California Beaches - A Place to Chill

Mission Beach, San Diego

I love exploring the Rocky Mountains of Colorado but it was nice to encounter the Pacific Ocean during our recent trip to southern California. We managed to hit a few beaches and it was surprising to discover how different they were from each other.

Each beach seemed to have its own, unique personality based on the type of people, waves and scenery that distinguished it from the others. There were also similarities between them that went far beyond the obvious basics of salt, sea and sand.

A common theme running through each visit was the sublime sunsets, persistent seagulls and tight parking. I’m not sure I could survive for very long in the Golden State as the behavior there is unbelievably intense but maybe you just get used to it.

Fast-paced traffic is a fitting symbol for the frenetic, California lifestyle but the beach is someplace where everybody slows down. The hypnotic nature of the crashing waves seems to chill all of those restless natives.

Mission Beach down in San Diego was probably my favorite because I was able to get out on the sand early, before the crowds arrived. The morning skies are overcast and the air is cool as a pink sunrise permeates the gray clouds. The water is warm with choppy waves that pound the shoreline with relentless force.

Early morning before the crowds

Overcast skies

Seal Beach is a local hangout so it’s not quite as touristy as many of the others. The wide stretch of sand offers plenty of space and relief from the sizzling interior. The water is dark and cold as the swells recycle in a nice rhythm. There’s a rickety, old pier stretching into the ocean that’s a favorite perch for opportunistic sea gulls.

Dark, cold water

Persistent sea gulls

Newport Beach is a glamorous locale brimming with beautiful people. The water is a bit colder but the smooth waves are perfect for boogie-boarding. The wooden pier is superb for watching the yellow sun disappear in an instant. After dark, the party really gets started as this oceanside resort enjoys a vibrant nightlife.

A beautiful, wooden pier

Superb sunset

Venice Beach is a trip. This place is a tourist’s delight as the atmosphere overloads all five senses. It’s pure California with bright colors, big crowds and cool characters around every corner. The green waves are tremendous as they curl over on top and crash into a rocky outcrop. Featuring fitness, shopping and surf, Venice is a diverse community with something for everyone.

A tourist's delight

Pure California

Tremendous waves


  1. I grew up near Seal Beach, so it's the one I visited most, except for Long Beach. Funny, I lived a few minutes from Venice for nine years, but never made it to the beach there. It's a shame you missed our central coast beaches, like Moonstone in Cambria. That's my go-to beach now, but the water is cold there. Asilomar in Pacific Grove near Monterey, and Carmel, are some of our most beautiful beaches. I hope you'll try to see them if you come to California again. I think you will find the Central Coast like a different county than Southern California. The traffic is lighter and people are more laid back.

    1. If we ever make it back, I would definitely like to visit some of those places you mentioned. I would like to see some of the more rugged coastline. It's definitely fast-paced out there but after about a week, we felt like we fit right in.

  2. Hi Dan,

    It's been such a long time since I was last on Twitter, but I still have your artwork displayed, so I wanted to see what you were up to on your blog. I wish I had known you were coming to San Diego; I would've loved to have met in person, even just for a cup of coffee or tea! I so admire your artistry and raw talent. I look forward to seeing more of your future work.

    Take care, my friend! I wish you and your family the very best.


    1. It's great to hear from you. I'm still hanging in there trying to get some artwork done and keeping the blog posts going. It gets difficult because the kids are so busy. We were in California because my oldest son was playing in a basketball tournament out there. I like the mountains here but it was really nice to see the ocean. I hope all is well with you and if you ever happen to get on Twitter again please let me know.



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