Photo: Mike McBey via Flickr / CC BY
Just down the pier’s southeast steps, you’ll find Chess Park, a collection of 67 outdoor chess boards (including one that’s human-sized), which is open from sunrise to sunset for public enjoyment. And while you’re there, grab a bite at the original Hot Dog on a Stick stand, still in its iconic beachside location.
When it’s time to hop back on the bicycle, stay on the path southward but keep your eyes peeled toward the left, where the outdoor gymnastics equipment marks the start of Santa Monica’s original Muscle Beach. Replete with various structures for swinging, rope-climbing, and acrobatic performing, it’s been a haven for athletes and aspirational amateurs alike since the 1930s.
From this teeming hub of activity, continue pedaling down the Strand’s palm-lined path, which winds gently away from the pier and takes you further down the coastline. Soon, you’ll come upon the colorful bustle of Venice Beach, a whimsical neighborhood brimming with brilliant street art and eccentric characters. On the left stretches an interesting collection of eye-catching storefronts purveying tattoos, coffee, souvenirs, art, and psychic services, while the right side features the acclaimed Venice Skatepark. Offering 16,000 square feet of skate-worthy cement, it’s one of the few skateparks in the world that’s sunken into the beach.