School started early this year for many Southern California kids, but that does not mean summer fun is done. So pack up your family and get your beach on with these great day trips and cool stuff for the sand and surf.
You got your beach chairs, cooler, blankets, umbrella and all the other accoutrement for a day at the beach — but how to you haul it across the sand? The Wheeleez Beach Cart ($337) is the next best thing to a plane drop for getting your gear to the shore. It features giant balloon-like wheels that glide across the sand, and with the huge 3.5-cubic foot tub, you can transport everything in one trip. The cart features a handle for easy pulling and pushing across the sand and a kickstand to park it. The handle folds down and the axle and wheels come off quickly for an easy load-in to your car. When not in service at the beach, you can use the cart for gardening, as it can also cruise through mud, and it won’t crush your flower beds; or you can use the tub to store all your beach gear for the next trip. An optional umbrella ($19.95) can connect to the cart to keep your gear, and you in the shade. Available at http://www.wheeleez.com. Like Wheeleez, Inc. at www.Wheeleez.com/Facebook for coupons codes for a discount on the Beach Cart and a FREE Beach Umbrella with purchase.
The Not-So-Exclusive Beach House
Love hanging by the beach, but you also love the comforts of a resort? Get the best of both worlds, without the resort fees, at the Annenberg Community Beach House (www.annenbergbeachhouse.com). Located in Santa Monica at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, at Beach House Way, the private-home-turned public community center boasts an expansive public beach front and plenty of reasonably-priced amenities. The beautiful mosaic-tiled pool and the guest house are all that remain of the former beach mansion bestowed by William Randolph Heart on his mistress Marion Davies. Now anyone can use the pool, reservations recommended, for a small fee of $10 for adults and $4 for youth, with senior and four-person family discounts.
For a CliffsNotes history lesson about the homestead, well-informed docents offer free tours of the guest house. The grounds also feature a water-jet play area, swings and play structures for children, all next door to the Back to the Beach Café. For more formal occasions, the center offers gorgeous party rooms for rent, and guests can reserve canopies on the beach for $20 per hour, though during peak season these get snapped up quickly. Ignore the valet and self-park for $4 an hour, or all day for $8, or $10 on weekends. While it is not quite the Ritz, this beach house will literally let you experience the beach just like the rich and famous.
Do you enjoy biking on the beach path through Will Rogers State Park, but don’t like pedaling through the pedestrians? Want to take the kids to the Santa Monica Pier, but hate fighting the crowds? Is learning to surf on your bucket list, but lessons aren’t in your budget? Take advantage of the official end of the summer season, when tourist traffic dwindles, to experience beach activities without the swarms of out-of-town visitors, and sometimes at a discount.
Whether your pleasure is the smell of burning sage and the sound of drum circles in Venice or people watching at the beachfront cafes in Santa Monica, the bike path from Manhattan Beach to Malibu offers plenty to see and do along the way, and after Labor Day there are fewer walkers to swerve around. You also get a better pick of rental bikes at shops like Perry’s Bike and Skate at 2600 Ocean Front Walk or local fave Spokes ‘N Stuff, with locations at 4200 Admiralty Way in Marina Del Rey and 1700 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
If being turned upside down and scrambled is more your thing, Pacific Park on the Pier offers rides, games and other attractions for all ages along with your favorite boardwalk food, like Hot-Dog-on-a-Stick, cotton candy and kettle corn. Off-season lines are shorter, temperatures are cooler, and you can actually find a parking space. Before you go, stop by a local Costco for discount ride-all-day wristbands offered at about half the regular price.
The sun may be setting on summer, but the beach still has plenty to offer. You can get great off-season deals on surfing instruction at Aqua Surf School (www.aquasurfschool.com), which offers promotions October through April. The water is at is warmest at the end of summer, and you don’t have to compete for the waves with the throngs of tourists. So what are you waiting for? Hang ten!