West and south of central Los Angeles is a 60-mile stretch of shore that acts as a breezy counterweight to the densely packed city - subsumed by smog and plagued by notoriously bad traffic - that sits inland. Here, the pace is visibly more relaxed, the scene set not by highrise buildings but happy hour, sherbet sunsets and miles of sandy shore. To offset long days at the beach are cultural pursuits which run from museum-going to pier perambulating and Venice Beach people-watching with a well-rounded events calendar thrown in for good measure.
Framed at its northern end by the undeveloped Santa Monica Mountains, this stretch of coast takes in both upscale communities like Malibu and less prestigious towns like EL Segundo, neither of which are far from major air traffic hub, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In terms of tourist destinations, Santa Monica and Venice Beach are easily the most popular, endowed with a good range of attractions, within stomping distance of mountain trails, a stone's throw from the airport and closer still to the Pacific. Shopping, surfing and sidewalk cafes vie with Santa Monica's quaint pier for attention, while Venice Beach is better known for the local characters who frequent the city beach area hawking temporary tattoos, artwork, knock-off goods and everything in between.
Just south of Venice Beach is Marina del Rey, home to a prominent small craft harbor. Fishermen line the piers here and in Manhattan Beach, a less commercial area with lots of families and a clean, hometown ambiance. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, with its rocky green cliffs, is short on beaches but offers plenty of tidepools and good surfing spots. Finally, some 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles is Long Beach, the city's main port, an artificial harbor in the San Pedro Bay. There are two good aquariums in the immediate vicinity, as well as an art museum. Importantly, it's also a gateway to nearby Catalina Island, linked to the mainland by regular ferry.
Coastal Los Angeles is located south and west of the city in southwest California, about 60 miles north of San Diego. Go-California also offers separate coverage of Central Los Angeles and the Orange County area.