Where To (Legally) Bonfire & BBQ on the Beach in L.A.

published Aug 7, 2013
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Last month, air quality regulators in Southern California approved the first-ever restrictions on the summer-lovin’ bonfires that have come to define our coastline. Luckily for Angelenos, the restrictions don’t affect the only two beaches in the county where public bonfires are still legal: Dockweiler and Cabrillo. Let the beach BBQs commence!

Dockweiler State Beach If you’ve ever taken your bike down The Strand (officially called the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, a 22-mile path that runs between Pacific Palisades and Redondo Beach), you likely would’ve passed this 3-mile stretch of shoreline in the middle that’s famous for its fire rings — all 50 of them! (The actual number varies and though we’ve never counted them, sources say there are between 48 and 60 of the county-managed concrete pits.) The atmosphere at Dockweiler is lively and loud, and if you want to be able to bonfire on the weekend, you’ll have to claim your pit early in the morning (or wait around for another group to relinquish their pit). The fire rings are open from dawn until 10 pm. 12000 Vista del Mar, Playa del Rey. Free street parking on Vista del Mar, or pay $3 to $10 at one of various pay lots. California State Parks passes are not valid here as the county leases the beach from the state.

Cabrillo Beach Most people in LA don’t even realize there are fire pits in the South Bay (the furthest south you can go before you hit the Port of LA), and that’s what makes this beach so attractive for more intimate gatherings. But with fewer than a dozen fire pits available, it means you’ll have to come early on the weekend to stake out a pit. Cabrillo itself is a sandy beach, but since it’s part of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it’s surrounded by tall cliffs and a rocky reef that’s perfect for tidepooling. Time your visit with the Grunion Run, when the silvery fish come ashore at night to lay their eggs. The nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium occasionally hosts “Meet the Grunion” events throughout the summer. Beach hours are 5 am to 10 pm. 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro. Free street parking in the neighborhood, or pay $1 per hour (up to $9 maximum per day) in the beach parking lot.

(Image: Lowe R. Llaguno/Shutterstock)