Alternative Los Angeles Beach Activities

All of the fun, none of the sand

Small World Books in Venice

Small World Books in Venice | Photo: @crisliraaa, Instagram

As Anakin Skywalker once said: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, it’s rough, it’s irritating, and it gets everywhere.” Not everyone has fun in the sun—but if you find yourself on the coast with fellow sand and sea-loving travelers, drop them there and wander to these places nearby to get your inner goth on.

Adamson House in Malibu

Adamson House | Photo: @ron_greene, Instagram

Adamson House

Take a field trip to the Adamson House, built in 1929 with a Mediterranean Revival design by Stiles O. Clements (the El Capitan, Mayan Theatre, Wiltern Theatre). The Adamson House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a California Historical Landmark. The Malibu Canyon grounds give a great view of Malibu Lagoon and design geeks are guaranteed to get a kick out of the Malibu Tile, bottle-glass windows, hand-wrought ironwork and every little detail that can be absorbed on a tour.

Guided tours are offered Wednesday-Saturday from 11am to 2pm. Admission is $7 for adults, $2 for kids ages six to 16, and free for ages five and under. Garden tours are offered every Friday at 10am - the $7 fee includes an Adamson House tour. Garden tours for groups of ten or more are offered at 10am on Tuesdays and reservations are required. Cash only for tour fees.

Photo: Annenberg Community Beach House, Facebook

Photo: Annenberg Community Beach House, Facebook

Annenberg Beach House

Okay, “beach” is in the name of this Santa Monica public pool but the Marion Davies Guest House on the grounds offers an ever-changing art exhibit, free tours given by docents, and a place to stay cool while working on your novel. Hang out long enough and you might meet the current artist-in-residence. Check the website for hours.



Old Hollywood loves hanging at this West Malibu establishment. Enjoy fine dining well out of the sun with a panoramic view of the ocean, away from the bustle of the busiest part of Malibu. It’s easy to imagine its glory days as Holiday House, where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy once sipped Martinis.

Hare Krishna Temple

If you've got time, drop your friends off at Venice Beach and head inland for about five miles to the Hare Krishna Temple in Culver City. Savor a bite of blessed food from Govinda's Natural Food Buffet; check out the incense, beads, books and saris in the gift shop upstairs; and explore the Bhagavad-Gita Diorama Museum around back. General Admission is just $10 (with options for Private Tours and the "Krishna Experience") and there’s free parking next door.

Scene from "La La Land" at The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach

Scene from La La Land at The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach

 |  Photo: @filmtourismus

The Lighthouse Cafe

If you’re going to hit one of the Beach Cities, head to Sunday brunch at Hermosa Beach’s Lighthouse Café on the Plaza for live jazz and great food. It’s as if time has stood still since this place was the epicenter of the west coast jazz movement of the 1950s. It was also featured in the Academy Award-winning film La La Land. The Lighthouse recently celebrated its 70th anniversary with a free concert by multi-Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer, David Benoit, one of Hermosa’s native sons.

Small World Books in Venice

Small World Books in Venice | Photo: @crisliraaa, Instagram

Small World Books

Walking into this tiny independent bookshop just off the Venice Boardwalk feels like wandering into an alternate reality—one that's jam-packed with best-sellers, mysteries, and eclectic gems by local authors. Look for Conan the Bookstore Cat while browsing.