12 Coastal Walks to Take When L.A. Empties Out for the Holidays

You’ll have Point Dume all to yourself

California Coastal Trail

The California Coastal Trail stretches 1,200 miles between Mexico and Oregon, and guess what lands close to sort of smack dab in the middle of that length? A stretch of Malibu’s pristine public beaches. Begin and El Matador and head north to La Piedra and El Pescador beaches for an easy 2.5 mile round trip.

The Strand

Yes, it’s a long-ish eight-mile round trip from the Manhattan Beach Pier to the Redondo Beach Pier. But besides being perhaps the easiest stroll of your life, you’ll have a stellar view of the ocean all the way, plus options for plenty of food and drink (some standouts: Manhattan Beach Creamery, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, Palmilla Cocina y Tequila, Churros-Pier Bakery).

Seascape Trail

For an easy 1.5-mile jaunt with bonkers views of the Pacific and Catalina Island, head to the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The physical effort required is minimal but the visual payoff is at a maximum, which the holiday weekend sweet spot.

Solstice Canyon and Rising Sun Trail

The hilly trek along the Solstice Canyon and Rising Sun Trail could double as Hobbiton, if Hobbiton had ocean views and was in a drought, like we are. The three-mile loop through National Park Service land will also take you past a babbling brook, through some coastal sage scrub, and even past the remains of the Keller House, a century-old cabin that was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 2007.

Santa Monica Boardwalk

It’s true that the Santa Monica boardwalk is madness and nigh unbearable most of the time. But remember: It’s Chrismukkah. No one—or at least very few people—will be there. Take advantage by strolling its seven miles north or south (we recommend starting at the Santa Monica Pier and heading south, which will take you past the Venice boardwalk, Muscle Beach, and that cool bookstore you’ve seen 1,000 times but have never actually walked into).

Sara Wan Trail

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Nestled in Corral Canyon—a 100-acre stretch in Malibu—this 2.5-mile loop through a small marsh and local sagebrush ends in a mesa with breathtaking views of Point Dume and Palos Verdes. Bonus: it’s pup-friendly.

Ocean View Trail

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With a name like that, you pretty much know what you’re getting into (but in case you’re still confused, you’ll get Zuma Canyon’s vistas of the Pacific from above Point Dume and Zuma Beach). Pair it with the Canyon View Trail—guess what you’ll see?—for a quick three mile loop.

Point Dume

This stretch of rocky beach off the Pacific Coast Highway is as secluded as it is stunning, which is probably why you’ll see anywhere from 3 to 487 couples taking engagement photos there at any given time. Park on Cliffside Drive and head down the metal staircase to the sand below and head west. Meander all the way to Little Dume and back for a two-mile round trip.

Paseo Miramar Trail

On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the ocean and all the way to downtown L.A. from this lookout point in Topanga Canyon State Park high above the Pacific Palisades. Full disclosure: said lookout point requires more hiking than walking—it’s about seven miles up to the tippy top of Parker Mesa Overlook, which is admittedly aggressive. But like—check out that vista.

Los Liones Trail

If your legs just can’t take the idea of a seven-mile climb to the Parker Mesa Overlook, consider the abridged version, aka Los Liones Trail. After 1.3 miles and 550-feet of elevation you’ll end up at a scenic plateau with a bench, where you can catch your breath or contemplate your navel or consider how to gently tell your Aunt Sara that you still hate chenille sweaters because you’re not about that Limited Too circa 1997 life, so yes, you’ll be needing the gift receipt.

Tuna Canyon Park Trail

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This path may be shorter than Paseo Miramar by about two miles, but with viewpoints at an elevation of 1,500 feet, your life is going to get super sweaty super fast. One perk of finishing it out: You can linger at a rock labyrinth built at the end of the trail. Thighs will cry out, calories will burn, Instagram dreams will come true. It’s all worth it.

Temescal Canyon Trail

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As SNL’s Stefon might say, this three-mile walk in the Pacific Palisades has everything: panoramic views of the Pacific, a wooded canyon, a waterfall that might actually be flowing thanks to some recent rainfall (#ChrismukkahMiracle), MTV’s Dan Cortes. What more could you ask for?

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