Spot Check: Leo Carrillo

Leo Carrillo — The public beach with private appeal. Nobody like a basic beach, which is why it's well worth your while to work your way down the PCH, past Santa Monica, beyond Malibu, in your quest to the quintessential stretch of California coastline, Leo Carrillo. If crowds aren't your thing, this is the one to consider. Sometimes, people will throw out highly romanticized recommendations on where to go, what to see, and upon arrival, lackluster reviews...this is not one of them. From the moment you park and walk up to the access, which can go left or right (depending on you wanting the bigger stretch or the cove), it's almost like a time machine. There's no immediate or bizarre structures, excess noise etc. In many way, this beach is basically the way it always was. Amazing features with a fraction of the crowds. 


Leo Carrillo truly has that old-time California charm, like something right out of the movies (and it's appeared in many movies, but we'll get to that later). The public beach with private appeal. You can't really go wrong with SoCal beaches, but if you're seeking some solitude with a beach experience unlike any offered near Santa Monica, Leo Carrillo has you covered

VARIETY: Like we said, Leo Carrillo is no basic beach. Here you'll find excellent waves if surfing's your game, with a unique landscape, perfect for you next family photo. Featuring coastal caves, and killer rock formations, in many ways, it provides some Goonies vibes. Bring some good shoes, and walk along the rocks, or settle in for the perfect sunset. Also enjoyable are the picnic areas because let's be honest, there's really little to admire settling in for a snack, and getting that gratuitous bite of sand that SOMEHOW (inevitably) made its way into the mix.

KID-FRIENDLY: Phenomenal spot for your little ones, Leo Carrillo has shallow stretches for wading in the water, as well as particularly good tide pools, where starfish and all manner of sea creature can be found. 

DOG-FRIENDLY: Traveling with your four-legged friend? No worries, dogs are welcome. Offering a a designated stretch (North of Lifeguard Tower 3), it's the perfect place to bring your pal for a day of sun, sand, sanctuary.


In addition to providing a unique and picturesque setting for your next beach day, the history at Leo Carrillo is equally endearing. I mean, if you were Johnny, high school bully/Cobra Kai badass, where else would you take your lackeys for a late night 'dirtbikes-on-the-beach' dalliance — looking to win back your former flame, served with a side of roundhouse kick to the new kid in town? Leo Carrillo, of course. And what better location for an equal-parts tailored and tough T-Bird to let down his guard for some 'Summer Lovin' with the Land Down Under's very own Sandra Dee? Perhaps you're looking to catch some waves while catching feelings? Worked for Gidget and Moondoggie. 

  • Gidget (1959)
  • Grease (1978)
  • Karate Kid (1984)
  • Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
  • 50 First Dates (2004)
  • Psycho Beach Party (2000)
  • The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996)
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)

PRO-TIP: When considering a day at Leo Carrillo, go to Malibu Seafood on the way. It's awesome! Situated perfectly along the PCH, it's the perfect place to get your grub on before gettin' your sun on. Don't be intimidated by the line, these people have the system dialed so you can be dining in no time. There's really can't go wrong with the menu, but if we had to make a recommendation? Fish and Chips! Don't be deterred by the rectangular cuboid shape, just dunk away in the dill dipping sauce. It's delicious!