Santa Monica California is a beachfront city in the western part of Los Angeles County. It is an easy day trip from Los Angeles via a 45-minute metro ride. Or, you can do what we did, drive there and spend the night. Not only is it a lovely city but it is also the end point of the famed Route 66.
Walk The City
We arrived late in the afternoon and set out on foot to explore the town:
- Third St. Promenade is a a pretty pedestrian street lined with upscale stores and restaurants.
- Palisades Park is a strip of landscaped park that overlooks Santa Monica’s large beach.
- Santa Monica Pier, a 110-year old structure, marks the terminus of the famed Route 66. It contains several tourist restaurants and the Pacific Park amusement park with its famous solar-powered Ferris wheel, Hippodrome with its wood-carved carousel and midway.
- Loew’s Hotel Blue Streak lounge was a good stopping place for a drink overlooking the initial Muscle Beach (now an area with exercise equipment) with a trio playing soft jazz.
The next morning we stopped at the Bergamot Station Arts Center. This large, multi-disciplinary arts venue contains dozens of galleries that one can explore. Although we weren’t especially impressed by most of the collections, we were intrigued by the amazingly comfortable chairs in the Lori Lambert Gallery that were made of wine corks, the multiple carved, painted wooden pieces that looked so much like cloth that you almost had to feel them to see they were all made of wood. Overall, however, we were most taken by the wonderful selection of works (especially oils) at the Kevin Barry Gallery—especially the works of Kim Knoll and the tongue-in-cheek representation of Washington crossing the Delaware River where the crew consisted of several of the artist’s friends who appeared to be having very good times. The complex also contains a theater and a café.
Santa Monica Restaurant
We only had one meal in the city. We had a patio table at Water Grill on Ocean Avenue, across from Palisades Park. Our bottle of 2019 Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc worked perfectly with our two savory dishes: Hamachi nachos (slices of raw Hamachi on yucca chips with Asian pear and marcona almonds); and Ross Sea Chilean seabass on a bed of cauliflower puree with lemon chutney and hazelnuts. These were followed be a good, but “less wonderful” dessert of bread pudding with salted caramel ice cream.
Santa Monica Hotel
We stayed at the Courtyard Santa Monica. Its great location was right by a metro stop and a short walk to the pier. Parking is an issue here and not surprisingly, valet parking is expensive at $45 a night (or you could find a nearby garage). We had a large king room with a microwave and coffee machine. We were also given a voucher for coffee in the lobby if we wanted it. The room is not soundproof but not disturbing. We could hear TV sounds and footsteps from above. The staff was very good and polite. For walkers like us who like to be in the right location, it was a nice stop.