The Wedge, a surf-hot spot in Newport Beach, has been dedicated to all things surf since 1936. It's also made several appearances in television and pop culture throughout the years—anybody remember The Endless Summer?
Head 33 miles west of Santa Barbara, and you'll hit Gaviota Beach. It's not just a place to play in the sand—with Los Padres National Forest to the left, there's no shortage in hiking trails, hot springs, or places to pitch tent.
Some of the best beaches were (and still are) just a train ride away from the big city. This particular one, Jacob Riis Beach—otherwise known as "The People's Park"—has been a popular spot for all New York residents.