The beach resorts of Greater Los Angeles have recently been under the spotlight in a whole host of US films and television programmes, providing great exposure of their boutique shopping, chic dining and of course superb beaches. If you want to wake each morning to the sound of the surf and enjoy days in a seaside atmosphere, yet still have easy access to Los Angeles’ attractions, one of California’s beaches is an ideal choice.
Just 20 minutes from downtown LA, Santa Monica is perhaps one of the states most popular spots, and rightly so. Infamous Santa Monica Pier, bustling with fairground rides and candy stores jets out above the glorious golden beaches, where you can hire a bike and cycle the boardwalks down to Venice Beach. Main Street, 3rd Street Promenade and Montana Avenue collectively provide all the shopping options you could desire. Watch out for celebrities, it’s widely recognised that many prefer the boutiques of Santa Monica to Rodeo Drive!
10 Reasons to Visit Santa Monica
1. A top 10 beach city of the world.
2. Just 8 miles from LAX Airport – that’s the closest destination to the airport.
3. Santa Monica Beach was the beach setting for Baywatch!
4. Home to one of the USA’s oldest pleasure piers and the world’s first Solar-Powered ferris wheel, which was one of the most Instagrammed images of the world in 2012.
5. It’s at the end of Route 66.
6. It’s an entirely walkable city – pedestrians and cyclists are king of the road.
7. It’s one of the best places for happy hour in USA, infact the Shangri-La hotel in Santa Monica was recently voted as the best bar in the USA for happy hour.
8. Santa Monica is the birth place for many of the world’s most famous fitness movements. Stroll along the beach and you will no doubt see people working-out right on the sand.
9. There are over 90 art galleries and museums in this cosy city.
10. It’s rated the best place to dine in LA with a variety of food movements, famous chefs and an organic farm-to-table mantra.
Things to see and do in Santa Monica
• Home of Baywatch
• 35km bicycle path.
• Original Muscle Beach by the pier.
• Segway along the beach path.
• Electric Bike Tours.
• Bikes, roller blades, surf and paddle board lessons.
• Pacific Park on the Pier is LA’s only free admission amusement park.
• The Loof Hippodrome on the Pier is a local landmark housing a vintage, working carousel.
• The End of Route 66 Sign is a popular photo spot.
• The Aquarium is great for all the family.
• Santa Monica Place Shopping Mall houses world-famous designers and department stores.
• 3rd Street Shopping Promenade offers the best of the highstreet.
• Montana Avenue is home to designer boutiques.
• Main Street offers eclectic and original boutiques and stores.
Art & Culture:
• Santa Monica is home to 90 galleries and museums, street performers and architectural landmarks.
• California History Museums
• Santa Monica History Museum
• Santa Monica Museum of Art/Bergamot Station Centre
Dining & Drinking in Santa Monica
Our favourites for…
• Healthy brunch - Huckleberry Café & Bakery
• Watching sports: Barney’s Beanery
• Happy Hour: The Misfit
• Local chefs: JiRaffe
• Farmers markets: Every Wednesday and Saturday
• Steak: Boa Steakhouse
• Romance: Michel’s Santa Monica
• Raw foodies: M.A.K.E.
• Michelin star lover: Melisse
• Street food (during the day): Food Truck Tuesdays, every Tuesday
• Family dining: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
• Seafood with Pacific views: The Lobster
• Celeb spotting in the daylight: Any café on Montana Avenue
• Trendy night crowd: Bungalow at The Fairmont hotel
• Evening drinks with rooftop views: Suite 700 Bar at The Shangri-La hotel
• 360 views of LA: The Penthouse at The Huntley hotel
• Food on the beach: Back on the Beach Café