An Overview ofSanta Monica
Santa Monica is located in western Los Angeles County and stretches about 8.3 square miles. Long a popular resort destination for tourists, the city is home to some 90,000 permanent residents.
Of course, one can’t talk about the city without mentioning the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. Built in 1909, the famed attraction features a solar-paneled Ferris wheel, a small amusement park, an aquarium, and live performances.
The city is divided into eight neighborhoods that each have a distinct vibe. They are:
Downtown Santa Monica
The downtown district has the highest concentration of restaurants, shops, and hotels in the city. It’s anchored by two major shopping malls: Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place. Locals and tourists alike also drop by for the twice-weekly farmers market.
Main Street has an undeniably laid-back vibe, which is exemplified by the countless coffee shops found here. It’s also home to Ten Women and Edgemar Center for the Arts, two galleries that feature some of the area’s top contemporary artists.
If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, head over to Mid-City, Santa Monica’s arts and entertainment center. Be sure to visit Bergamot Station, which has one of L.A.’s largest contemporary art collections. Various entertainment companies are also headquartered in the area.
Montana Avenue is undoubtedly the ritziest neighborhood in Santa Monica. This community—and the area just north of it—boasts some of the most impressive luxury houses in the city. It’s also the best place to do some high-end shopping, thanks to a 10-block stretch that’s lined with boutique shops and high-fashion stores.
Ocean Park Boulevard
Ocean Park Boulevard exudes a folksy charm that’s evident in its independent coffee shops, local stores, and boutique art galleries. The area also has close ties to aviation, as both the Santa Monica Municipal Airport and the Museum of Flying are located here.
As the most ethnically diverse district, Pico Boulevard is the cultural melting pot of Santa Monica. It’s known for its beautiful street art, the historic Casa del Mar Hotel, and its local farmers market.
The home of the famed Santa Monica Pier, this area is the city’s premier entertainment district. The palm tree-lined avenue and oceanfront views are amazing in themselves, but it’s the amusement park that really put Santa Monica on the map. There’s a plethora of open-air bars and restaurants here, as well as a selection of luxurious hotels.
Those looking for a family-friendly neighborhood would do well to check out Wilshire Boulevard. This district is close to Douglas Park and its playing fields and lawn bowling alleys. It’s also close to Third Street Promenade and its bustling shopping malls.
Santa Monica’s strategic location means that many of Southern California’s most popular destinations are but a short drive away, including Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios Hollywood, Venice Beach, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and even Disneyland. This is made possible by a matrix of highways that include Interstate 10 and California State Highways 1 and 2. Flying in and out of Santa Monica is also a cinch, as Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is only 20 minutes away by car.