Sun, sand, movie stars.
Santa Monica's crystal seaside and golden brown sandy beaches are the epitome of California living. Jetting from above, along scenic Ocean Avenue, Palisades Park gives a sweeping panoramic view of stunning natural beauty. Further igniting the excitement and energy of Santa Monica is the fresh salt air and ocean mists.
The essence of the city can be found down by the sea where a 22-mile paved oceanfront path is a haven for power walkers, joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists. The path connects Will Rogers and Santa Monica State beaches north from Pacific Palisades and down to Hermosa Beach in the South Bay. Along the path, Santa Monica boasts the widest stretch of sand on the Pacific Coastline.
The original Muscle Beach is a surfside, three-acre al fresco gym that sparked a national fitness craze in the 1930s and 1940s, spawning such greats as Jack LaLanne, Steve Reeves, Vic Tanny and Joe Gold. In 1999, historic Muscle Beach was restored and moved a little further south; it now showcases a fresh set of gymnastic equipment for all ages, a grassy rolling lawn and expansive sand pit by the sea.
The city’s extended backyard includes the 150,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which sandwiches Santa Monica between the sea. The Santa Monica Mountains share hiking trails with mountain bikers, while bird-watching, botany tours and horseback riding are all available. Also along the mountain chain lies Will Rogers Historic Park, where tours of the humorist’s home offer a quick study in cowboy history.
For decades, the city was a favorite health haven for wealthy Easterners and Europeans. It was also the Hollywood hideaway for the likes of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Betty Davis and Joan Crawford. Today it’s home to a variety of producers and film stars.
What to see
The Santa Monica Pier opened originally in l909 and is the city's most visited site. The updated two-acre amusement park has 11 rides, including an old-fashioned Ferris wheel and roller coaster. The historic carousel from l922 has 44 handcrafted gilt and painted horses. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is home to the Bay’s public Marine Education Center, which houses more than 100 species of marine animals and plants including sea stars, crabs, sea urchins, snails, kelp and sea cucumbers.
The California Heritage Museum is set in a converted l894 Queen Anne home, rich with cultural traditions, period rooms with Monterey furniture, photographic displays and changing exhibits.
Santa Monica Society of History and Culture features an exhibition gallery, audiovisual theater, vintage clothing and photographic archives.
Santa Monica has Montana Avenue, Main Street and Pico Boulevard featuring specialty shops. The Third Street Promenade the bustling three-block long pedestrian only strand, is an outdoor center of shopping and dining, and a great stage for people watching. Live music, magicians, mimes and street performers are on every corner. At the Promenade’s south end, Santa Monica Place is a landmark of contemporary architecture designed by the renowned Frank O.Gehry.
Photos via Pixabay