On summer weekends the lot fills early and admission to the pool—designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan—sells out quickly. Go online up to three days in advance to purchase pool entry ($10 for adults, $4 for kids) and parking ($12 for the day). Or arrive before the ticket office opens at 9:30 a.m. to guarantee same-day access.
Enjoy the Grounds
Got the little ones in tow? Once you’ve stashed your valuables in a locker (bring your own lock), escort the children to the play area, with its climbing mound and sand table, or to the popular splash pad.
Dive Into History
Take a docent-led tour (offered most days until 2 p.m.) of the Marion Davies Guest House, where William Randolph Hearst’s mistress stowed visitors. The bathrooms feature the original nautical-themed art deco tiles, and the house is adorned with photos of stars who partied on the premises.
Grab Some Grub
In case you didn’t pack your own vittles, the on-site Back on the Beach Café is the only L.A. restaurant where you can eat while wiggling your toes in the sand. Fish tacos or a salad topped with calamari should satisfy your palate.
Hit the Sand
The five-acre facility includes six beach volleyball courts with ball rentals available ($7 an hour). When the ocean beckons, you can opt for a paddleboard ($25 an hour) or a boogie board ($7 an hour). A wood boardwalk provides a stable path to the water for strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs.
Take a Break
Had enough sun? Seek sanctuary in the Pool House, where the rec room is stocked with beanbag chairs, board games, and Ping-Pong tables. This summer the gallery displays photos from past GLOW festivals, held near the Santa Monica Pier.
Raise a Glass
Drive north on PCH to the Hungry Cat for a bit of sparkling wine and the fruits de mer platter. Or head up the California Incline to the Water Grill to slurp oysters before ending the evening with a sophisticated cocktail at Copa d’Oro a few blocks away.