Some confusion surrounds the world famous Muscle Beach in that there are two of them. One just beside the Santa Monica Pier and the other on the beach in Venice.
Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is actually the original Muscle Beach. It began in 1934 when the Works Progress Administration installed exercise equipment just south of the Santa Monica Pier. Soon after popular gymnastic and acrobatic exhibitions were held there. A weight lifting platform was added and became the workout area for famous bodybuilders such as Jack LaLanne and Joe Gold. By the 1950s, Muscle Beach had achieved world fame.
The decaying weight lifting platform was removed in 1959 and the attention of the world shifted to Muscle Beach Venice. This is obvious. When you visit Muscle Beach Venice you have no doubt you have arrived. The original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica could be completely overlooked were it not for the Muscle Beach sign added when the beach was re-dedicated in 1989. There is gymnastic equipment, but no weight lifting platform and the gymnastic equipment easily blends in with the children’s playground equipment.
If you are a fitness fan, I would recommend you visit both of the Muscle Beaches. The original so you can say you were there and Muscle Beach Venice so you can see where the current action is. And while you are at the original you can check out the Santa Monica Pier and the Chess Park. And if you want to relax and take in breathtaking views of the pier and ocean, Pacific Palisades Park is right there too. Our post on all of the Santa Monica attractions will give you dozens of things to see and do.