Santa Cruz is one of California's best-kept secrets. Check out the beach boardwalk that is almost 100 years old that boasts a full amusement park right along the coast – sans admission! When you're done with the adventure rides, take in the scenery at the Natural Bridges State Beach or cruise along the legendary Highway 1.
Del Mar is home to some incredible beaches, including Solana Beach. This coastal town is quaint and quiet, and boasts art galleries, Seagrove Park, James Scripps Bluffs Preserve for some great sightseeing when you are done sunning in the surf. You won't find oceanfront concessions on this pristine beach, so be sure to pack in provisions if you are planning on spending the day on the water.
Online: Del Mar Beaches - delmar.ca.us
The Redondo Beach Pier, in Redondo Beach, California, offers shopping, dining, sightseeing, fishing and a variety of other regular events, including a farmer's market. (See a calendar of events here.) Kids will love the Fun Factory, an amusement park that features rides and more than 300 arcade games. You can also take boat tours to see the sights, and -- depending on the season -- to go whale watching. Located between Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach Pier is also not far from LAX.
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