Hit the Beach, Baby

Summer may be winding down, but there’s still plenty of time to make a splash. Lucky for all of us in Los Angeles County, there are plenty of family friendly beaches on our beautiful coastline from which to choose.

From best water quality to tips on ocean safety to things to do, we checked in with Los Angeles experts for some of their best advice for family beachgoers.

Before hopping in the car, bus or catching Metro’s new Expo line to Santa Monica, experts suggest that parents consider the ocean water quality and conditions for that day to help select a beach to enjoy.

“We advise parents with young children to check out our Beach Report Card, which is a weekly grading methodology where we grade beaches throughout California on a scale from A to F based on their water quality. We also have an on the go app called Beach Report Card,” explained Nick Colin, Communications Manager at Heal the Bay. “It’s a good way to protect your little ones and be aware of any possible health concerns.”

“The good news is that we’ve been seeing a lot of A and B grades for water quality at all our beaches this summer,” Colin added.

The Los Angeles Fire Department, Lifeguard Division provides a way to search for beach conditions that’s free, and that everyone has access to at home or on their smartphones, which is their website along with their Twitter: @lacolifeguards,

“The good news is that we’ve been seeing a lot of A and B grades for water quality at all our beaches this summer” -Nick Colin

“Every morning, at 7 a.m., we post the surf conditions and the tides,” said Kenichi Haskett, Captain of the Lifeguard Division at the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

For parents concerned about their toddlers trying to tackle crashing waves, they will be happy to find an almost secret harbor here in L.A.

“A very charming beach for children is Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey,” Colin said. “It has a small town feel and the waves tend to be a little calmer. It’s not quite as hectic as other beaches.”

If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of sea life or explore tide pools with your children, here’s a pearl of a pleaser.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, adjacent to Palos Verdes, is a beautiful location to expose your little scientist to tide pool life,” Colin said. “There’s also great hiking and some amazing views. If you get the tide right, you can see some really abundant tide pools in the area. Check the tide charts and make sure that you get there at low tide, when the tide pools will be most visible and you’ll also be safest.”

There’s also a plentitude of breathtaking piers to enjoy. Both the Manhattan Beach Pier and the Hermosa Beach Pier offer great views and are pleasant towns to visit.

Venice Beach Pier is also a great place to take the kids to see the fishermen. Then, of course, Santa Monica Beach is the quintessential California beach paradise. Heal the Bay has an aquarium, a marine science center, which is directly under the pier and open every afternoon, except Mondays. It’s an excellent place for children to learn about the animals that live in the bay. Another great aquarium where kids are educated about marine life is located at Redondo Beach and is called the SEA Lab.

A good introductory learning experience is found via the Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation (WATER) Program offered through the Los Angeles County Department of Beach and Harbors.

“Children that attend L.A. County public schools can sign up for Ocean Safety Days at their schools. They learn about ocean safety, where the safe areas to swim are, how to boogie board, surf, kayak and they also have sailing,” Haskett explained.

For those looking to take a family ride on their bikes, there’s a fun bike path from Pacific Palisades all the way South to Playa Del Rey. Parents are reminded to take precaution as some parts of the path can get a little crowded. Consider also taking public transit to the beach. For tips on taking young kids on local fun train rides, check out these YouTube videos by AllAboardFun.

Another reminder: leave Fido at home. While many kids love to bring their furry friends along, L.A. County beaches do not allow dogs.

Once you arrive on the sandy golden beaches, our experts have some excellent safety tips for your family.

“Children need to be in an environment that’s safe. We recommend parents check in with a lifeguard at an open tower to ask what area of the beach is safest to swim. Our lifeguards are very knowledgeable and trained extensively on the topography of the ocean. They can tell you the areas that are away from currents,” Haskett explained.

To avoid accidents, the Lifeguard Division reminds children not to swim near jetties.

Finally, parents should put their family on the map. The beach map, that is.

“A lot of our lifeguards end up helping lost children. It’s important to point out to your child where you are and what (lifeguard) tower number you are by,” said Lidia Barillas, spokeswoman for the Lifeguard Division of the L.A. County Fire Department. If they get lost, it will be easy for a child to remember this. It’s also helpful to explain to children that the lifeguards are the people with the red shorts and are safe to talk to and that they can help.”

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