From spa hotels to upscale boutiques, Santa Monica's stylish stays lie mostly along the mile-long coastline, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A few blocks from the sand and the city's famous pier, downtown Santa Monica accommodation is less glam but closer to shopping, dining, and nightlife. For the traveler on a budget, more modestly-priced hotels are located farther inland.
Santa Monica's gorgeous coastline may be its primary draw, but it also lures visitors with its vast array of shopping options. Alfresco malls allow you to soak up the sun as you drop some cash, while elegant boutiques and cool vintage shops will lend your wardrobe an enviable dash of California cool. Hungry for fresh treats? Foodies will flip for the city's various local farmers markets.
Sun, surf, and sand are likely the first things to pop into your head when you think about Santa Monica. And it's true: The spectacular coastline, with about 3 miles of beachfront, is the star attraction of this quintessential Southern California city. But oceanfront bike rides, amusement park thrills, world-class restaurants, and farm-fresh markets are also a big part of Santa Monica's appeal.
Year-round warm weather greets visitors who flock to Santa Monica for its outdoor recreation and cultural scene. Backed by mountains and sandstone cliffs, more than 3 miles of coastline with calm Pacific waters are a top draw. But a wander beyond the beach reveals stroll-friendly city streets lined with dining, shopping, and entertainment options that entice sightseers from across the globe.
Santa Monica may sleep earlier than its Hollywood neighbor, but it still parties after sundown. Happy hours are found in nearly every corner of the city, from beachfront cafés and swanky wine bars, to neighborhood taverns and upscale lounges. Those with stamina can enjoy live music joints and dance clubs pumping into the wee hours.
Fun and seaside sun await families visiting Santa Monica, where soft sands meet calm ocean waters. But beyond the oceanfront lie activities for all ages, from playgrounds for tots to a theme park that satisfies both teens and parents. Educational entertainment is found at a kid-friendly aviation museum and at an aquarium, while shopping options aimed at adults also have attractions for little ones.
Although Santa Monica's reputation hinges on its 3.5-mile stretch of dazzling coastline, the city also offers plenty of interesting cultural diversions when you want to step away from the beach for a bit. Contemporary art has found a home in Santa Monica's myriad galleries, while both classic and experimental theater and film productions have cemented this city as a breeding ground for emerging talent.
Santa Monica's seaside positioning plays a large part in its cuisine, and its beachy attitude inspires a health-minded philosophy. Fresh local fish and organic produce are popular menu items, while the famous Sunday Main Street Farmers Market is a tasty draw. It's not all kale and sprouts, however. There's a weekly gathering of food trucks serving up hearty American and Mexican favorites, along with European specialties.
Developed as a seaside retreat in the early 20th century, Santa Monica has grown into one of America's most desirable destinations. Its warm, sunny weather, easygoing vibe, and beachside location draws a cross section of inhabitants from affluent professionals and families to surfers and students. The city is known for its constellation of activities like biking and surfing, as well as cultural outposts, upscale shops, and a respected film festival.
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