Beachcombing: Know your Southern California beaches!

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This story is part of our summer series "Beachcombing," in which KPCC reporters will explore the ecology, economy and culture of Southern California's beaches and coast. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on KPCC's Facebook page.

With this post KPCC begins a look at the best, most popular or most awesome beaches in Southern California. We've picked five that we think merit a visit, but we want to know what YOUR picks are! Let us know in the comments, send us a photo, post on our Facebook page or tweet us @KPCC with the hashtag #Beachcombing.

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Pismo Beach

Bugs Bunny once hit a well-documented detour while searching for California's Central Coast gem, Pismo Beach.

The promised land of clams — located in San Luis Obispo County — is 60 acres of regional beach, pier, promenade, creek and dunes. The family-fit Pismo is also a destination ripe with local wineries, ruled by majestic Monarchs and ready to the celebrate the clam by the bucketful.

Keep current with surf, weather and water temperature reports when planning a pilgrimage. And don't forget to bring your own waveforms — Here's a starter track for your will-dig Pismo playlist. (READ MORE)

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San Buenaventura State Beach

The "City of Good Fortune," San Buenaventura's state beach suns itself near two significant, historic landmarks in Ventura:

Shell out $10 to get into the park for access to dozens of bike trails, hiking trails, scenic routes, and two miles of sandy beach and dunes. Then shell out for oystersThe "Mission Impossible" theme should lead any mix you make for the occasion. 

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Manhattan Beach 

The density of ESPN-quality eye candy makes Manhattan Beach a sweet place to hang out. Boasting a population of professional athletes, the town also plays host the events like the International Surf Festival and the Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament.

Between the chance encounters with chiseled perfection be sure to find time to engage your inner (and outer) athlete on the beach. Over 50 volleyball nets are set up on the sand for both public and private use and the two mile "Strand" is open to runners and bikers.

If walking is more your style, you’ll have plenty opportunity with the location's notoriously difficult parking. Let this Jock Jams, Vol. 1 classic be your inspirational soundtrack. 

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El Matador State Beach

The sign is easy to miss. The beach is hard to forget. 

Hidden in plain sight off the side of Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu’s rocky, romantic and film-ready El Matador State Beach is a secluded alcove painted with cliffs and arches making it one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California. 

Park for free along PCH or for $8 in the lot. Walk the trail to the edge of a 150-foot high bluff overlooking the beach and hike down the path. It's steep, so wear comfortable shoes. And plan ahead — no restrooms (or anything else, for that matter) once you hit the sand.

Can anyone see a rocky beach without thinking of "Grease?" 

No.

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Carlsbad State Beach

Scenic cliffs and marine life welcome you to these San Diego beaches maintained by the California State Parks DepartmentIf you're bringing your own wildlife, keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on Carlsbad beaches but leashed pups are are permitted on the city’s trail system. 

Popular surfing destinations Tamarack, Warm Water Jetty, and Terramar are located near the lagoon. Craft beer and banana waffles are but a stroll away. And a recent gift from the Friends of Cardiff & Carlsbad State Beaches means the staircase off Poinsettia Avenue is getting a makeover. 

A San Diego soundtrack can go one of two ways. Choose wisely.

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