Among the most iconic and beautiful beaches in the Los Angeles area, Santa Monica State Beach is a destination for locals and tourists looking for a broad variety of recreational opportunities. With its Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and carnival-style games and food booths, Santa Monica Pier is perhaps the most recognizable feature along the beach; while it may feel a little kitschy for some, any visit to Santa Monica State Beach would be incomplete without at least a walk down to the end of this venerable attraction.
Once you've made that visit, however, be sure to budget a little time to explore the rest of this king-sized beach, because there is so much more to do. Santa Monica State Beach is 3 miles long, a perfect distance for a there-and-back walk or run right on the edge of the Santa Monica Bay. This bay has come a long way from its historically tragic levels of pollution stemming from urban sewage and storm runoff, and wildlife and water-based recreation are both returning to form. Surfing, swimming, and stand-up paddleboarding are all popular in the bay, and rental opportunities and lessons abound in the area. You'll see several lifeguard towers along the beach; these are manned somewhat seasonally and hours vary, but you can count on a consistent presence in the peak season.
Beach volleyball is a huge tradition here, as are the games at the International Chess Park. A stroll or roll down the 5.2-mile bike path that stretches from Will Rogers State Beach to Venice Beach is a Southern California classic, and you can rent bikes and skates from the shops near the pier. And, of course, there is plenty of available acreage if your ambitions are just to spread out a towel and soak up some sun.
Visitors will find public restrooms and showers available throughout the beach and open from 5 a.m. to dusk. Near the pier there are ADA-accessible paths leading onto the beach, and all-terrain wheelchairs are also available from Perry's Cafe as well.