The Annenberg Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach is a luxe, 5-acre, ocean-front community center that was an opulent private estate in the 1920s.
This historic beach house, once home to Hollywood royalty, today offers virtually everything under the sun when it comes to beach fun.
It is open year round, and has a varied schedule of cultural programs, classes, docent tours of the Marion Davies guest house, art exhibits, and a pool that is open during the summer.
Fall, winter, and spring offer more contemplative programming including Audubon Society bird walks, Happy Birthday Marion! and Julia Morgan Legacy Tours.
The Guest House is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours begin at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. and are limited to 15 guests. Guest House tours are free, and last about 30 minutes, no reservations required.
What makes the Beach House so special is history. Specifically, Hollywood history. It's here that you can explore the legacy of three remarkable individuals - publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, actress Marion Davies, and architect Julia Morgan.
Hearst built the estate - featuring a mansion of 100-ply rooms and an ornate marble swimming pool - for his silver screen actress mistress, Davies. As with many Hearst projects, the vision of architect Morgan provided a cohesive grace to the rambling estate.
It became a place where Hearst and Davies entertained Hollywood luminaries including Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, and Clark Gable. In 1947, Joseph Drown purchased the property from Davies and converted it into Oceanhouse, a limited-membership beach club.
After the Oceanhouse venture ended, the main mansion was demolished in 1956. The property was sold to the State of California in 1959, continuing to operate as the popular Sand & Sea Club.
In the 1990s, the city of Santa Monica ran the facility, known as '415 PCH' until the 1994 Northridge earthquake severely damaged all the site's structures.
After the earthquake, the city of Santa Monica teamed up with the Annenberg Foundation to rebuild the site for public use. The Beach House opened to the public in April 2009.
The Annenberg Beach House is open year round; Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for youth ages 1 to 17 years; $5 for seniors (60+); no charge for children under 12 months of age.
During the summer, the Beach House is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with the pool open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in October; from November through March, it is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; in April from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Use of most of the facility is free - guests pay for daily pool passes, parking, and to reserve beach volleyball and beach tennis court time.
Pool, parking, and other passes can be purchased online - and often sell out early on summer weekends. Walk up access may be available - but be prepared to wait. For more information, visit the Annenberg website here.
If the lot is full, these Santa Monica parking tips can help you find a spot on the beach near the Annenberg.