Downtown Santa Monica
Located along the Pacific Coast, Santa Monica is a beautiful beach town with a fascinating history. The neighborhood is rich with opportunities for the beach bum, the foodie, the foodie at heart, and anyone looking to ditch the hectic city life and retreat to a place where people slow down to appreciate life. Here are 20 things you can experience on your trip to Santa Monica that will make you want to return again and again.
Downtown Santa Monica is a bustling hub of activity located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Santa Monica has countless entertainment options for the whole family. From carnival rides to fine dining, Santa Monica has it all. The Santa Monica Pier is the center of this bustling hub, offering a wonderful variety of boardwalk activities like shopping, skating, fishing, and swimming. The pier also houses the Santa Monica Aquarium, which offers an educational and entertaining day out for the whole family. If the Pier isn’t your cup of tea, Santa Monica offers a plethora of shopping options. The Third Street Promenade is home to The Grove, one of LA’s most popular open-air malls, with upscale shops and restaurants. There are also numerous boutiques, art galleries, and vintage shops.
For a year, I lived in Downtown Santa Monica, which is a 10-minute walk from several great restaurants. Some are fancy, some are casual, and some are in Downtown’s massive collection of drab high-rise office buildings, but all of them have free parking in the evenings (from 5 pm-8 pm).
Sushi Roku is Santa Monica’s most famous restaurant, and for good reason. There are a lot of sushi places on the beach, but Sushi Roku is, in my humble opinion, the best. Downtown Santa Monica has a wide variety of shops and unique boutiques, providing a unique shopping experience in the Los Angeles area. Downtown Santa Monica is a great spot to walk around, shop, and people-watch.
Santa Monica is one of the only beach cities that, for the most part, does not live on the beach. Unlike Venice or Santa Barbara, the beach is not part of Santa Monica’s identity or most popular attraction. It is a coastal city, and as such is accessible by car, bus, or bike. The city’s bike lanes, bike paths, and pedestrian-friendly street grid make it easy to navigate around downtown and the beach areas on two wheels. If you’re seeking a more traditional mode, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system has all the bases covered. Buses run from Santa Monica to West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard, or Route 4, and Route 3 runs from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and surrounding areas. Santa Monica’s subway, the Metro Expo Line, opened in May 2016. The train runs between Downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown, and Culver City, and stops at a station in Downtown Santa Monica.
You will find a number of public transportation options in downtown Santa Monica. The most common is the Big Blue Bus. There are also a variety of Metro Rail lines that go through Santa Monica, but only the Expo Line has a station in Santa Monica. For those driving, there are many metered and off-street parking lots. However, there is a higher demand in the summer months, so it is a good idea to plan ahead.
The Cat & Fiddle is a delightful 6-room inn (14 if you count the suites) in Downtown Santa Monica. It’s co-owned by restaurateur Sam Gorenstein and hotelier Paul Tanguay. It’s very close to some of my favorite places in the world: Blue Plate Oysterette, Sam’s on Fourth, The Larder, and L.A. Bread.
You can find many hotels in Downtown Santa Monica. Some of the notable hotels are The Pelican Hill and Hotel Solamar, which is located close to the Santa Monica Pier.Parking in Downtown Santa Monica is frustrating and difficult. If you’re lucky enough to find a space (which is rare), you’ll have to pay $5 per hour to park your car. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be forced to drive around for 20 minutes, like I was today, before giving up and finding a place to park, then you’ll have to pay $5 per hour to park your car.