Although Los Angeles has a reputation for freeways, traffic, and smog, there is a beautiful oasis that borders the city limits and is along the Pacific that welcomes millions of visitors every year. Santa Monica extends along the beach from Venice all the way up to the Pacific Palisades and is home to dozens of high rise hotels, fine dining, shopping and of course pristine beaches, parks and sunshine. A stroll through Santa Monica will have any visitor feeling like they have left LA and are in the middle of a luxurious resort only found in Mexico or the Mediterranean. Santa Monica offers sights and attractions for the entire family.
The main area of interest when visiting Santa Monica is along the shoreline where Ocean Ave is the dominant thoroughfare for which shopping, dining and accommodations all extend off into separate streets. All along Ocean Ave are hundreds of tall and thick palm trees that extend up and down as far as the eye can see. As Ocean Ave runs parallel to the beach, the bright blue of the Pacific Ocean is always visible from any points along the avenue. Ocean Avenue runs along a cliff and below the street is where the beaches and bike paths begin. Dozens of hotels line Ocean Avenue and face out on to the Ocean affording guests spectacular views. Several dining options are available along Ocean Ave as well from five star restaurants to smaller cheaper family dining outposts that only seat a few. Several streets such as Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Broadway and Montana intersect with Ocean Ave and offer visitors additional choices in dining and shopping.
The Third Street Promenade is two blocks inland from the ocean and Ocean Ave. In the last decade the Third Street Promenade has transformed itself into one of the biggest shopping destinations in Los Angeles. Extending almost half a mile from Wilshire Blvd down to Broadway, the Promenade is a street closed to cars and consists of a brick road, lined by palm trees, kiosks and dozens of high end stores from home furnishings to fashion. On the weekends many street performers come out and perform a variety acts from music to acrobatic stunts as crowds gather and watch. The Third Street Promenade is not lacking when it comes to dining with a variety of choices from hamburgers to Chinese to Pizza lining the route. There are two movie theaters and a major mall under construction slated to open in late 2010 at the termination point of the Promenade at Broadway. Several streets run parallel to Third Street including 4th Street and 2nd Street, each of these streets also provide a variety of shopping and dining opportunities as well.
Extending off of Ocean Ave and out into the Pacific is the Santa Monica Pier. One can easily spend a day here with the Ferris wheel, roller coaster, stalls, aquarium, fishing and restaurants. The pier is friendly to families and allows for a variety of fun activities. The pier just celebrated its 100th anniversary and installed a brand new Ferris wheel; where at the top guests can see clear down into Venice Beach, up to Malibu and out to Catalina Island. There are many bicycle and skate rental shops at the foot of the pier where the more active set can take off along the Santa Monica path along the beach.
Santa Monica is a trip in itself and when visiting Los Angeles appropriate time should be made to spend a day or two in this beautiful neighborhood on the beach. In good traffic, Santa Monica is only less than thirty minutes from Hollywood and twenty from Beverly Hills.
For more information on visiting Santa Monica, see journeycontinent.com's visiting Los Angeles Guide.