From among any other big cities in the entire country, Los Angeles is arguably the most alluring when it comes to enjoying a sensational summer day spent by the sea. And while a number of world-renowned venues that involve both sand and sun are open to the public in our neck of the woods, other inviting venues take visitors to the hills of Hollywood for great reservoirs of water. That said, consider the following at which to have a summer blast, both down low and up high, in the City of Angels.
Lake Hollywood Reservoir
2600 Lake Hollywood Drive
Hollywood, Calif. 90068
Freshly re-opened in 2012 after being spiffed up in a major way following rain washout back in 2005, Lake Hollywood is a slice of serenity hidden away from the fray of Hollywood madness. Once there, you’ll discover no hint of city life. Because of that, this is by no means an easy place to find, so it’s best to Google the landscape and entrances before heading out. No doubt it is well worth the extra planning to hit up this verdant spot where regulars tend to head down the four-mile path that circles this man-made reservoir. But if you don’t feel like exercising even at a leisurely pace, simply sit beneath the shade of a huge hardwood tree and contemplate life without any ambient noises besides those provided by Mother Nature.
1800 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, Calif. 90291
Taking a beach day is relaxing but taking a beach day in Venice is relaxing and entertaining. The paved promenade at water’s edge draws modern-day hippies, all sorts of magicians, daring chain saw jugglers and compelling fortune tellers to this carnival-by-the-sea atmosphere where souvenir shops, skateboard rentals and pizza stands abound. The small square of asphalt known as Muscle Beach is always worthy of a visit if only to watch sweaty bodybuilders doing their thing while many buskers on board Ocean Front Walk are actually world-class musicians getting in some practice and some sun at the same time.
30000 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, Calif. 90265
Zuma is Los Angeles County’s largest beach at five miles long. Long recognized as the site of Baywatch-worthy babes coming out of the surf, the waves are alluring for sophisticated surfers as well as swimmers who enjoy a little challenge. For your outing, pack a nice picnic and head for this fun spot where volleyball courts are public and where swing sets and bike paths are prevalent. This is said to be the cleanest of all the beaches in this part of southern California.
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3212 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266
The Beach Boys hung out in Manhattan Beach, or MB as those in the know call this outpost, before turning into a famous band, and serious volleyball players call this place nirvana. But summer sun seekers simply know this seaside retreat as an ideal way to settle down in front of the mighty Pacific for some quality time under the sun. For the more active among them, superb scuba diving and awesome surfing conditions are available, as is The Strand, the place to mingle at this highly social, coastal hangout. Looking for less action in terms of human attractions? Head for The Pier, a great place to spot creatures from the deep without even getting wet.
Santa Monica State Beach
Colorado Ave. and Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, Calif. 90403
Santa Monica’s seaside stretch promises fashion, fads and frothy fun. Wedged between Venice and Malibu by more than three miles, this popular retreat seen on celluloid in so many movies and television shows is best visited early in the morning during the summer, when the throngs of sun worshippers grow with every waking hour. One lure for an early launch is that dolphins may be swimming near the shore. For those who like crowds, head for the centerpiece of this fabled place any time of the day or night. That would be the century-old Santa Monica Pier, with its celebrated solar-powered Ferris wheel, its bounty of carnival games and its storied vintage carousel where Marilyn Monroe once went during the late night hours to fantasize.
Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.