Every nomad who visits Southern California wants to go to a beach where they can park their van or RV and step out directly onto the sand. This is the goal for most van and RV nomads, and they want the pictures to prove it.
Even though Southern California has a lot of beaches, there are not a lot of beaches that allow you to step directly onto the sand from your van.
Most beaches have parking lots located a short distance from the beach. Some parking lots are elevated or situated behind a series of bushes and shrubs before the actual sand starts.
This means there are only a handful of beaches where you can park directly up to the beach, step out, and feel sand between your toes. I have compiled a list of the best beaches to do that in Southern California between Los Angeles and Morro Bay.
The best beaches to pull your van right up to the beach from LA to Morro Bay are:
- El Segundo Beach
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- Will Rogers State Beach
- Zuma & Point Dume State Beach
- Sycamore and Thornhill Broome Beach
- Harbor Cove Beach
- Emma Woods State Beach
- Rincon Beach
- Refugio State Beach
- Oceana Dunes SVRA
- Morro Rock Beach
Each of these beaches offers you the opportunity to pull your van directly onto the sand. Beware, do not pull up too far, or you will end up getting stuck and yelled at by a lifeguard.
I like to park backward so I can open the rear doors and get an amazing view of the sand and the ocean. Then I will take a picture, as you see above, and send it to all of my friends to make them jealous.
Just make sure you arrive early because these prime beachfront parking spots fill up quickly. Everyone from van and RV nomads, soccer moms, surfers, romantic couples, cops, and groups of teenagers want to park directly at the edge of the sand.
There are only two requirements to make it on this list of best beachfront parking spots, and they are:
- There must be parking spaces directly on the edge of the beach, and if you pulled up too far, you would get stuck in the sand.
- The parking spots must accommodate a regular-sized van or small RV under 25 feet.
Although most beaches on this list allow you to park directly up to the sand, there are a few beaches that will have a boardwalk in front of your parking spot. I consider this to meet the criteria because if you just kept driving a little forward, you would be right into the sand.
Tips for Getting That Beach Front Parking Spot
As you have already probably figured out, the biggest issue of getting that prime beachfront parking spot is beating the crowds. Everyone who goes to the beach wants one of these spots. That is why it is imperative that you get to the beach early.
Here are a few tips for getting a beachfront parking spot.
- Get there EARLY (Before 8 am; surfers get up early)
- Go on the weekdays
- Grab the furthest away spot
Best Beachfront Parking Beaches
The beaches mentioned here fulfill that van or RV nomad dream of pulling right up to the beach and stepping out into the sand. Each of these beaches offers a unique experience for any van or RV nomad visiting or traveling around Southern California.
The beaches are arranged from Los Angeles to Morro Bay.
El Segundo Beach
El Segundo Beach is a small and quiet beach between Manhattan Beach and Dockweiler State Beach. There is one row of beachfront parking that allows you to pull right up to the sand.
The beach is a great place to spend the day surfing, cycling, playing volleyball, or just sunbathing.
Visit: El Segundo Beach
Venice Beach is a major tourist attraction, and somewhere you must visit at least once on your journey around Southern California. The parking lot at the Venice Pier has several parking spaces that allow you to pull right up to the sand and spend the day.
They are not as plentiful as the parking spots in Santa Monica, but the parking lot is not as crowded. You do not have to arrive so early to get a prime parking spot, especially on the weekdays.
Santa Monica is a major tourist attraction and a place you must visit at least once on your journey around Southern California. The Santa Monica Pier northern parking lot has several parking spaces that allow you to pull right up to the sand and spend the day.
Although there is a boardwalk directly in front of these parking spots, it still gives you an awesome experience of pulling right up to the sand. The boardwalk also allows you to spend the entire day people watching from the comfort of your van or RV.
I do not have to tell you how quickly these prime parking spots are taken, so arrive early if you want one of them.
Will Rogers State Beach
Will Rogers State Beach is a great beach to park your van or RV and spend the day. The only beachfront parking is located at the South Volleyball courts. The other beach-facing parking spots are located on a shrub embankment.
The beach is less crowded than Santa Monica or Malibu and offers plenty of parking.
The beach is 1.75 miles long and includes volleyball courts, playground, and gymnastic equipment. The beach is great for families as it is popular for surfing, surf fishing, sailing, and windsurfing.
Visit: Will Rogers State Beach
Zuma & Point Dune State Beach
A trip to Malibu is not complete without a walk along the famous Zuma Beach. The beach is 1.8 miles long and has beachfront parking.
The beach includes food stands, restrooms, restaurants, showers, and volleyball courts. Zuma Beach makes a wonderful place to park the van and spend the day surfing, paddle boarding, or just lounging around watching the scenery.
Sycamore Cove and Thornhill Broome Beach
Sycamore Cove and Thornhill Broome Beach are part of Point Mugu State Park and close to each other. If one beach does not have any beachfront spots available, try the next one.
- Thornhill Broome Beach offers a few beachfront parking spots for you to enjoy, along with a campground if you wish to stay.
- Sycamore Cove is a day-use area.
Visit: Point Mugu State Park
Harbor Cove Beach
Harbor Cove Beach is in Ventura Harbor and is a good place for any van or RV nomad to pull up to the sand while visiting Ventura. However, there is a boardwalk that separates the beachfront parking and the sand, and it is still a great place to be.
The beach offers a great place to swim and paddleboard because of its calm waters. It also has a restroom, outdoor shower, and the Harbor Cove Café.
Emma Woods State Beach
Emma Woods State Beach is a perfect place to park your van and enjoy the day. There are two sections that run adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway. These sections are:
- Emma Woods State Beach Campground
- PCH beachfront parking
You will see many van and RV nomads parked along the PCH. It is a great place to meet new friends and enjoy the surf.
Visit: Emma Woods State Beach
Rincon Beach is a must-stop destination for any van or RV nomad who is a surfer and traveling up or down the Southern California coast. There are two sections that run along the Pacific Coast Highway. These sections are:
- Rincon Parkway Campground (South)
- Rincon Beach (North)(Day Use)
You will see many van and RV nomads parked along the beach here. It is a great place to meet new friends and enjoy the surf.
Refugio State Beach
Refugio State Beach is a secluded beach located a few miles north of Santa Barbara. It offers beachfront parking and is a good place to go surfing. The state beach has restrooms, showers, and camping.
Visit: Refugio State Beach
Oceana Dunes SVRA
Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve is located 3 miles south of Pismo Beach and is one of the most expansive coastal dunes left in California. The preserve offers the opportunity to camp or park directly on the beach.
You can drive your van or RV right on the beach which is a real treat in California. This is one of my favorite spots to camp out for a week and enjoys all that van life has to offer.
Morro Rock Beach
Morro Rock Beach makes a great destination for any van or RV nomad looking to spend some time exploring Morro Bay. There is a big parking lot that offers several beachfront parking spots. You can choose spots on the ocean or harbor inlet side.
Just down the road is Morro State Park which is a great place to explore and go hiking.
Visit: Morro Bay State Park