The workout: Two sets of stairs: wooden = 170 steps; concrete = 199 steps. The wider wooden stairs allow more room to share with (or pass) your fellow climbers. Water is sometimes available at the top for $1 on a grab-and-pay honor system. The concrete steps offer more stability with metal banisters that you’ll need to hoist yourself to the top where it gets super steep.
The scene: Always packed. The twin Santa Monica stairs are a mecca for hard bodies and weekend fitness warriors who also jump rope, stretch, jog and power through pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups in between climbing. Be sure to bring whatever you need as there are no facilities. To relieve yourself, you can make a dash (literally) for the restroom along the running path on Ocean Avenue at Idaho.
How’s the parking? A ticket trap. Adelaide Drive is for residents only. Park on nearby San Vicente or the meters along Ocean Avenue. Park along Entrada, West Channel or Mesa.
Bonus: Too crowded? Jog over to the secret La Mesa stairs around the bend. Blink and you’ll miss the narrow entryway wedged between 404 and 410. The 201 narrow steps are just as tough—minus the crowd. No railing makes it not for the faint of heart, or breath. The top takes you to Amalfi and Upper Entrada.
Live on the Eastside? We also like the Silver Lake Stair Climb (located on Redcliff St near Landa St) with three different sets of stairs in the same vicinity.