The workout: Parallel bars, uneven bars, rings swings—it’s a playground for grown-ups (and a smaller version for kids) with an unbeatable ocean view.
The scene: The original Muscle Beach (located on Ocean Front Walk, off Appian Way between Pacific Terrace and Arcadia Terrace) has plenty of regulars, gawking tourists and a healthy crowd of amateurs. On weekends, you’ll see some amazing beach gymnasts and the vibe is friendly—be courteous and don’t hog the ropes, and they’ll offer tips or share handfuls of chalk (you can also usually find chalk left in the sand near the ropes swings).
How’s the parking? Credit cards are convenient for the two-hour metered parking near the beach. It’s easy to get to the rings from the Santa Monica Pier parking lot or any of the downtown structures (first 90 minutes are free).
Bonus: If the rings are too crowded—or you’re intimidated by the talent—opt for a beach jog on the sand or pavement.