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While the surf and sand is definitely the best part of any beach vacation, you’ll also want to allow plenty of time to explore the charming beach towns on the California coast. Some of the main streets in these towns are true treasures filled with great bars, coffee shops, dining establishments, boutiques and mom and pop shops you won’t want to miss out on.

These Southern California towns all have Main Streets worth stepping off the sand to see.


encinitas 2

Encinitas was named one of the 20 best surf towns in the world by National Geographic (related: best places to surf in California), and it’s easy to see why. The neighborhood’s eclectic downtown area is a colorful hippie paradise full of coffeehouses, surf shops and old school record stores.

San Clemente

196448_143531105790155_1153588786_nSan Clemente DBA

Often called the Spanish Village by the Sea, San Clemente’s Avenida del Mar combines Mediterranean architecture with modern amenities. Some of the best dining in Orange County can be found here.

Seal Beach

oCity of Seal Beach Yelp

Seal Beach’s Main Street is located right next to the pier, making this laid back beach city nice and walkable. The small town atmosphere feels welcoming and cozy, and you’ll find restaurants, shops and art galleries for all tastes and budgets.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica, January 21, 2007 (by Kent Kanouse)Kent Kanouse / Flickr

In Santa Monica, the Third Street Promenade is the place to go for shopping, dining, and good old-fashioned people watching. Since this strip is a pedestrian only area, you’ll see lots of street performers and live entertainment here.


Entry Old Town(1)-2696078004The City of Temecula / Flickr

Stepping onto Main Street in Old Town Temecula feels like being transported back in time. The wineries, antique shops and local eateries are a nice break from the outside world. Temecula isn’t located on the coast, but it’s not far from San Clemente.


DSC_0414-10698903715Andy Blackledge / Flickr

Located on Catalina Island, Avalon’s main streets are pristine and charming, especially Crescent Avenue, which runs along the waterfront of Avalon Bay. It’s no wonder this is such a popular vacation destination.



When you visit Coronado, head down the picturesque Orange Avenue, which has a classic “Main Street USA” feel. The Orange Avenue district offers plenty of small business options since the city discourages chain stores.