Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our 5 Fave Hidden Beaches in Southern California

Mommy and I love the beach! It's perfect we live in sunny Southern California. But, some of the beaches down here can be pretty crowded. Some are just so famous that everyone wants to visit, and they get overrun with tourists and teenagers and party seekers. We're much more mellow than that. While it's fun to watch a surf competition amongst thousands of fans and media crews, mommy and I prefer to just chill. Sitting on the sand and watching the peaceful ocean toss a few waves is much more our speed. Thankfully, there are a few sleepy beach towns left with their old fashioned Main Street of mom and pop stores hidden for just us locals to enjoy.

1. Hermosa Beach

Down the street from the hustle and bustle of the popular Manhattan beach, is the little town of Hermosa Beach. Yes, it does have a small pier with a few drinking spots, but it's not quite as crazy, and the uphill Pier Ave is a great walk of small shops and local coffeehouses that are great for strolling along. Try Java Man, they're gingerbread lattes are amazing! The town itself is only about 1.3 square miles. Mommy and I love to sit on the Pier next to the Tim Kelly Lifeguard Memorial Statue and people watch.

2. Seal Beach

This beach is our favorite! (We used to live here) Down the ways from the uberpopular and famous Huntington Beach lies the sleepy beach community of Seal Beach. It's only about 13 square miles and the historic downtown Main Street is a picture perfect replica of a 1920s beach community. Mommy and I often saw a movie at the old Bay Theater that shows our old favorites as well as new arrivals. Not many know of Seal Beach's existence because it's hidden, not noticeable as you drive down Pacific Coast Hwy like most other beaches. It's even got a gated playground right on the sand for families with little kids like me to enjoy.

3. Aliso Beach

As fun as window shopping through Laguna Beach can be, the nearby Aliso Beach is much more serene, and relaxing on the sand at sunset is that much more beautiful when no one's around but you and the rocks. Aliso Beach doesn't have a main street to walk through, but the view of the cliffs and the waves crashing onto the rocks is a sight you just can't miss. The waves here can be pretty big and crash quite heavily, so mommy and I just sit on the sand and enjoy watching nature do its work.

4. Encinitas

About 25 miles north of San Diego, and my favorite zoo, is Encinitas. It's one of the beaches that actually offer a camp ground near the sand. The city itself is only 20 square miles, and is divided into Old and New Encinitas. New Encinitas is overrun with new developments and all the same Starbucks' and Barnes & Nobles shops you find everywhere. Old Encinitas was our choice; it has tons of old surf shops and family-run cafes to keep you busy. Mommy and I camped out here for a couple days so we can sleep soundly listening to the ocean waves as a lullaby. Our favorite part was finding old bookstores that sold used books. Mommy spent hours browsing through all her old favorite novels. Camping is another passion of ours, aside from the beach, so combining the two is perfect for us beach bums!

5. Avalon

Yes, we did throw Catalina on the list, but with a slight twist. It's not hidden, but you must visit the island during the Fall/Winter months. The summer months are far too crowded to enjoy this beautiful city. It's only about 3 square miles and offers so many shops and seafood restaurants. You can bike up and down the hills or cruise around in a golf cart. The houses all nestled in the hills make it look like we're in the Mediterranean. In the Winter, the sunsets are so beautiful, pinks and oranges all over the sky. It's such a small community that everyone knows who is just visiting and give suggestions on how to spend your time. The shops and cafes close early and you're left watching the boats bob up and down the harbor with the pink sky as your backdrop. Mommy took me up to The Cross to see the whole island, and we dreamt about what it would be like to live there.