There’s lots to see and do in Santa Monica

There’s lots to see and do in Santa Monica
You are looking at the historic Santa Monica Pier from the north side. This iconic landmark and the ceremonial terminus of the old Route 66 was built in 1909. The Ferris wheel is one-of-a-kind, powered by solar panels. You can also see the rails of the Blue Streak Racer, a wooden roller coaster that once belonged to the long-gone Wonderland amusement park in San Diego. Dozens of TV shows, music videos and films have been made here, including “Titanic,” “Forrest Gump,” “Elmer Gantry,” “Iron Man,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family” and “Amazing Race.” (Photos by Laurie Brindle)

 

It’s a beautiful October afternoon in Santa Monica, and we’ve got 40 hours, our walking shoes and a room at the Shore Hotel, wonderfully located across the street from the Santa Monica Pier. So what to see and do and where to start?

There used to be two run-down hotels on this Ocean Boulevard property where the architecturally striking Shore Hotel now sits. It’s close to everything that’s fun in Santa Monica, and is the West Coast’s first LEED Gold certified hotel. That means it was designed, built and operates to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. It’s not easy being green, though. The owners, the Farzam family, built with 50 percent recycled materials and included features like low-flow toilets and showers, recycle containers in every room, bamboo towels and linens and LED lights.

There used to be two run-down hotels on this Ocean Boulevard property where the architecturally striking Shore Hotel now sits. It’s close to everything that’s fun in Santa Monica, and is the West Coast’s first LEED Gold certified hotel. That means it was designed, built and operates to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. It’s not easy being green, though. The owners, the Farzam family, built with 50 percent recycled materials and included features like low-flow toilets and showers, recycle containers in every room, bamboo towels and linens and LED lights.

These are problems we are glad to have.

One thing Venice Beach does not lack is color. Murals like this have been painted on buildings and other structures near everywhere. For the life of me, I can’t find out exactly how many there are (maybe because it’s not a static number), but I think it’s about 45. Google “Venice Beach walking tour” and you’ll get a map.

One thing Venice Beach does not lack is color. Murals like this have been painted on buildings and other structures near everywhere. For the life of me, I can’t find out exactly how many there are (maybe because it’s not a static number), but I think it’s about 45. Google “Venice Beach walking tour” and you’ll get a map.

My friend, Laurie, who grew up not far from here, and I are loosely plotting how best to see this popular area using one guiding principle: We will not get in our car again until it’s time to leave.

You won’t find a more gorgeous walking path than Palisades Park, a beautifully landscaped green space that sits on the bluff above the Santa Monica State Beach. It extends more than 1.5 miles (one way) and its 26-acres are home to more than 30 varieties of plants and trees. And oh yes, the view is something to write home about!

You won’t find a more gorgeous walking path than Palisades Park, a beautifully landscaped green space that sits on the bluff above the Santa Monica State Beach. It extends more than 1.5 miles (one way) and its 26-acres are home to more than 30 varieties of plants and trees. And oh yes, the view is something to write home about!

Staying at the Shore Hotel makes that goal easy to achieve.

The five-year-old boutique hotel give us easy access to the historic pier, Palisades Park, several shopping areas, Venice Beach and the canal-lined neighborhood of Venice.

As Laurie posited, these are the places to which you bring your Midwest friends; these iconic locations and their inhabitants personify stereotypical Southern California and in this case, that’s not a bad thing.

You can stroll down the 3rd Street Promenade, a bustling shopping district just two blocks from the Shore Hotel and Santa Monica State Beach, and find street entertainment like this saxophonist on every block. Little kids were dancing in the street to his music. We had a late lunch on a nearby patio which gave us ringside seats for people watching.

You can stroll down the 3rd Street Promenade, a bustling shopping district just two blocks from the Shore Hotel and Santa Monica State Beach, and find street entertainment like this saxophonist on every block. Little kids were dancing in the street to his music. We had a late lunch on a nearby patio which gave us ringside seats for people watching.

Who from Detroit, Duluth or Des Moines does not want to slide through the sand and surf; mingle with Rastafarians and rollerbladers and ride the rollercoaster; take in the eclectic architecture and eye-popping murals; and watch the buskers, hipsters and tattoo artists?

Surely, it’s all something to write home about. So here are our postcards to those who wish they were here.

We walked through this Venice neighborhood (actually part of the city of Los Angeles), definitely the best (and almost only) way to see it. It is wonderfully eclectic, with its modest Craftsman homes, Bavarian retreats and ultra-modern dwellings. Originally called Venice of California, the canals were envisioned and built in 1905 by Abbot Kinney, a tobacco millionaire. Most of the original canals have been paved over to serve the growing population of cars, but this neighborhood escaped that fate because there were too few residents to create a tax base to pay for the roads. (Hooray!) After decades of decay and a $6 million infusion, the canals re-opened 23 years ago this week. Some residents had worked for 25 years to revitalize them. The canals draw water from Marina del Rey and the tides cause small changes in the water levels.

We walked through this Venice neighborhood (actually part of the city of Los Angeles), definitely the best (and almost only) way to see it. It is wonderfully eclectic, with its modest Craftsman homes, Bavarian retreats and ultra-modern dwellings. Originally called Venice of California, the canals were envisioned and built in 1905 by Abbot Kinney, a tobacco millionaire. Most of the original canals have been paved over to serve the growing population of cars, but this neighborhood escaped that fate because there were too few residents to create a tax base to pay for the roads. (Hooray!) After decades of decay and a $6 million infusion, the canals re-opened 23 years ago this week. Some residents had worked for 25 years to revitalize them. The canals draw water from Marina del Rey and the tides cause small changes in the water levels.

(For more photos, visit www.facebook.com/elouise.ondash.)

E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at eondash@coastnewsgroup.com

 

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