Open onto the Pacific, Santa Monica is the chic and relaxed seaside town "par excellence." From Venice to Malibu and between the mountains and the ocean, its landscapes are breathtaking, and it will only takes a few hours for you to be amazed by its beauty ...
Its vast beach which stretches for several kilometers is a family- and friend-favorite rendez-vous spot to meet up and relax. Early in the morning you can enjoy its tranquility and admire the surfers, and later in the day you can watch the beautiful sunsets. It’s also a paradise for sport enthusiasts with its beach volleyball courts and its cycling path that runs alongside the ocean. If you don’t have a bike, you will find one at the designated stations or at Perry's, a bike store.
Another must see of the coast is Santa Monica Pier and its wooden pontoon from which you can admire the waves washing up on the shore. As the sign indicates, here lies the end of the famous Route 66 that crosses the United States from east to west. It is also made very popular by the Pacific Park theme park and its big wheel, which, in my opinion, is most captivating at night with all the neon lights.
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the Downtown Farmers Market is the place to be. It is the most renowned in Los Angeles for its high-quality fresh products and is a very rich source of inspiration for the chefs of the city's top restaurants. Its choice is exceptional and if the walk amongst the stalls opens your appetite then I recommend eating lunch at Flower Child next door or walking a little and going to the locals’ favorite spot: Huckleberry.
If you love a good walk, the small paths of Palisades Park overlooking the cliffs are very pleasant. There, you can take the time to admire the breathtaking view of the ocean; however, if you’re more attracted to shopping, Santa Monica is also the place to go with the luxury boutiques of Santa Monica Place on one side and the more accessible shops of 3rd Street Promenade on the other. But if you are really looking for to experience Santa Monica like the locals, then you have to go to Montana Avenue — a shopping street with small designer boutiques and upscale restaurants where you can easily spend the afternoon.
Another area of Santa Monica that I’m very fond of is Ocean Park Blvd. It’s very residential and much less touristy than the other areas with its small family park, library that has not changed since its construction in the 50s and small neighborhood shops. For lunch or brunch, Thyme Cafe & Market is the best address.