The City of Santa Monica has a storied past, a who’s who and a what’s happening present and a bright future. The beachside city in Los Angeles is home to movie stars, oceanfront estates, theme parks, and vast areas of natural beauty. Santa Monica is quickly become the go-to tourist destination on the southern coast of America. Here’s a quick guide of the what-to-do if you find yourself lucky enough to be visiting this sparkling city anytime soon.
1) Santa Monica Beach. First and foremost, let’s talk about that beautiful stretch of white sandy beach that beckons just off the bluff of Ocean Boulevard. Santa Monica Beach. Known for years as the go to destination when Hollywood gets too hot, Santa Monica Beach boasts not only miles of gorgeous sand and tame waves, but also a smooth bike path that travels tens of miles along the coast. This location alone will give you days of to-do, but don’t relax too much in the sun, there’s more to Santa Monica than this famous beach.
2) Muscle Beach/Venice. Just a short bike ride or spirited walk down the bike path to the south, you’ll discover the world renown Muscle Beach and Venice Boardwalk. All types of crazies gesture for your money here: you’ll find fun houses, culture, art, trinkets, great food and bars and unique shopping. You’ll also see Muscle Beach, where Arnold used to pose and posture long before he became the terminator. Today, you’ll find a whole new generation of Bavarian body builders continuing the tradition. If you have time, reserve a paddle tennis court, strap on your sneakers and hit a few balls. This unique to California sport is like a miniature game of tennis; although smaller it more than makes up for its size in terms of pure fun and adrenaline.
3) The Pier. Located at the end of historic Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier first came into prominence way back in the late 1800’s. Named the fun pier back then, the fun part has never come out of its being. A huge Ferris wheel (lit by economically friendly solar panels at night) anchors the rear of the pier while a fun rollercoaster and merry go ’round sit amid carnival games and kid rides at the front. There are plenty of restaurants and fine dining as well as circus performers, fishing, and musical acts and shows at night to entertain you. All of this taking place 35 feet above the calm Pacific water and giving you a view back towards the sprawling city of Angels. The name of the attractions at the pier is Pacific Park.
4) Third Street Promenade. Behind Ocean Boulevard, running parallel to the stretch of beach, lays the Third Street Promenade. After a fresh coat of paint or two back in 1992, the Third Street Promenade has quickly become the go to destination for tourists and locals alike to catch a movie (there are 3 different theaters), catch a bite to eat (there are over 200 restaurants to choose from) or find that perfect pair of pants or gift. There is almost every conceivable brand name store among the 2 mile stretch of shops. And there are no vehicles (or skateboards for that matter) allowed on Third Street; it is a true pedestrian destination. A rarity in LA.
5) Santa Monica Place. Anchoring the southern end of the Third Street Promenade sits the newly renovated (and now ceiling-less) Santa Monica Place. For years, the Santa Monica Place was just another huge mall but after a spirited renovation last summer, the mall went topless and higher end establishments moved in. Now, the mall is a true extension of the Promenade and only adds to the shopping, restaurants and fun you can have in the area.
6) Santa Monica Aquarium. Located just under the Santa Monica Pier, the aquarium is a little known (or publicized) place that is great for children and adults alike.
7) Biking. Santa Monica is quickly becoming a very bike friendly city. There are literally miles of bike paths in and around the city. There are also plenty of bike rental shops around so seeing the city and getting a bit of exercise end up going hand in hand.
8) Angel’s Attic: This is a hidden gem, located on Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. The place is literally filled with hundreds of antique dolls and treasures and serves high tea. A great spot to bring little ones or whittle away a few minutes and catch your breath.
9) Santa Monica Museum of Flying. When the city started out, it was in big part not only to the seaside location but also to the small landing strip Douglas built there as a place to build small planes for the war. Hundreds of the houses in and around the city were first built to hold airline workers and their families. Now, there is a great Museum of Flying located at the Santa Monica airport which displays vintage aircraft and educates you on not only the history of flying, but the history of Santa Monica as well.
10) Palisades Park. Palisades Park is a sprawling palm tree-splattered park that sits atop the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pier and Santa Monica Beach beyond. This 25 acre park is a great place for bikers, hikers, walkers and people watching.
There are plenty of natural and manmade things to see and do while in the tourist friendly city of Santa Monica. Hopefully this short guide serves as a jumping off point for your vacation.