Bordered by Venice to the south and Malibu to the north, Santa Monica's claim to fame is its historic pier, built in 1909. The pier,... more » which also marks the finish line for Route 66, is the most practical place to begin a walking tour of Santa Monica. You can park on the pier itself or in the adjacent beach parking lot. Standing on the pier, you get a seagull's view of the beautiful coastline and boardwalk.
Within Santa Monica's 8.3 square miles are many dining, shopping and lodging choices. Many (if not most) of these establishments are located near the beach. Dining choices range from classic diners to award-winning, upscale restaurants. The nice thing is you don't have to pay hefty prices for meals while enjoying ocean views. All along the pier and boardwalk you'll find good, affordably priced eateries.
Ditto for entertainment. Enjoy free to low-cost shows. Besides the regular cast of street performers, catch a seasonal free concert or outdoor movie on the beach.
If you're staying the night, choose from about 37 hotels, ranging from budget to deluxe. For beach-side lodging and dining, check out Shutters on the Beach (www.shuttersonthebeach.com) or sister property Casa Del Mar (www.hotelcasadelmar.com). The view is gorgeous, but keep your eyes open for celebrities.
Whether you're here for an hour or a day, make time to frolic in the sand and surf at Santa Monica or Will Rogers state beaches. less «