This beach beauty’s a bargain
May 25, 2011
The Annenberg Community Beach House, owned and operated by the City of Santa Monica for public use, will be opening its pool for the long Memorial Day weekend. The pool’s actual season runs June 25-Labor Day, so this is a three-day chance to get an early jump on summer—while savoring one of the choicest beachfront locales anywhere.
The pool is just one amenity at the 5-acre oceanfront property, once the site of Marion Davies’ fabled beach mansion and playground for the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and, naturally, William Randolph Hearst, who built the humble 100-plus-room beach shack in the 1920s for Davies, his longtime mistress.
The property opened to the public two years ago, after previous incarnations as a grand hotel and the Sand & Sea Club. (The mansion was torn down in 1956, but Davies’ guest cottage is still on the site and tourable.) Funding from the Annenberg Foundation enabled the city of Santa Monica to clean up hazardous materials on the property, restore the pool and create an architecturally significant compound with some serious environmental cred. The Beach House has LEED Gold certification and runs on wind-generated power, while water for the pool and “splash pad” area are heated by solar collectors.
Beach real estate this choice doesn’t come along often, and pool admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis. So if you’d like to secure a place in the sun this weekend, a little advance planning may be required. Same-day pool passes will go on sale starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, Sunday, May 29, and Monday, May 30. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors over 60, $4 for children under 18. Reservations also are available online starting three days in advance.
The Annenberg Community Beach House is located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, north of the Santa Monica Pier. (Directions are here.) Parking is $8 on the weekends, but you can avoid the charge—and get into the eco-friendly spirit of the Beach House—by getting there on bicycle, via the Pacific Coast Bike Trail.
Nan Friedman, the Beach House manager, said a number of “summer-inspired” classes are coming this year, exploring everything from stand-up paddleboarding and open ocean swimming to sand games such as disc golf.
That ever-evolving list of featured classes and cultural attractions is another reason to discover the facility. “Oddly enough,” Friedman said, “there are people from all over the world who know about the Annenberg Beach House and we also have people who live locally who say, ‘I drive by every day and I never knew what it was.’ ” If you’re one of them, this just might be your weekend to find out.