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A collage of two people running on the sand, with the sea and the sunset behind them.
(Los Angeles Times illustration; photo by Getty Images)

Want to run with ocean views? Try these invigorating L.A. beach paths

The best run I’ve ever taken was on the bike path in Santa Monica. It was five days before my wedding, and I was more than crunched for time, but I was determined to run the five miles I’d set my mind on before skipping town to get hitched.

It was worth it. The flatness of the path, the sunshine with a light breeze, the lack of interruptions and, of course, the beautiful scenery made each mile special. Around the halfway point, a blond toddler with a face full of ice cream smiled and waved as I ran by. It felt like the whole beach was celebrating with me.

While not every run can be that special, setting out for a jog by the beach can get those good running juices flowing. You don’t have to worry about cars and stop lights, and being in nature while exercising compounds the good vibes of a workout session. Research has shown that “compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.” Yep, that sounds about right for a run by the beach in Los Angeles.

That’s because this city is blessed with miles of coastline featuring bike and pedestrian paths. The most notable is the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as the Bike Path and the Strand. It stretches 22 miles from the Pacific Palisades to Torrance. And though there are a few interruptions along the way,the path hugs the sand directly the vast majority of the time.

The elephant in the room: Can you really jog on a bike path? According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, the Marvin Braude trail is a “shared-use path,” which means it’s intended for bikers, runners, walkers, and others. One caveat is that when there is an adjacent pedestrian path — as there is in sections of Santa Monica and the South Bay — joggers should use that path whenever it’s available.

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Of course, bike path etiquette is what makes this amalgamation of activity work. While you’re jogging, stay to the right-hand side of the path, so bikers can safely pass you on your left. If you want to pass a walker or a jogger who is slower than you, pass on their left-hand side and don’t be afraid to communicate with them verbally to let them know. Safety first!

Joggers: The Los Angeles bike path is your oyster. Here’s where you can hit the sandy trails for beach runs in L.A.

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A jogger runs along the path at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times )

Will Rogers State Beach

Pacific Palisades Beach
Park at Will Rogers State Beach at the bottom of Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades and you’ll find yourself at the northern end of of the Marvin Braude Bike Path. Whether you want to run one mile or 10, this is a great starting point for running south to Santa Monica.
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Ocean Front Walk path
(Rachel Kraus)

Ocean Front Walk

Santa Monica Beach
The pedestrian path that runs (mostly) adjacent to the bike path in Santa Monica south of the pier is called Ocean Front Walk. That means you can run on a path where you’ll only have pedestrians, not bikers, to contend with — although not everyone follows the rules (particularly tourists), and skateboarders and people on scooters can be another wild card.

Park at the pier and you can run the 1.8 miles to the Venice Beach Boardwalk. If you want to keep going at that point, you might want to cut over to the bike path as the boardwalk gets pretty congested with tourists and vendors. Then again, it makes for great people watching!
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 Marina Del Rey Beach running path
(Rachel Kraus)

Marina Del Rey

Marina del Rey Beach
At Washington Boulevard, the bike path cuts in and around the boatways of Marina Del Rey. Though not beachside, you can follow the path up Washington, through a parklet along the east side of the marina, around and down the slips and eventually over and across Ballona Creek to Playa Del Rey, where the beachside bike path resumes. The whole route is 4.1 miles from the Venice Beach pier (Washington Boulevard) to Playa Del Rey.
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Running path next to a beach
(Rachel Kraus)

Zuma Beach

Malibu Beach
Malibu’s Zuma Beach is basically begging for you to take a five-mile run on it. Between the parking lot and the sand is a bike path that stretches the length of the beach, 2.5 miles. That makes for a perfect out-and-back path. You’ll get views of Malibu surfers, pristine coastline and ample parking and bathrooms. What more could you want?
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People dining at tables with large umbrellas at the beach
(Rachel Kraus)

Annenberg Community Beach House

Santa Monica Point of Interest
This historic Santa Monica celebrity-beach-house-turned-public-pool is a perfectly positioned Santa Monica run starting point. You can run north to Will Rogers or south to the pier or beyond.

Pro tip: Have a post-run snack or beverage at Back on the Beach Cafe if you want to recover with a cool drink in your hand and your feet in the sand.
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The Strand path along the beach
(Rachel Kraus)

South Bay/The Strand

Manhattan Beach Beach
In Manhattan and Hermosa Beach, the bike path becomes known as “The Strand,” where you can take in the beachside mansions of athletes and entertainment executives while you run. There is some pedestrian congestion around the piers of both cities, but the wide paths and watching volleyball players makes it all worth it.
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The beach running path in Playa del Rey.
(Rachel Kraus)

Playa Del Rey

Playa del Rey Beach
South of Marina Del Rey and Ballona Creek, the bike path resumes its position on the sand. You can start in Playa Del Rey, parking in the neighborhood around the Del Rey Lagoon park. Walk over the sand bluffs and you can run south on the bike path as far as your legs will take you, whether that’s the roughly 2 miles to Dockweiler Beach or beyond to the Beach Cities.
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Trail on a bluff overlooking the ocean
(Rachel Kraus)

Palos Verdes Drive West

Palos Verdes Estates Beach
An approximately four-mile dirt pedestrian path off of Palos Verdes Drive West and Paseo Del Mar wends around the bluffs of Palos Verdes for some beautiful views of the crashing waves and the sprawling city. You can park in designated spots off the road and enjoy feeling literally above it all on your run.
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