Here you'll find information on Southern California travel options to get you to your beach vacation, whether by air, by rail, by road or by sea.
There are basically 5 Southern California commercial airports serving the coastal areas. In San Diego County there is the San Diego International Airport - Lindbergh Field. This is the most convenient spot to fly into for beach destinations in San Diego, La Jolla, Coronado and possibly Laguna Beach and San Clemente, if you don't mind an extra 1 to 2 hour drive, depending on traffic.
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In Orange County there is the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. This is convenient to Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, San Clemente and Laguna Beach. It's also referred to as the Orange County airport.
Further north in Los Angeles County there is the Long Beach Airport, which is situated about halfway between the Orange County Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. It is smaller than the latter, with only a few commercial airlines. It is convenient for trips to Long Beach and Catalina (via the ferry terminal in Long Beach).
Then there is LAX, or Los Angeles International Airport, the grand daddy of Southern California airports. Located very near the coast, Santa Monica is just to the northwest, and Malibu further on.
Santa Barbara County has the Santa Barbara Airport, a smaller airport served by a few commercial airlines.
While Santa Barbara Airport has limited domestic flights, and you can transfer from LAX, you can also find nonstop flights to certain U.S. cities. While many people choose to fly to LAX and drive the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 hours, you can also find competitive rates flying directly to Santa Barbara and saving yourself a lot of hassle. This airport is also convenient for Ventura beach vacations (about a half hour's drive.)
Taking the Greyhound Bus is another Southern California travel option for reaching some of the beach destinations. There are Greyhound stations located in San Diego, San Clemente, Long Beach, Ventura and Santa Barbara.
The 101 freeway is the fastest main artery serving the California Coast north of Los Angeles, including Ventura and Santa Barbara. In the San Fernando Valley, the 405 splits off from the 101 and takes you down to the 10 which goes directly to Santa Monica.
Further down the 405, you can access most LA beaches, including Long Beach. It continues through Orange County, with exits leading to Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach. It later joins up with the Interstate 5 freeway, accessing San Clemente, and all the beaches from there down to San Diego.
For a slower but more scenic route, Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) snakes along the entire California coast, veering inland at times.
If you have a hybrid car with an HOV sticker on the back, you can drive in the carpool lane, (a big plus in congested traffic in Southern California,) even without passengers. Plus, you're saving on astronomical gas prices and not polluting the air so much either.
Amtrak is the main passenger train serving Southern California travelers. The Pacific Surfliner is one line that goes along the coast from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. The Coast Starlight goes down the coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles. Some of the beach towns it serves include San Diego, San Clemente, (then it goes inland through Los Angeles), Ventura and Santa Barbara.
For a dramatic arrival, cruise ships dock at San Diego, Long Beach/San Pedro and Catalina. Or, if you can skipper your own boat or come with someone who can, most beach areas have marinas with guest slips available. More about California cruises.Home > Find So Cal Beaches > Travel Options
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