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Your Guide To Exploring Santa Monica

Aug 29, 2007
Santa Monica first developed into a seaside retreat at the turn of the last century, when railroad owners, in order to fill empty seats on the trains during the weekends, built an amusement park there. Santa Monica has since grown into an urban, eclectic, and very prosperous beach city with estate value ranking among the most expensive in the world. Santa Monica has a geographical location that makes it accessible to major sites like Venice Beach, Malibu, and Beverley Hills.

Santa Monica is located at the western terminus of the 10 Santa Monica Freeway, about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and 7 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport. The city is roughly bounded by Cantilena Blvd to the east, Ocean Park Blvd to the south, San Vicente Blvd to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

The tourist center of Santa Monica is the downtown area located near the famous Santa Monica Pier, which was once the western end of historic Route 66. To get there by car, take the 10 Freeway to the 4th/5th Street exit, then head left toward the ocean. From the north, turn left off the Pacific Coast Highway California 1 at the California Incline, which deposits you just a few blocks north of the pier. Santa Monica is accessible by bus from throughout the Los Angeles region.

Some Things To Do In Santa Monica. There are many, many recreational and cultural opportunities in Santa Monica, including a visit to the famed pier and the many beaches located throughout the city. Here are a few highlights of places that no visit to Santa Monica should be without.

Bergamot Station. A city-owned art gallery compound which includes the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
Montana Avenue. A local street with lots of small stores and restaurants. This is where the local rich folks hang out, so you'll see lots of rich folks shopping, going to Yoga, and walking dogs.
Main Street. A local street that attracts the most surfers and bikers. It is just 2 blocks from the ocean, and is home to many hotspots.

Santa Monica pier, A bustling boardwalk home to the huge ferris wheel that has become the city's icon. The long pier has an old-fashioned amusement park, with reasonable by-the-ride pricing, including a small roller coaster. The pier has restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and some street performers.

At almost all hours you'll find at least a few people fishing as well. The Santa Monica Pier has terrific coastline views of Malibu and the southbay. The Pier is within easy walking distance to the Promenade.
Santa Monica beach is a large, wide, beautiful beach on either side of the pier.

Perry's rents bikes and roller blades or bring your own for use on the world famous strand that links all of the Westside beach cities. For some of the best people watching in the world, follow the strand south a couple of miles to Venice Beach. Hire a bike or skates and travel along the cycle path (there are a number of shops to hire from around and on the pier).

Third Street Promenade (several blocks of Third Street), A very successful Urban mall project: a vibrant, outdoor street full of restaurants, movie theaters, shopping, bookstores, and bars. Those who enjoy street performances will be impressed by the quality of musicians, dancers, and others. The Promenade is located only three blocks from the beach, the Promenade is one of L.A.'s most popular places to "hang out" for people of all ages.

Twilight Dance Series (on the Santa Monica Pier). Thursday evenings in Summer, starting at 7:30PM. The Twilight Dance Series is a free concert series that has been running since 1983. Acts range from rock to reggae to folk and have included artists such as the Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, Los Lobos, Dick Dale and others. There is no organized seating, so arrive early to stake out a spot and bring something soft to sit on since the pier can be hard (note that once concerts start most people end up standing).

These are just some of the many, many fun opportunities that await you in Santa Monica. For your next vacation or weekend getaway, consider a visit to this famous and beautiful city.
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