Muscle Beach - Atlas Obscura

Muscle Beach

An historic and oft-filmed spot for musclebound iron pumpers on the Pacific coast. 


If you have ever watched TV, you have seen a camera sweep of Muscle Beach, probably more than once. In fact, few L.A. beach scenes are shot without it, or at least something imitating this iconic gathering point. Hard bodies, athletes and meatheads pumping iron, with their oily biceps glistening in the shining SoCal sun. An enthusiastic symbol of California’s exhibitionistic tendencies and Hollywood’s standards of physical perfection, Muscle Beach is a surreal, fitness fanatic’s dream. But regardless of how many times it’s been seen on film, Muscle Beach is very real.

Dating back to the 1930s, when Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier were part of a grand seaside resort that was the brainchild of developer Abbott Kinney, Muscle Beach has always generated attention. While over the years it has been relocated up and down the boardwalk, it’s remained a popular destination (and exhibition stage) for gymnasts, acrobats, and bodybuilders to compete, perform, and get their workout and tanning done simultaneously.

Famous bodybuilders and celebrities to have been known to frequent Muscle Beach are Franco Columbu, Austin Gregory, Lou Ferrigno, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Penned in like trophy athletes on display, the denizens of Muscle Beach have ranged from celebrities to Olympians, but these days mostly consist of muscle-bound show-offs and traveling athletes who want to take a stab at a workout in the world-famous location.

Bleachers are thoughtfully provided for shameless spectating, but heckling is not advised.

Know Before You Go

Ocean Front Walk, two blocks north of Venice Boulevard

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