From what I can tell, it may be too far west, but I’d be thrilled if it were a possibility. Thanks for any suggestions!