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western usa travel, tourist and visitor information guide
Santa Monica, California - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

West of the 405 Freeway is Santa Monica. A huge sprawling city itself of immense economic diversity with its own neighborhoods.

For teens and tourists, the mall, the pier and the boardwalk are big draws – for other LA natives – not so much. But LA natives will tolerate the 3rd street promenade as it’s one of the few areas of Santa Monica with nice restaurants AND parking. For shopping, Santa Monica has little hidden pockets like Montana Street and others who are willing to venture off the beaten path.

Santa Monica definitely has everything to relieve you of your stress while travelling. You can forget your worries (if you have any) and play vollyball, bike, rollerblade or just take it easy in the sand. For the more active traveller the Santa Monica mountains are there where you can hike.

If people watching is what you're really after, go to the Santa Monica Pier for its boardwalk ambience. The heart of Santa Monica is the 3rd St Promenade, a sort of small mall where you can find about anything and where musicians and mimes perform and artists sketch among sidewalk cafés and shops. The famous Santa Monica pier, built between 1908 and 1921, is the oldest pleasure pier on the West Coast.

Besides the friendly beaches Santa Monica also offers nice restaurants and perfect bars for dancing or just to simply take a cup of coffee there during daytime... So, come and see the things Santa Monica has to offer and if you want you can visit the nearby Beverly Hills, Hollywood or Pasadena.

SIGHTS

The Santa Monica Pier is the oldest pleasure pier on the west coast. It's the premier beach attraction Santa Monica has to offer. You will find on the Pier the historic Looff Hippodrome building and carousel, the spectacular rides and games of the new Pacific Park, shops, restaurants and a fishing balcony. Sometimes there are free concerts during the summer. For information; the Pier Restoration Corporation (310) 458-8900.

At the Looff Hippodrome Building, on the Santa Monica Pier there is a 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan carousel which was brought to the Pier in 1946. The 44- original hand-painted horses were restored in 1981 and were featured in the movie 'The Sting' with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Rides are not expensive.

Pacific Park, also on the Santa Monica Pier is a open park with a tall Ferris wheel, an oceanfront rollercoaster and many more nice things which make an ideal place for you and your family to visit.

Underneath the Pier is the UCLA Discovery Center, it is a high-tech, interactive which concentrates on the ecology of the Pacific Ocean. Admission is $3. The Center is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays only from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. During the summer Tuesday-Friday 3 - 6 p.m. Call (310) 393-6149 for information.

There is an international Chess Park on the beachfront, feel free to join in for a play as it is suitable for beginners and experts.

Palisades Park is the most well known of all Santa Monica's parks. From this spot you can overlook the Pacific Ocean, offering a beautiful view of the Bay from Palos Verdes Peninsula to Malibu. You can enjoy the green surroundings and marvel at the vieuw.

SHOPPING

There are three important downtown shopping districts. Main Street, Third Street Promenade/Santa Monica Place and Montana Avenue are hosting fashion stores, book shops, gift shops and even clothing from Hollywood motion pictures.

In Main Street there is still the art deco style of the old days present. You will find many art galleries, antique shops and other interesting shops here. At the Frank O.Gehry designed Edgemar, there are many avantgarde fashion shops and galleries with Warhol or even Mondrian.

The Third Street Promenade is a lively shopping steet with many performers and nice places for a cup of coffee or just to sit down and watch. In particular it is known for it's collection of bookshops. On Lincoln Boulevard at the North of the downtown area you will find the Santa Monica Antique Market.

Montana Avenue also north of downtown is a flashy place where the rich and famous go shopping. Especially fashion and design clothing can be found here.

The biggest market in the state is the Farmer's Market. Here you can go for the renowned California fruits and vegetables delivered fresh. Maybe even some flowers? Wednesday's markets at 2nd and Arizona bring out many people and on Saturday you may spot some chef's buying their goods for dinner.

For contemporary art you can visit the many galleries at Bergamot Station at Cloverfield and Olympic.

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