Cheap flights to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are available from Adelaide and Canberra Airports and will typically include a domestic flight to Sydney or Melbourne. Departures are available from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane International Airports with American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and Virgin Australia all offering cheap flights. Connecting flights running through Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul are available exiting Darwin on Singapore Airlines. Cheap flights departing Perth International Airport may include a domestic flight along the east coast or route through Hong Kong before flying into LAX. Australian passport holders are eligible for the United States Visa Waiver Programme. Organize this prior to departure via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) website for a stay no more than 90 days. A taxi fare from LAX into Santa Monica should cost no more than $50 including the tip. The LAX FlyAway offers services Downtown to Union Station where a connection with the Big Blue Bus transfers passengers into Santa Monica. The most time efficient way to see Santa Monica and it’s surrounds is by car. There are several car rental companies operating courtesy phones from inside the LAX terminals which include a courtesy shuttle service to their premises.
The streets and freeways of Southern California have excellent signage and Santa Monica’s grid-like layout makes for easy navigation. Public transport is also cheap. The Metro Bus services destinations outside the Santa Monica are and the Big Blue Bus offers coverage around the city. The best way to discover beautiful Santa Monica is with a combination of cycling, walking, public transport, taxis and spontaneous self-drive tours.
Santa Monica has something for everyone so make sure there’s plenty of time to explore. Visit the Santa Monica Museum of Modern Art, the galleries at Bergamot Station or model clay at Earthstone Pottery. The Museum of Flying is a great way to spend a few hours as are the quirky doll displays at Angel’s Attic. Hire a bike for a cheap afternoon and peddle alongside the beautiful white sand or hike through the Santa Monica mountains. Adventurers head to The Trapeze School, join a beach volleyball game or rollerblade along the boardwalk. Of course theme parks Universal Studios, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags are close by, but avoid the extreme crowds and hang out at the Santa Monica Pier. Climb to the top of the Santa Monica Stairs for a magnificent sunrise and be amused/bemused by the bronze of Muscle Beach. Don’t leave this beachside wonder without at least one ride on the iconic Ferris wheel if only to say you did.
Santa Monica Place is a gorgeous mall with department, speciality and chain stores in an open-air setting. Visit nearby Beverly Centre or the boutique offerings of Montana Ave. For discount buys visit the Camarillo Premium Outlets, rummage through TJ Maxx and find unbelievable bargains at Ross Dress for Less. Mélisse is Santa Monica’s most famous fine dining spot and the best introduction is via the degustation menu. Try Monkfish at reasonably priced JiRaffe or pork belly at Chinois. Taco’s Por Favor has a huge selection of cheap, mouth-watering Mexican or visit Earth, Wine & Flour for a customized pizza. Drink wine at stylish Bodega Wine Bar or Sonoma Wine Garden. Sip cocktails at Loews and seek out happy hour at Xino. Unwind at The Yard or party Santa Monica style at The Room and Zanzibar.