Play, swim and eat at the picturesque Annenberg Beach House, at Santa Monica.
No membership is required to visit one of the coolest places along Santa Monica's beach.
The Annenberg Beach House is on the Santa Monica waterfront, just 1.5 miles north of the pier. Swim in a historic pool, enjoy a beachfront meal, and take your kids to the splashpad and play area.
The Annenberg Beach House is at the original location where mogul William Randolph Hearst built a mansion for his mistress Hollywood starlet Marion Davies, in the 1920s. The guest house and pool are still there today, but the main 100-room mansion was demolished.
10 BEST things to do at Annenberg Beach House
1. Swim at the heated outdoor pool.
The historic swimming pool is open to the public, and dates back to the 1920s. Hollywood royalty such as Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable, used to hang out here. The setting is incredible, just steps from Santa Monica Beach.
Lay out on the deck chairs, and find plenty of shade under the umbrellas. The seasonal pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day (roughly June, July, August). There are change rooms and lockers, but don't forget to bring your own towel.
Check pool admission fees.
2. Relax on the courtyard.
Enjoy the palm-lined courtyard outside the pool, with plenty of chairs and tables for picnics, and a splashpad area for kids. Savor the great views of Santa Monica Beach.
3. Take your kids to the play area on the sand.
The play area at the Annenberg Beach House is right on the beach! Kids can sink their feet in the sand, as they tackle the climbing wall, splash around the water features, and play on the swings. It's easy to spend a few hours here. There's also shaded areas for parents to sit, while they watch their kids play.
4. Pick up some snacks at the convenient kiosk near the play area.
Load up on snacks, right near the play area.
5. Sink you feet in the sand at the beach cafe.
The Back on the Beach Cafe, has both indoor and outdoor dining, and is open for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy sweeping views of the Santa Monica coastline from a beachfront table. It doesn't get better than this!
6. Rent a volleyball court or soccer field, on the beach.
The Annenberg Beach House has six volleyball courts for rent, and two soccer fields. Everything is rented on a first come, first served basis.
7. Hire a stand-up paddleboard.
If you're feeling more adventurous, rent a stand-up paddleboard from the Annenberg Beach House. This also includes a cart to get the board down to the beach. Check the hourly rates, available year-round.
8. Rent beach chairs and umbrellas from the cafe.
The Back on the Beach Cafe at the Annenberg Beach house has a great deal where you can rent all the beach gear you need, including an umbrella, sand chair and boogie board. Check hourly rates. You can also stock up on other useful beach gear from the cafe, like goggles, sunscreen, sunglasses and beach toys for the kids.
9. Tour the Marion Davies Guest House.
This site of the Annenberg Beach House is steeped in history. A hundred years ago, publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, built an 100-room beachfront mansion for his mistress, starlet Marion Davies. They were a Hollywood power couple, throwing lavish parties at the mansion with other big-name celebrities during the 1920s and 30s. Marion was in her twenties when she started seeing Hearst, and there was a 34 year age difference between them.
In 1947, Marion Davies sold the mansion to a hotelier, who transformed it into a boutique resort, with the Sand and Sea Club. The business venture was not successful, and the mansion was bulldozed. All that was left was the beautiful 7,000 square foot guest house, and the original swimming pool.
In 1959, the resort was sold to the State of California, who continued to operate the Sand and Sea Club. The Annenberg Beach House opened in 2009, with a generous donation from the Annenberg Foundation.
The Santa Monica Conservancy has docent run tours of the Marion Davies Guest House. Check times here.
10. Ride the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.
This beachfront bike trail runs 22-miles from Pacific Palisades, through Santa Monica, Venice Beach and to Torrance Beach. The trial is visible just outside the Annenberg Beach House. You can't rent bikes at the Beach House, so check other places like Perry's Cafe and Beach Rentals or the Santa Monica Bike Center.
Know before you go