South of downtown Laguna Beach, the locals’ favorite Aliso Beach County Park is popular with surfers, boogie boarders and skimboarders. With picnic tables, fire pits and a play area, it’s also good for families. Pay-and-display parking costs $1 per hour. Or drive south and park on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for free.
Along the way, dozens of public beaches sprawl along just a few miles of coastline. Keep a sharp eye out for ‘beach access’ signs off PCH.