Discover the Beach Cities Car Free

Santa Monica Beach Pier

 |  Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

No place conveys the healthy lifestyle often associated with Los Angeles more than the area’s coastal communities. So it’s only natural that a one-day tour of the beach cities of Santa Monica and Venice would be of the human-powered variety, with no motors required. Here’s a local itinerary that can be completed by bike, on foot or even on skateboard.

Allow a minimum of six hours walking, or three hours biking, for this day-long coastal itinerary. Essentials include comfortable shoes/sandals, sunscreen and occasional water breaks.

Recommended Methods of Travel: Walking or Biking
Total Distance: 5.6 miles. Distance Walking or Biking: 5.6 miles

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Santa Monica Beach Pier

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Santa Monica Pier

Park at one of the city’s municipal lots or at Santa Monica Place, and make your way west to the edge of Colorado Avenue, where a stroll down the bridge to the landmark Santa Monica Pier will afford fantastic views of Santa Monica Bay. At the foot of the pier, which first opened in 1909, is its historic carousel.

Pacific Park, Santa Monica

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Pacific Park

Near the center of the pier, Pacific Park, which is open every day, offers more than 30 rides, games and attractions, including a nine-story-tall solar-powered Ferris wheel and a five-story-tall roller coaster.

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Heal The Bay Aquarium

For kids, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which is open afternoons and serves as an education center for Heal the Bay, offers interactive opportunities to learn about more than 100 species of marine animals and plants.

Muscle Beach, Photo: maruebe, Flickr 

Venice Beach Recreation Center

Just south of the Santa Monica Pier, begin your stroll down Ocean Front Walk or ride a bike via one of the rental establishments located near the coastal path. At the Venice border, the world famous Ocean Front Walk (aka "the boardwalk") greets you with an eclectic collection of outdoor vendors, shops, restaurants, locals and eccentrics such as the legendary roller-skating, turban-wearing guitarist Harry Perry.

About two scenic miles later you'll arrive at the Venice Beach Recreation Center and world-famous Muscle Beach, where fitness buffs continue to strut their stuff on the rings, bars and other exercise equipment. The popular Venice Skate Park is nearby. Also check out the basketball courts where “White Men Can’t Jump” was filmed.

At Windward Avenue, just east of the boardwalk, the historic Colonnade is an architectural reminder of the community’s early-20th Century Italian inspiration.

Venice Canals

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Venice Canals

From Windward and Pacific, go south on Pacific about a quarter mile to the historic Venice Canals. Bordered roughly by Pacific Avenue to the west, Venice Boulevard to the north, Ocean Avenue to the east and 28th Avenue to the south, the man-made canals, which were dug up in 1905, can be explored via bike or on foot.


The Tasting Kitchen | Photo by Niles Harrison, courtesy of TTK

Abbot Kinney Blvd.

A few blocks from the northeast corner of the canals is Abbot Kinney Boulevard, recently dubbed the "Coolest Block in America" by GQ Magazine. Named for Venice founder Abbot Kinney, the mile-long stretch offers dozens of boutiques, cafes and other stores from Venice Boulevard on the south to Main Street on the north. Top restaurants along Abbot Kinney include longtime favorite Joe’s and the acclaimed Tasting Kitchen.

Santa Monica Farmers Market

The north end of Abbot Kinney Boulevard connects with Main Street, which offers Santa Monica its own take on the urban-beach vibe. Main Street features shops, restaurants and a lively Sunday Farmers Market that even has pony rides for the kids.

Santa Monica Place | Photo courtesy of Macerich, Wikipedia

Santa Monica Place

Take Main Street north about half a mile, past Santa Monica City Hall, to its terminus at Santa Monica Place, which was redesigned from an indoor mall to a stunning outdoor retail-lifestyle center that reopened in 2010.