Even with more than 70 miles of sun-kissed beaches, Los Angeles County seems to hold a grudge against bonfires. Only Playa del Rey’s Dockweiler Beach
allows open flames. The good news: this 3-mile slice of coast is among the most scenic stretches of sand, explaining why it’s been a favored filming location for the silver screen. The 67 fire rings scattered along the shoreline are always abuzz with activity. Stake out a pit early, work up some punchy flames, and watch as hang gliders soar overhead, surfers carve up the beachbreak, and jumbo jets fly thrillingly low on their way in and out of adjacent LAX. After gorging on s’mores, kick back and wait for the stars to begin glinting as the fiery sunset fades to black. It’s nature’s way of easing sugary indigestion.
Take Imperial Hwy. westbound and cross Vista del Mar into the Dockweiler State Beach parking lot. Expect to pay between $3 and $10 regardless of your California State Beach pass. (The state leases the beach to the county.) Or find ample free parking along Vista del Mar. The beach is open from dawn to 10:00 p.m. No dogs.