Muscle Beach refers to either Muscle Beach Venice, an area in Venice, California, United States, on Ocean Front Walk two blocks north of Venice Boulevard or to Original Muscle Beach, the actual and original location of "Muscle Beach", located on the beach two miles north of Venice, just south of Santa Monica Pier.
From the 1930s till the present the original Muscle Beach is located in Santa Monica immediately south of the Santa Monica Pier. Popular gymnastic exhibitions were routinely held there on city-provided equipment. However, in the late fifties, the crowds of spectators reportedly got too big for the City to deal with, and it wanted to turn the space into parking lots. It was also rumored that the owners of the Ocean Park Pier were upset that the free shows were drawing their paying customers away from the Pier, and the owners of the Surf Rider Hotel found the entire scene offensive. Outcry over an alleged rape (bodybuilders were caught partying with underage girls) at the site led the city to shut it down in 1959, and re-open in 1960 without the weightlifting platform.
The site of Muscle Beach Venice has inherited the modern fame and attention that was initially generated by the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, as the weight lifting platform from this earlier facility had been removed by the City of Santa Monica due to difficulties in the day-to-day maintenance and supervision of the original Muscle Beach site in 1959. Yet the original regulars of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica continued to congregate at the world-famous setting with an emphasis on gymnastics events, acrobatics and adagio training and performances.
In 1989, the City of Santa Monica officially rededicated the original Muscle Beach and today it serves gymnasts, acrobats and youth with an extensive gymnastics training area. Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department has continued the primary barbell, weightlifting and bodybuilding activities and events of the original Muscle Beach fame at the Venice weight pen. In 1987, the City of Los Angeles officially dedicated "Muscle Beach Venice" with the added word of 'Venice' in the title to distinguish it from the original "Muscle Beach" in Santa Monica.
Today it is an open playground for with a gated area that encloses weight lifting equipment, the second area is a sand box with gymnastic, rope climbing, and acrobatic bars.