The place where I witness the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life… Santa Monica! Santa Monica was a real surprise for me, maybe because my expectations of LA were overshadowed by Hollywood and Beverly Hills. In any case, as my trip was winding down I was completely in love with this beautiful place. Santa Monica is a part of LA, but like many parts of LA, it is a small town in its own right with a population of just under 100,000 people. It is a short walk from its famous neighborhood Venice Beach, it is lively and sophisticated. The hippy crowd that makes Venice beach so famous is replaced by a more trendy and posh community. The beach is clean, well lifeguarded and with public restrooms and changing rooms. Compared to other parts of LA, there are fewer vagrants, it is common to see families and yet there is an active nightlife and ample restaurants and bars.
Santa Monica is famous for the Pacific Park and its Ferris wheel located on the Santa Monica Pier which was opened to the public in 1909. It is actually the first concrete pier on the West Coast. The Santa Monica Pier attracts large numbers of people and is 24/7 while Pacific Park is typically open daily from 11a.m to 12a.m. Every weekend, you can join a historical walking tour to find out more about the route and fun tidbits about the beachy landmark and it is free.
This beach is a perfect place for swimming, surfing, biking and beachside gymnastics. And this is where I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. It was the defining moment of my LA vacation. Everybody on the beach froze to catch the moment because a picture says more than 1000s of words! The picture I captured has been my screensaver since.
Close to the Pier, you can also find one of most popular Ivy restaurants in the world… Ivy at the shore. It is probably one of the sweetest restaurants ever, with the fresh flowers everywhere and impeccable décor, it really looks like something out of a fairytale. The restaurant looks very warm and cosy but it is also one of the most expensive and very popular among celebrities. The food is excellent and the portions are large. The service is friendly, fast and fun. I give the Ivy my sincere recommendation to couples, families or groups of friends looking for a great time with wonderful food: http://theivyrestaurants.com/ivy-at-the-shore/.
In the center of Santa Monica, there is a pedestrian zone named Third Street Promenade. I is very lively, full of boutiques and street artists like the three years old professional drummer and a charismatic black lady who will knock you out while singing Con te partiro. The Third Street Promenade is located between Wilshire Blvd and Broadway and it is perfect place to do some shopping and have a lunch. There are many small restaurants, palms and sun are enough to enjoy your day in Santa Monica… and just three blocks away from the beach. I just loved this place.
There is also a very nice shopping mall so you can find at all the famous brands including Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany, Michael Kors etc.
When it comes to the public transport, I have to say that Santa Monica is very well connected. From the Santa Monica downtown, next to the Third Street Promenade there is a bus stop for a bus 704 (first stop) which is perfect because you can explore some interesting LA neighborhood considering it goes throw Beverly Hills and Hollywood. The bus ride is almost like a city tour and costs only $1.75 (one way). From Santa Monica to Hollywood you need about an hour and a half. If you are planning to use public transport often, your best off buying a TAP card (costs $1) and load it up with $8 so you can use public transport all day (not 24 hours, only that day before midnight).
It is good to know that in Beverly Hills and Hollywood people don’t use public transport that much (they are too rich I guess J) so the bus was almost empty. I definitely recommend this bus but if you prefer a taxi than you should be ready to spend around $250 for a ride from Santa Monica to Hollywood and return. Also, you can use Uber which is half price.
At the same bus stop, you can take buses to the airport: bus number 3 and R3. The price is $1,25 (one way) and it takes an hour to the LAX airport.
Santa Monica is a place full of great restaurants where you can eat for a reasonable price and enjoy good atmosphere. I recommend two places Blue Daisy and The Misfit Restaurant + Bar.
Blue Daisy is a great restaurant just a few minutes from the downtown. It is a perfect place for breakfast or brunch where you can taste excellent burgers or American pancakes but also amazing Turkish “borek”. The owners are Turkish, so it’s really authentic. Every day there is a happy hour for drinks and food. The wood, stone and flowers make this place perfectly cozy… the right place to start your day in Santa Monica. Definitely my recommendation… www.bluedaisycafe.com.
The Misfit Restaurant + Bar, is actually a bar – restaurant hybrid, located in the very center of Santa Monica. It has a great atmosphere, and an amazing bar with a large variety of drinks and… books! It’s a great place with great food. I recommend white sangria, veggie burgers and salads. www.themisfitrestaurant.com
For all information about Santa Monica you can check official website: www.santamonica.com