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Santa Monica: Swim, dance and tour film star's old beach house

Daily Deal and Travel Blogger

Back in the day, actress Marion Davies' luxurious beach house in Santa Monica had more than 100 rooms and an ornate swimming pool. Little of the original mansion still exists, but what's now known as the Annenberg Community Beach House still has plenty of oceanfront allure.

The beach house will mark its fifth anniversary Saturday and Sunday with an open house that is to feature activities as varied as ballroom dancing and paddleboarding lessons.

Guided tours with architects John Berley and Mia Lehrer are scheduled for 10 a.m. each day. The mansion was financed by Davies' lover, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and many grand Hollywood parties were held here, according to a history on the beach house website.

Hearst engaged Julia Morgan to design it; Morgan also designed Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

Berley and Lehrer were tasked with reimagining much of the site after the 1994 Northridge quake caused severe damage to the few structures that remained. (The original mansion had been demolished in 1956.) It wasn't until the Annenberg Foundation stepped in with a $27.5-million gift that the beach house was reborn.

During the open house, each day is scheduled to begin with free yoga on the beach at 9 a.m. and paddleboarding lessons in the morning or afternoon ($15 each; reservations are required). There's also to be old-school fun, including tug of war and sack races as well as kite-flying.

Saturday is to bring a bubble-making session for kids, starting at 4 p.m., and a 7:45 p.m. screening of the 1928 silent film "Show People" that features Davies. Self-guided tours of the guest house, which is one of the original buildings that's now a museum, and swimming in the pool are available both days.

Parking at 415 Pacific Coast Highway is limited and costs $12 a day. You can park at lots south of the beach house for $10 a day and walk over, or ride your bike to the Pacific Coast Bike Trail and walk in.

The events are set to run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The open house is free and open to the public.

Info: Annenberg Community Beach House, (310) 458-4904

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