Many visitors come to Santa Monica just for the sun-drenched beaches, and with more than 300 sunny days every year, travelers are pretty much guaranteed good weather on a visit to a Santa Monica beach. The city has 3.5 continuous miles of beaches, including the two-mile long Santa Monica State Beach, and the original Muscle Beach to the south.
Santa Monica State Beach is located along the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, and it is the most popular destination for vacationers and families. Going to the beach in Santa Monica can mean different things for different people, but there is no shortage of things to do. For the surfers, going to Santa Monica Beach is an opportunity to catch a wave and browse the surf shops, while beginners try their luck at one of the popular surf schools. Skateboarders hang out on the streets and skateboard along the South Bay Bike Trail, which runs along the beach. The South Bay Bike Trail is also a favorite with joggers, rollerbladers, and cyclists.
Volleyball enthusiasts have their fill of beach volleyball competition at the free volleyball nets. Families picnic on the sand or at the restaurants lining Santa Monica beach, and lovers stroll along the water at sunset. Meanwhile, the jet set can hire a personal beach valet, known as a Beach Butler, to set them up with a couple of beach chairs, an umbrella and table, and some cold beverages. Yes, there is something for everyone at the beach in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica State Beach is also the setting for the world-famous 100-year-old Santa Monica Pier, accessible through the famous blue archway. Pacific Park, a family-oriented amusement park, is located by the Pier, with its landmark Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and other pay-per-ride attractions. Families will enjoy the activities at Pacific Park as well as the 1922 hand-carved Hippodrome Carousel, a National Historic Landmark. Would-be fishermen can also fish off the end of the Pier without a license, and fishing equipment and bait are available for rent.
South of the Santa Monica Beach is the original 1930s "Muscle" Beach. While the Venice Muscle Beach gets most of the credit for bronzed body-builders lifting weights by the sand, the beach in Santa Monica originated the idea, with gymnastic and acrobatic performances held there in the 1930s on gym equipment provided by the city. Recently the equipment on the beach has been restored, and it continues to hold weightlifting events and has an extensive collection of gymnastic equipment. Some of the world's most famous bodybuilders trained here, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There are also many hotels available on the beachfront with beautiful views of the ocean, and within easy walking distance of Santa Monica Beach are many fun things to do. These include the Third Street Promenade, a popular shopping area; the International Chess Park, with public chess tables and a human scale chessboard; and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Nevertheless, the pristine golden sand of Santa Monica Beach is what continues to draw sunbathers and water-lovers alike, and a vacation to this lovely Southern California city just wouldn't be complete without stopping by.