Los Angeles may have a reputation for shocking behavior, but when it comes to going nude in public., Los Angeles County has put a proverbial fig leaf on nude sunbathing. In fact, any mention you see of a nude beach in the LA area is either decades out of date or someone spreading an urban legend.
Nude sunbathing was perfectly legal in LA until the mid-1970s. That's when Bob Opel showed up at a City Council meeting held to discuss a ban on nudity. Opel is best known for streaking (running cross the stage naked) at the Academy Awards. He showed up similarly undressed at the meeting, where children were present. Reportedly, a woman screamed, “Is this what you want?!” The Council subsequently voted 12-1 to ban nudity citywide.
In the twenty-first century, it's not a good idea to be naked in public in Los Angeles, at a beach, or anywhere else. The City of Angels has strict laws about running around outside without clothing. Anyone more than ten years old who is caught au naturel could be arrested or ticketed. Punishment for the offense could including a stiff fine and a court appearance.
You can read the Los Angeles Nudity Law (County Ordinance 17.12.360) to find out all the various body parts that must be covered if you intend to "appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk, change clothes, disrobe or be on any beach."
Clothing Optional Recreation Near Los Angeles
You may find all kinds of information online about nude beaches in the Los Angeles area. They are all incorrect. El Matador, Smuggler's Cove, and Pirate's Cove are sometimes listed, along with Sacred Cove in Palos Verdes.
In fact, if you want to find that private, little-known nude beach where you can disrobe without fear of being arrested, don't go looking for lists online. Local police are likely to put those places at the top of their list of targets for a police patrol.
So if you want to sun worship in the buff near Los Angeles, give these ideas a try:
Go to a nude beach in San Diego County. For many years, the nude beach at San Onofre was the closest one to Los Angeles, but it closed to clothing-optional recreation a few years ago. Now, you'll have to go all the way down to Blacks Beach near La Jolla, which is a well-known and popular place for nude recreation.
Going further south into Mexico isn't a good idea. Public nudity or topless sunbathing in México is illegal.
Visit a Privately-Owned Nudist Resort. You'll find more than a dozen of them in the guide to California nudist resorts. Nudity laws don't apply at these privately owned facilities, and many of them offer overnight lodging and lots of recreational options. Some are near Palm Springs, an easy day-trip drive from Los Angeles.
Join a naturist meetup group. You'll find a few of them at MeetUp.com.
Other Places to Go for Nudist Recreation
If you go north of LA, you'll have to make a long drive. There are no nude beaches in Ventura County, either. In Santa Barbara County, you'll find some beaches that get clothing-optional visitors. However, there are periods when there are lots of arrests and fines for public nudity at a Santa Barbara Beach. Unless you know about the current law enforcement situation, it can be a risk.
Continuing north, to San Luis Obispo County, you'll find some well-regarded nude beaches, but it is at least a three-hour drive from Los Angeles to get there.