Santa Monica perches itself nicely between the point where Los Angeles ends and the Pacific Ocean begins. It’s a predictably plum locale, with great weather, sights, and pleasant places to walk around. The beach is of course a major draw, but so is the shopping and dining scene. Speaking of “scene,” do be sure people watch, and perhaps even proactively frolic with the low-key affluent, the ex-hippies, and the jet-set too! A trip to Los Angeles just isn’t complete without a visit to the City of Santa Monica.
Head straight for the coast
The north-south streets number their way in descending order as you go west, approaching the coast, so you’ll know you’re getting close once you are in the single digits. 3rd Street is for shopping (more on that later) and the street-that-would-be-1st is called Ocean Avenue. You’ll want to head right away to this broad, park-lined street that runs atop the cliffs at the Pacific Ocean’s doorstep. Looking west, the Pacific Ocean extends to infinity. Up the coast to the right lies a virtually uninterrupted expanse of white sand beaches leading up to the tony beach community of Malibu. It’s not your eyes deceiving you: Along this part of the west coast, the coastline runs east-west for a some distance as you leave Los Angeles proper.
To your left, and pictured above, is Santa Monica pier, which you can walk down to from the very Ocean Avenue on which you are standing. Rides for kids of all ages, midway games, and even fishing may tempt you into spending an hour or more enjoying the salt air and festive environment. Be sure to try your hand at Skee ball, a bowling-like arcade game that is rarely seen in this age of video entertainment.
Grab a sandwich and brown bag it at Tongva Park
Just south of the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, along the east side of Ocean Avenue, is the brand new public facility, Tongva Park. Grab some food and beverages from “Joan’s on Third” (just a bit further south on Ocean Ave.) or another nearby restaurant, then spread out and bask in this beautiful, peaceful park. Santa Monica is generally sunny, but regardless can be depended on to have clean, ocean air and moderate temperatures, making a stop at the park almost always a highly worthwhile endeavor.
Walk off that lunch on the Third Street Promenade
Starting a block north of the pier along 3rd street is the eponymously named Promenade. As property values have soared, many of the interesting stores of long ago have yielded to installments of mainstream chain stores, but there are still some interesting finds to be made. Outdoor cafes make for a nice coffee or beer stop, or, if the weather is not up to par, duck in to a movie at one of the many theaters along this promenade. Aside from people watching, there are the real, official street performers to ogle at as they try to entertain the masses with various degrees of success.
Santa Monica's a piece of the Los Angeles puzzle
Santa Monica has a little bit of everything, making it something for everyone. Stop on by and drink it all in. It’s quintessentially LA, and beautiful to boot.
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