Santa Monica beaches have it all - 3.5 miles of soft sand shoreline, picnic areas, parks, playgrounds, manned lifeguard stations, the Original Muscle Beach, bike rentals, and sports galore. In the middle of it all lies the city's main attraction, the iconic Santa Monica Pier.
In addition to the Pier, other attractions found along the beach include the Santa Monica Aquarium, the Annenberg Beach House, the International Chess Park, and Carousel Park -a historic landmark replete with wooden horses and sleighs to ride for kids of all ages.
This guide will help you plan what to see and do at the beach.
Santa Monica State Beach spans 245 acres of sand along Santa Monica Bay and is home to the world famous 'Strand" linking colorful Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
It's along the Strand that you'll find the popular beach bike path and pedestrian path; both are especially active during summer months. The trail runs 5.2 miles from Will Rogers State Beach to the north to Venice Beach to the south.
To give you even more time to work on your tan, Perry's Cafe now offers Beach Butler service at two of its Santa Monica Locations.
The butler package includes two beach chairs and two beach towels, umbrella, personal cooler with two bottles of water (wind block available).
For an additional charge, your butler will hand deliver tanning products, beach toys, and a full array of rentals ranging from extra chairs to boogie board rentals, chilled beverages, and even food from their award-winning menu so you will never have to leave your towel.
When you are ready to leave, however, they do the cleanup, so you don't have to.
Nearby, the Santa Monica Bike Center offers 350 secure bicycle parking spaces, bike rental, repair, and 2 hours free valet bike parking. You'll also find a variety of guided bike tours.
Surfing and SUP! (stand up paddle boarding) are two popular Santa Monica water sports. There are plenty of lessons that offer beginners an introduction to surfing in Southern California. See the City of Santa Monica authorized surf instructors.
Santa Monica and Venice beach tours ($84 per person +tax) and Santa Monica Twilight Tours ($69 per person +tax) are available through Segway.la, located at 1660 Ocean Avenue.
Beach volleyball is a favorite sport in Santa Monica. Volleyball courts on the sand are found both north and south of the Pier, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
South of the Pier, you'll find the Original Muscle Beach (featuring gymnastics equipment), that was popular during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s among muscle mean and preening bathing beauties.
You'll find it just south of the pier. Athletic equipment including rings, parallel bars, balance bars are available at no charge.
Nearby at Ocean Front Walk at Seaside Terrace, you'll also find the International Chess Park, featuring 14 large tables with four chessboards per table; 10 small tables each with a single chess board, and an oversized chess board.
There are four public parks on the beach, each offering family friendly-amenities:
The Santa Monica Pier is a world-class destination for fun.
Here you can enjoy soaring ocean views from Pacific Park's Ferris wheel (it's solar powered!), ride a kid-friendly roller coaster, try your hand at more than 200 games at the arcade, or take a class at the trapeze school.
The Annenberg Beach House is a public facility offering the beach club experience to all, no membership required. Low- or no-cost fitness classes, recreation programs, and cultural events, and beach bike rentals are offering year-round.
Here you'll find a historic swimming pool, a children's playground and splash pad, and the Marion Davies Guest House, offering docent tours. Parking reservations can be made online June through September at Reserve Santa Monica.
Enjoying a meal on the beach is a must do when you visit Santa Monica. There are lots of quick-bite options for beach-goers looking to grab a to-go bag before settling into the sand.
Inexpensive Santa Monica eats can be found at Perry's Cafe and Beach Rentals, Back on the Beach Cafe, along with numerous options along the Pier and Santa Monica boardwalk.
There is so much to see and do under the sun in Santa Monica, the hardest part about a visit to Santa Monica is choosing which of many options to choose!
Looking for a Santa Monica beach hotel? This guide to Santa Monica beach hotels can help.