My favorite memory involving Santa Monica beach is not taking photos under the pier, playing arcade games on the Boardwalk, or even sampling the local café delicacies. Instead, I’d have to say that the best day I’ve ever spent at Santa Monica had to do with biking Marvin Braude Bike Trail.
I really love exploring cities, and LA is no different! I could drive (or be driven) down Wilshire or walk through 3rd Street Promenade dozens of times and still find something new to see, taste, or do each time. So it’s really no surprise that exploring through biking is also right up my alley, especially along the Marvin Braude or Venice Beach bike trails.
“What Marvin Braude Bike Trail?” you might be thinking. To be honest, I hadn’t actually heard of the name either until I searched it up just a little while ago. But maybe you do know this path by its other local name, “the Strand”. This trail is actually so crazy — it goes all the way from the Pacific Palisades to Torrance: that’s 22 miles of trail right along the ocean! 22 miles of sea alongside you, tourists to look at and be looked at by, and local shops dotting the bike route. It goes through Marina del Rey, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and even King Harbor Marina all the way down to the beach cities of Manhattan and Redondo. Here’s a glimpse of how long the trail is:
Anyways, the day I spent biking through Santa Monica along that route was a sunny Saturday. I’d come with friends for a day of sunshine and ocean spray — basically just a day of relaxing and seeing what was new in the area (things are always hip and changing!). We’d spent a while on the beach playing cards, and then digging a big hole in the soft sand to bury the loser in. We then walked along the boardwalk a little bit, trying to win the carnival games, before deciding we wanted to go to Venice.
Of course, everybody knows that parking is no fun at either Venice or Santa Monica beach, especially on a pleasant and popular Saturday. So we settled for walking — at least until we ran into the very enticing Perry’s Cafe Beach Rentals and saw that they had tandem bikes. That one was a game changer, especially because none of us had ever tried tandem biking before. Also, none of us are really that coordinated and we’re always up for a challenge, so challenge we did take. It was really easy to sign a couple forms and rent the bikes for just a few dollars each (helmets too, of course!) and off we went trying to bike. It’s worth noting that while we opted for the tandem there are a ton of cheap bike rental spots along the Marvin Braude trail so you just need to take your pick.
The Strand itself is well paved and pretty wide, but when you’re just starting to tandem bike that doesn’t help very much haha! We had five bikes for the ten of us and wobbled our way along. My friend Gina and I had a lot of trouble and couldn’t stop laughing as we were getting started. It takes a lot to figure out who should be back pedaling and balance the bike as the other person got on and things like that! Some of our other friends had an easier time getting on (they were taller) but both pedaling at the same time just wasn’t working out. But the Venice Beach biking was going to happen one way or another!
A half an hour later, all of us finally got the hang of tandem biking, and that’s when the exploratory part began! We sped down to Venice, pausing and looking at Muscle beach on the way as well as all of the semi-sketchy, definitely touristy shops. I’d also never been to the Venice Beach canals before, so going along the bike route helped us a lot for that. We could see so many more things: interesting outfits, a promising coffee shop, and lots of little dogs taking their walks.
Needless to say, my simple but pleasant experience with biking along the Marvin Braude bike trail made a pretty big impression on me. It’d be my ideal chill Saturday activity in Los Angeles even now — and I hope it’s a bike trail that you’ll give a chance to too!