Santa Monica Beach

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Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica

There are endless ways to enjoy this 3.5-mile stretch of sand, running from Venice Beach in the south to Will Rogers State Beach in the north. Sunbathing and swimming are obvious options, but you can also reserve time on a beach volleyball court or, for more cerebral pursuits, settle in at a first-come first-served chess table at International Chess Park, just south of the Santa Monica Pier.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Monica attractions

1. Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

0.34 MILES

Peer under the pier – just below the carousel – for this small aquarium. Kid-friendly touch tanks crawl with critters and crustaceans scooped from local…

2. Santa Monica Pier Carousel

0.35 MILES

A National Historic Landmark at the beginning of the pier, the 1916 Hippodrome building housing the carousel appeared in the movie The Sting. The 44…

3. Pacific Park

0.36 MILES

Kids and kids within get their kicks on Santa Monica Pier at this small, classic Americana amusement park, with a solar-powered Ferris wheel, tame roller…

4. Santa Monica Pier

0.37 MILES

Once the very end of the legendary Route 66 and still the object of a tourist love affair, this much-photographed pier dates back to 1908 and is the city…

5. Palisades Park

0.38 MILES

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Route 66, America’s most romanticized byway, formerly ended at this gorgeous cliffside park perched dramatically on the edge…

6. Original Muscle Beach

0.47 MILES

South of Santa Monica Pier is the Original Muscle Beach, where the Southern California exercise craze began in the 1930s and '40s. While it's more…

7. International Chess Park

0.47 MILES

Close by the Original Muscle Beach, the search for the next Bobby Fischer is on at the International Chess Park. There are more than 65 regular-sized…

8. Tongva Park

0.49 MILES

This meticulously designed green space connects Ocean Ave to the Santa Monica Civic Center area. Well-lit and maintained, there are palms and agave groves…