Santa Monica likes to keep things simple: sun, sand, and the kind of cultural diversity that would make Portland feel like an L-train ride through East Brooklyn. The same can be said for its must-sees, which number in the single digits and can easily be experienced in a day’s worth of city exploration. Strolling the 3rd Street promenade? Sure. Snapping a photo on the Santa Monica Pier? Obviously.
Its most enjoyable asset, however, might just be the 6-mile bike trail running from Will Rogers Beach to the Venice Pier. Not that we’re biased or anything, but this serpentine stretch of pavement takes cyclists along the base of the Santa Monica bluffs and past some of the most iconic coastal sights in Los Angeles. It’s all part of the Marvin Braude Bicycle Path, better known as “The Strand” by those in the colloquial know.
So just what can you expect from a ride on Santa Monica’s most popular bike trail? Well for starters, a crowd. While weekends see a particularly high number of rental bike-wielding visitors, you’re bound to find congestion no matter when you visit. This is particularly where the path dips underneath the SM Pier, which is listed among the most Instagrammed destinations in the world.
Find the Perfect Ride for Cycling the Venice Pier Trail:
You’ll also likely have to deal with at least a moderate buildup of sand on the concrete, particularly along the slower, curvier stretches near Venice Beach. These can range from moderate inconvenience to serious obstacle depending on the width and tread of your tires. They also contribute to an overall reduction in cycling speed, which may or may not be a good thing.
If pedestrian traffic and a few sandy embankments don’t bother you, however, chances are the benefits of riding this portion of The Strand will far outweigh the inconveniences. After all, as far as public beaches go, this is a 6-mile stretch of some of the best that Los Angeles has to offer. From the family-friendly flats of Will Rogers, past the classic views of Santa Monica to the unorthodox characters of Venice, there’s every reason to slow down and appreciate some truly quintessential SoCal scenery.
And yes, this absolutely includes a stop at the renowned outdoor fitness spectacle that is Muscle Beach.
Although the Marvin Braude Bike Path technically runs for 22 miles (35 km), the Venice Pier marks a natural breaking point on your journey before looping around the Marina del Rey. You can always opt to continue your ride south, of course, however between the beachy bars on Washington Boulevard and the beckoning views beneath the sun-weathered jetty you might be just as tempted to lock up your bike and call it an afternoon.
Hey, we don’t judge. Just be sure to put back a cold one for us.