Playgrounds (for children), Stuff To Do

original muscle beach

Original Muscle Beach

This historic stretch of Santa Monica beach — the original Muscle Beach — was the epicenter of the American fitness movement in it’s salad days. Now it’s a veritable cornucopia of sturdy exercise apparatuses and playground equipment. There are balance beams, chinning bars, rings and ropes. The padded play/workout areas are nice, too. There’s also gobs of playground equipment and mock rocks for children to play on, and you’ll generally see plenty of kids here going bonkers (under the watchful eyes of parents and teachers).

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Pacific Ave Park (Off-Leash Dog Park)

Pacific Street Park (Off-Leash Dog Park)

Canines rule at this half block of fenced-in dog park. Let the curs off their leashes to cavort with their own kind. Meanwhile, you can experience another expensive piece of Santa Monica real estate gone to the dogs…in a good way, for once.

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Psychic Palm & Tarot Card Reader

Psychic Palm & Tarot Card Reader

One of several Venice-area spots to get a palm or tarot card reading. Psyched to see a psychic? I see a visit in your future. How, you ask? Crystal balls. I actually have three.

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Santa Monica Pier Playground

Santa Monica Pier Playground

On the beach just south of the pier. The full compliment of playground paraphernalia: swings, climbing ropes, monkey bars, a padded deck…rings even. Nearby restrooms. Grassy gymnastics field. Definitely enough stuff to tire out your brood.

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bikepath

Santa Monica/Venice Bike Path

A great bike path runs along the beach for much of Los Angeles’ west side. The Santa Monica/Venice leg of the path is among its most colorful. The two-way, paved thoroughfare is best for wheeled devices like bikes, blades an skateboards. It can get a tad hazardous on weekends when lots of oblivious walkers meander — and unaware little ones dart — onto the path. Of course, the parade of humanity is part of the attraction for many. Watch out for aggro road bikers and berate the bullies accordingly.

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South Venice Beach Volleyball Nets

South Venice Beach Volleyball Nets

There are four or five public volleyball nets on the beach south of the Venice Lifeguard Station. Though there are a few regular games, the nets are available to all, first come, first serve. Literally. Bring your own balls and line.

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Windward Basket Ball Courts

Venice Beach Basketball Courts

Venice’s beach side basketball courts feature a decidedly city game. Of course, all level of b-ball players are welcome on these Venice Recreation Center basketball courts. But if you’re going to talk trash and perform the occasional flagrant foul, you best bring your A-game. And be prepared for a beat down. Good place to bleed off excess testosterone.

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drum circle

Venice Beach Drum Circle

Less drum “circle” than inspired cluster-f#%!, this popular, long-running, public Venice happening usually gets its groove on by late afternoon Saturdays, coalescing on the beach at about Brooks Ave. Come, drum, dance, spin, flail, inhale the exotic bouquet.

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handball courts

Venice Beach Handball Courts

Part of the Venice Recreational Center, the public handball courts — there are four outdoor concrete courts facing a concrete riser viewing area — are as close to being on the beach as you can get without being literally on the beach. Bouncing balls off walls, winter, spring, summers and falls. Free.

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venice beach public paddle tennis courts

Venice Beach Public Paddle Tennis Courts

Nine, free public paddle tennis courts at the beach. If you’ve never played, it’s a blast, particularly doubles, which is a laugh riot even if you suck. Open to the public from sun-up to sun-down.

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