15 Dreamy Beach House Rentals in California

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It's the smart leisure traveler's no-brainer: For a memorable vacation destination that's stunning and fun for all ages, book a beach house rental in California. Here, so many miles of ocean- and bay-front properties add up to lots of inventory, and if you search carefully, potential savings. We've searched out some beauties up and down the coast, with amenities that range from beach cruisers to hot tubs. We love that a home rental affords a little more space than a hotel room(s), as well as fewer hidden fees (so long, parking and resort fees).

The 18 Most Charming Beach Towns in Southern California

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Rate: $800/night
  • Why We Love It: historic, ocean views, prime location

This historic stunner features unparalleled ocean views and a gorgeous tiled terrace from which guests can spot all manner of marine life, including dolphins, otters, seals and whales. Plus, the tasteful Spanish revival decor boasts plenty of charm and the location—a peaceful cove that’s within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey and the main drag of Pacific Grove, and just a short drive from Carmel and Big Sur—really can’t be beat.

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Rate: $347/night
  • Why We Love It: family-friendly, close to attractions, water activities

This airy, sundrenched two-bedroom property occupies prime beachfront real estate on Mission Bay, one of San Diego’s most family-friendly destinations. Multiple sprawling patios open up onto the sand (which means the person manning the grill can also be in charge of keeping an eye on the kids building sandcastles just a few feet away). The unit is also in close proximity to other major attractions, including Sea World, Belmont Park, the Mission Beach boardwalk and the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. That said, the luxe modern comfort of this penthouse and the host of water activities that are literally in your backyard (think: jet skiing, windsurfing, sailing and swimming) might make you want to stay put.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Rate: $670/night
  • Why We Love It: scenic views, central location, spacious, family-friendly

If you’re looking to rent a well-appointed and beautifully decorated home that can accommodate a small crowd, this Pacific Beach gem fits the bill. Situated in a calm residential enclave just steps away from the white sandy beaches and all the rest of the action, too. (The neighborhood of Pacific Beach has a bustling commercial strip of thrift stores, boutiques and restaurants, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene.) Best of all, this sleek and generously sized home features three sprawling, west-facing decks with panoramic ocean views, so guests can catch every breathtaking sunset.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Rate: $506/night
  • Why We Love It: large outdoor space, ocean views, spacious interior, impeccable design

The Aquarius is one of only two private homes sitting directly on the pristine beach of Corcoran Lagoon in Santa Cruz and, needless to say, the close proximity to the ocean provides stellar views. The sitting room has large glass windows that look directly out onto the beach and the property’s two well-furnished decks and beautifully landscaped backyard (complete with hot tub and fire pit) also face the ocean. Plus, the bedrooms are spacious, tastefully decorated and accessed by a spiral staircase, which is just plain cool.

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Rate: $285/night
  • Why We Love It: couples retreat, budget-friendly, scenic views

Couples and small families looking for an affordable and comfortable beach rental will find everything they need in this well-appointed, one bedroom guest unit, which boasts wonderful views of both the ocean and Long Beach’s city skyline. Best of all, this charming pad is located steps away from the beach—the home has a private entrance right on the Boardwalk—and within walking distance of the many restaurants and shops of Belmont Shores. (We’d mention the private garage, but you probably won’t be using the car much.)

  • Sleeps: 5
  • Rate: $206/night
  • Why We Love It: budget-friendly, spacious, family-friendly

We’re going to go out on a limb and say you’re unlikely to find a vacation rental in the City of Angels that gives you more bang for your buck than this one. This airy, sunlit guesthouse has a beautiful interior featuring an open studio floor plan and additional lofted sleeping space, but the real draw is the enormous and incredibly private outdoor patio deck, which boasts a bar, commercial grill station, fire pit and so much open space and seating that you could throw a party—provided you make some new friends at the State Beach and Santa Monica promenade, both of which are just steps away.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Rate: $499/night
  • Why We Love It: private beach access, ocean views, peaceful setting

You’d just be swimming if you got any closer to the Pacific Ocean than this incredible Dana Point home, which is located in a gated community situated on a pristine private beach. Head to one of the two oceanfront balconies to watch for dolphins and whales in the Pacific, kick back on the elevated deck to enjoy the sun and the sound of crashing waves or, if you feel so inclined, climb down the ladder that leads directly from said deck to the windswept shore. Bottom line: If the beach is what you want, this unique vacation experience certainly won’t disappoint.

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Rate: $780/night
  • Why We Love It: prime location, couples retreat, spa amenities

For a SoCal experience that’s extra glam, Santa Barbara is the place to go, and this oceanfront suite is where to stay. Located just minutes away from the city’s vibrant and oh-so charming downtown where restaurants, shops and galleries abound—this corner unit boasts 270-degree ocean views and a whole host of spa amenities, including access to an oceanfront saline water pool, spa and lounging area with private, designated chairs, as well as a private aromatherapy steam shower in the suite itself. In other words, this number is more like a five-star boutique hotel rental than a run-of-the-mill homestay, and it serves up luxury in spades.

  • Sleeps: 4
  • Rate: $495/night
  • Why We Love It: tropical vibes, family-friendly, outdoor activities

For a more laid-back vibe, head to this whimsical SoCal bungalow—a true family home with personality to spare (the interior was painted by a prized Disneyland artist) and a prime location that is indeed right on the sand. The combination of tropical vibes and retro, beachy decor will make you feel like you’re in Havana—but it’s the Pacific, not the Caribbean, that you have in your backyard. Thankfully, this charming property provides easy access to a wide range of water activities (jet skiing, boat cruises into town and more), plus all the beach accessories you need to make the most of your stay,

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Rate: $383/night
  • Why We Love It: modern design, prime location, large terrace

Mod design and impeccable interior decorating come together to create a home that’s equal parts funky and fancy, and entirely worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest. (And this all makes sense, considering that Newport Beach is basically a playground for the rich, famous and artistic.) Best of all, this Balboa Island beaut occupies a prime spot on Marine Avenue—a main drag lined with restaurants, boutiques and bars that’s just a couple blocks from the beach—and has a large balcony where you can people-watch with a beverage of choice once you towel off and head home.

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Rate: $648/night
  • Why We Love It: couples retreat, modern design, ocean views

Malibu—another fine place to sunbathe among the rich and famous—is home to this complex of swoon-worthy beachfront units. The swanky property rental in question is an upper-level studio apartment that features a sleek, modern interior with sweeping ocean views that will make you feel like you’re floating above the Pacific. There’s also guest access to a large community deck with a fire pit and ample room to lounge in the lap of luxury. File this one under ‘room with a view.’

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Rate: $189/night
  • Why We Love It: couples retreat, budget-friendly, close to attractions

Natural light floods this modestly sized, boho-chic guest suite in San Fran, which is located within walking distance of some very beautiful coastal areas and local attractions, including Ocean Beach, the Sutro Baths, Lands End and even the Golden Gate. That said, we wouldn’t blame you if you chose to spend the majority of your stay in the outdoor sanctuary—a lush private garden and terrace—that your suite opens onto.

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Rate: $345/night
  • Why We Love It: prime location, ocean views, family-friendly

Del Mar, the jewel of San Diego’s North County, features dramatic cliffs, coastal hiking trails lined with Torrey Pines (the region’s signature tree), a quaint village with high-end shops, spas and restaurants and miles of pristine shoreline with gentle surf. Aside from its enviable location, this spacious and newly renovated rental boasts a separate master suite with an ocean view and private deck, while the two-bedroom main house features a large patio, fireplace and all the equipment you need (i.e., surfboards, umbrellas, beach towels and chairs) to enjoy a day at the beach, which is just a short walk away.

  • Sleeps: 3
  • Rate: $250/night
  • Why We Love It: eco-friendly stay, couples retreat, scenic, close to attractions

This one-bedroom Queen suite in the Northern California enclave of Pacific Grove is an eco-friendly haven with Zen vibes and a lovely, peaceful position atop a hill with views of lush gardens, coastal forest and the Pacific Ocean itself. Amenities include an outdoor kitchenette and walk-in shower with sky window, but it’s the scenic views and close proximity to gorgeous Big Sur hiking trails and other local attractions that make this one a winner.

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Rate: $225/night
  • Why We Love It: historic, couples retreat, modern design, close to attractions

This modern classic—a remodeled 1935 home—was featured in Domino Magazine for its unique retro style, and it does indeed have a perfect combination of historic charm and voguish style. Beyond that, this cozy and sun-drenched bungalow is within walking and biking distance from Monterey Peninsula (there’s a major recreational trail to avail yourself of) and just a short 10-to-15-minute drive away from a whole host of other attractions—including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row—and the neighboring coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove. Suffice it to say, you won’t have any trouble filling your itinerary when you stay at the Mermaid Bungalow.

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Emma Singer

Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...
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