Not-So-Endless Summer: Try These Beach Hacks Before the Season’s Over

Avoid parking and traffic drama a la playa with these four tips

Don’t be alarmed, but summer is going to end. In fact, it will come to a close officially on September 23rd—the clock is ticking! While the rest of the world thinks we live at the beach, the reality is that most of us don’t enjoy Zuma, Dockweiler, Will Rogers, et al, as much as we’d like to. We can’t lay all the blame on work and family commitments; the struggle of actually getting to the Pacific keeps many of us from frolicking in the ocean. We can’t promise you won’t hit traffic, but the following transportation tips can make the journey west less stressful:

1. Take The Headache Out Of Parking:
If you leave early enough, driving can be the quickest, easiest way to get to the coast. But what to do with the car? Sure, there are plenty of parking lots in Santa Monica and Venice—the situation in Malibu is a little more complicated (be careful crossing PCH!)—but it can cost as much as a nice brunch on the boardwalk. And if you want to try to leave the car close to a specific restaurant or store, it’s even more expensive. Try ParkMe, a website that compares area parking and allows you to reserve spots before you arrive. A recent search found that parking at the Wyndham Santa Monica will cost you a relatively reasonable $11, while dropping your car off at Loews Santa Monica will take $38.50 out of your wallet, and that’s not including tip.

2. Leave Sand On The Bus And Not In Your Car:
Driving to the beach usually includes a required trip to the car wash (sand has a magical way of getting in every crevice). While we wait for the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica to open in early 2016, there are numerous beach-bound buses via Metro (try the express 720 via Wilshire Boulevard), Big Blue Bus (the #1 drops you off right on Ocean Avenue and travels south to Main Street in Santa Monica and Venice), and Culver City (their #1 zooms right past the canals). If you live in the ‘burbs, check out the Beach Bus, which has direct service from places like Altadena, Palmdale, and Topanga Canyon to Santa Monica, for way less than gas and parking.

3. Two Wheels Can Be Faster Than Four:
If you live on the Westside and are within walking distance to downtown Santa Monica, you can take advantage of the city’s two bike centers, which offer cycling rentals. There are over a dozen varieties of bikes available, with options for two-hour, half-day, or full-day rentals. The best bet is a full-day rental for 30 bucks; you’ll feel free to tackle the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, the 22-mile path that stretches from Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach in Torrance.

4. Get Adventurous:
If you have your own bike and you’re near a Metro rail station, hop on the Expo Line and get off at the La Cienega/Jefferson station. Follow the signs to the Expo Line Bike Path, head to where the path crosses Jefferson Boulevard, and you’ll see Ballona Creek and it’s adjacent bike path. From there, you’ll have an easy and picturesque ride to Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey, where you can connect with the Braude Bike Trail (also known as The Strand) and head north to Santa Monica or down to the South Bay.