The last stop on the legendary Route 66, Santa Monica is a captivating city on the fringe of Los Angeles. Boasting an impressive five kilometre coastline, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, sun seekers and even the odd celebrity or two. Not to be outshone by its city neighbour Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a must see destination in its own right, with world class restaurants and endless shopping opportunities. Here are five reasons why Santa Monica should be on the top of your bucket list.
The surrounding waters of Santa Monica are famous for a reason. This beautiful stretch of coastline really is one of California’s best beaches and offers a myriad of activities. Swim in the salty water or take your first surfing lesson. Stroll along the shores and relive scenes from your favourite movie or television series. Beach volley is a popular pastime or hire a bicycle and make your way along the seemingly endless oceanfront path.
The Santa Monica Pier is the epitome of fun. It’s easy to spot with the iconic giant Ferris wheel towering above the waves. Enjoy the amusement park atmosphere and take the kids on one of the 12 rides including the wild rollercoaster. There’s also a fantastic aquarium, home to over 100 species of marine animals, including sharks and rays. At the very least, grab some fairy floss or an old fashioned ice cream soda from Soda Jerks.
In recent times, Santa Monica has emerged as a vibrant food destination, with many renowned chefs choosing to open their restaurants at this beachside location. Along the esplanade, you’ll find a myriad of cafes to try, while Ocean Park Boulevard offers an assortment of restaurants. The diversity means there is a dining establishment for every taste and budget, from authentic Italian to fresh seafood and tasty American fare. Santa Monica is also renowned for its numerous Farmer’s Markets that pop up throughout the week.
If you have a burning desire to shop, then Santa Monica is your answer. Take a stroll down Montana Avenue for trendy fashion boutiques and jewellery stores. Just two blocks from the beach is Santa Monica Place, an upscale shopping mall filled with all your favourite American chains. Get your dose of retail therapy at one of the many department stores, including Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Macys.
The Great Outdoors
Santa Monica is a laid back beachside city that oozes sophistication and charm. Although it is often touted as a playground for the rich and famous, it is not pretentious in the slightest. People of all ages are here to enjoy the great outdoors. Watch the locals gather at Chess Park to battle it out at one of the permanent chess tables or see young ones working out at Muscle Beach. Kids gather at the beachside playgrounds, while many go skating or rollerblading down the esplanade. Grab a fishing pole and try your luck on the pier or go for a dolphin watching cruise.