Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog


Southern California's Beach Guide

TravelShannon Guerrero2 Comments

i have been spending an awfully lot of time on the beach lately.  I guess it’s hard to stay away from the beach when you live in sunny (well, not currently) Southern California.  Funny enough, I live about 10 minutes from the beach and for the most part don’t really go.  

There are so many beaches to choose from in Southern California.  Sure, there are a ton of small, local beaches you can hit up but I thought I’d breakdown the 10 most popular Southern California beaches from Malibu to Laguna Beach.  Each beach offers its own unique twist whether its a fire pit, scenic views or is just an experience like Venice Beach.  If you haven’t already, here’s your chance to check them all out:


Located in Malibu, El Matador beach is a hotspot for photoshoots.  Yes, people do come here to go to the beach, but the beach is located down multiple flights of staircases at the bottom of the cliffs.   There are no restrooms on the beach and the sand isn’t very wide.  However, this beach is extremely scenic.  The giant boulders make this beach very photogenic.  You will absolutely see at least 5 photoshoots happening while you’re here because it’s just that beautiful of a beach, especially at sunset.


Zuma Beach in Malibu is probably my favorite beach near Los Angeles.  The mood just feels way more laid back when you reach Malibu which is how I like my beach experiences to be.  I don’t want any gimmicky attractions or an influx of tourists when I'm laying on the beach, so Zuma is the perfect location.  The beach itself and its surroundings are picture perfect.  The pastel palette of the sand and water are surrounded by towering cliffs making it oh so pretty to look at while sunbathing.  Parking is much easier than some of the other beaches in this list.  If you try to parallel on the street, you probably won’t find parking unless you’re extremely lucky.  Don’t worry, though, head to the end and just pay for parking in the large lot.


The Santa Monica Pier lies at the end of Route 66.  I think it’s one of the most iconic images people think of when they think of Los Angeles, of course, behind the Hollywood sign.  The Santa Monica beach is a great location due to its proximity to a plethora of restaurants and activities.  The Pier has a bunch of rides and carnival games for families.  

Personally, it’s not my beach of choice because the sand is really wide and it it usually crowded, but like I said there are so many great things about Santa Monica that make this beach worth while!  If you go to the beach off of Main Street, just south of the pier, it’s much less crowded and more enjoyable.


Just south of Santa Monica, a visit to Venice Beach is an experience in itself.  The boardwalk is full of unique people and attractions and I mean unique.  Walking down the boardwalk, you’ll find yourself at the infamous Muscle Beach where you find large bodybuilders at work.  Where Arnold Schwarzenegger, himself, used to hang out and pump iron. The palm trees that line the beach and rock wall, make this beach the ideal beach scene.  After the beach, grab some food on Abbot Kinney.


Not know for being an all-star beach, most people head to Dockweiler for its beach fire pits. The fire pits are first come, first serve.  So, getting here early during the day is a must as they do fill up quickly.  Dockweiler is one of the only places around Los Angeles to have an open bonfire on the beach and I love bonfires.  Who can say know to a melty, ooey-gooey s’more?


Manhattan Beach seems like your typical All-American beach town.  It’s a hotspot for beach volleyball and surfing.  The main area is at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard.  There are tons of great restaurants and cute boutique shops in this area.  Manhattan Beach is one of my favorite places to spend the day.  Grab some lunch at the Kettle, head to the beach and then do a little shopping before heading home. Parking can be tricky here.


Long Beach is less of a beach town and is home to the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the second busiest container port in the US.  I definitely think more about the attractions here than the beach.  The Pike and second street are great places to find shopping and restaurants.


Huntington Beach is a great beach town in Orange County.  The surf culture here is strong giving it a trademark title of Surf City.  The main area which is fittingly called Main Street has a ton of delicious restaurants.  If you're craving sushi, hit up Sushi On Fire.  They have some of the best rolls I've ever had.  It definitely can get pretty crowded here, but heading away from the pier may be less populated.


The Newport Beach lifestyle is the epitome of beach living.  I've spent many a weekend hoping from one friend's beach house to the next playing games and hanging out.  This is very much a walk or bike around town.  The people are friendly and the beach is inviting.  The Ruby's at the end of the pier is a fun spot to grab a bite.  If you have time, check out Balboa Island.  It's the cutest little town for families.


I just found one of my favorite beaches and it is located in the great Laguna Beach.  Victoria beach is just south of Laguna Niguel.  If you walk down the stairs and go just to the right, on a low-tide day, you'll come across a castle tower on the water.  It's everything you would imagine a beach Rapunzel scene would look like.  Of course, all of the other beaches in Laguna are just as scenic.  Laguna Niguel is particular cute full of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

5 Places That Will Make You Fall in Love With Italy

TravelShannon GuerreroComment
5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

I hold a special place in my heart for Italy.  I spent a summer studying abroad in Rome right before my junior year in college.  And while I’d seriously love to sit here and discuss why everyone should study abroad - since I've not only studied abroad once, but twice - I’ll save that for another time. While studying in Rome, I was lucky enough to get to visit a good amount of the country on weekends.  I really feel like I got to take in the country as a whole and not just a city or two for a few days.  I got to spend weeks roaming through Italy falling more in love with every place I visited. Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Sicily.  Each place was beautiful.  Really you could go anywhere in Italy and fall in love, but I’ve chosen 5 places that made me fall in love with Italy.


Rome is what dreams are made of.  Really, living in Rome was like a fantasy.  I saw the Coliseum everyday (twice a day in fact) since it was on my way to and from school.  Every corner of every street seemed to have a hundred year old story just waiting to be told.  The Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum and the Vatican are all such spectacular sights.  We've all had those moments where something so famous and highly recommended can disappoint, but everything in Rome lived up to its reputation if not exceeded them.  Spend as much time as you can here and soak it all in!

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?


If you decide to travel anywhere besides the main cities of Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, make it Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre is a small region near Pisa made up of 5 small towns along the coast.  Cinque Terre actually literally means five lands in Italian.  They are the most quaint little towns.  You can hike between the 5 cities, which takes a few hours.  I’d estimate about 4 hours in total.  The longest hike, which is the one I did, is between the fourth and fifth cities, Vernazza and Monterosso.  Vernazza (pictured above) was my personal favorite.  Its brightly colored homes were such a juxtaposition against the mountain meeting the ocean.  The hike takes you along the coast through vineyards nestled in the side of the mountain with breathtaking views.  It’s not super strenuous but did take about 2 hours.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?


Florence is in so many ways just like a miniature version of Rome.  All of the niceties of a thriving Italian city without all the hustle and bustle of a busy city.  If you have the time make sure you climb to the top of the Duomo.  Its 463 steps and a little tiring, but so worth the beautiful views. Don’t miss the leather market.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?


The Amalfi Coast is just as you would imagine it.  It has some of the most picturesque views I’ve ever experienced.  The blue of the water was unreal.  I visited Naples, Sorrento and Capri.  I’d say Naples is somewhere to not spend much time.  If you get a chance to go to Capri, take a boat cruise and visit the blue grotto.  You won’t regret it.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?


My absolute favorite thing to do in Venice is to get lost.  I mean put the map away and just wander.  You really don’t know the amazing things you can find when you’re simply just taking in the scenery and not worrying about the end destination.  It's really easy to find your way back too.  Just listen for the bells from St. Marks Square and follow them.  Venice is such an amazing place and you can help be think about how awesome it is that a whole city was built on water.  A canal ride is a must, trust me its so much better than the ones at the Venetian in Vegas.

I've been dying to plan a trip back to Italy to visit these places again and experience that feeling of awe one more time.  It's so hard though since I want to go everywhere.  Go somewhere where I've already been and loved or go to a brand new place in the world?  The jury's still out for that one.  Point is, if you haven't been to Italy, go now.  You'll fall in love with the people, the land, the culture and the history guaranteed.

Yours Truly // Shannon