Tuesday, 18 October 2011


There's more to Los Angeles, California that meets the travellers eye besides Hollywood and the Lakers. Walk down the beautiful Venice Beach boardwalk and you'll soon end up deeper in Los Angeles County and more specifically the sublime, classic coastal city of Santa Monica. This place has been made famous by tourist T-shirts (most sold here) worn for fashion all around the world, even Australian band Savage Garden wrote a song about here, while Linkin Park named themselves after the Lincoln Park here. It's easy to see from its cool calm and charm to it's recent, redeeming renovations that people love it here.

This towns motto is 'Populus Felix en Urbe Felic', which means 'Fortunate People in a Fortunate Land'. Now if your lucky enough to stay here you'll see exactly why these sentiments ring true. From the beautiful boulevard to a perfect view of the Pacific, this place has everything from the Ocean to one of the nicest drives down the Pacific Highway that you'll take as you head to the magnificent area of Malibu. Still let's keep it here with Monica. She's one beautiful girl.

She features the iconic, arch 'Santa Monica Harbour' sign which leads to the picturesque pier and the place made famous by Tom Hanks's character 'Forrest Gump' and his famous run in the hit Oscar winning movie. It's not time to go home yet however as speaking of Forrest, why not run to the decked out film-famous Bubba Gump restaurant for Shrimp anything or something different? The Santa Monica pier also holds a lot of attractions-old in style and nature-but with classic carousels and talented street performers here still appeals to the new crowd. There's also the iconic 'Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome' Ferris wheel which is a certified 'National Historic Landmark'. The Harbour and pier also makes a perfect place for a date night as it all illuminates that much brighter once the Sun falls on the coast and evening rises. This makes for a great view from Venice but a much more personal experience if your right in the thick of it. Don't get left behind.

To the left or right of the pier there is nothings but beautiful beach to help you get the sand in your feet and really experience California. Under the pier makes for a cool, calm perspective of this hip and happening place, but just be careful-you never know what's down there. After a bathe in the sun and sea why not take a trip back into town and visit Santa Monica's shopping district. This place has stores at the drop of your bag. If you didn't lose your money in the Pacific you may lose it now.

First and foremost lets head downtown to the 'Third Street Promenade' near the wonderful Wilshire Boulevard. Third Street makes for a great start to your 'to do' list. From a big 'Urban Outfitter' to a 'Foot Locker' and all the typical stores you can find your familiar habitual feet and spend, spend, spend here. On these classic, cobbled streets there's also plenty of stalls, independent owned business' and tourist places that help welcome everyone and anyone, along with some peculiar but pretty, prehistoric Dinosaurs sculpted in hedges and cast in iron. Don't forget your camera.

Montana Avenue and Main Street also make for ideal places to shop, still easily the most impressive place to shop is literally the Santa Monica Place. Recently renovated from the design by Frank Gehry. This new place features three floors of boutiques, high-end fashion shops and places to eat. This mall is open to everyone and the sun and was recently made famous by the hip, hot romantic comedy 'Crazy, Stupid Love'. It's the place ladies man Ryan Gosling took funny man Steve Carrel to shop for clothes and girls, so you never know spending a few bucks here might not hurt.

It'll do no harm to visit the great restaurants, cafes and bars in this Coastal city either. From the 'illy's' to the English themed pub, for a great, different experience for everyone not born in the British Isles and a nice home away from home for English tourists. There's also a store here dedicated to everything good and proper British, from souvenirs, to today's papers and the biggest selection of U.K. tea. Now nothing beats a good brew.

Unless its walking round this place at night. From the natural, to the street lights it's glowing if effervescent shine. Santa Monica in the cool of the evening is one of the calmest, classiest places you could hope to visit. There's an atmospheric and ambient feeling about this place at nightfall that can only be described by being there and experiencing it all. No wonder this place is the home of countless celebrities, or movies (like 'Iron Man' or 'Beverly Hills Cop III') -this isn't even the main attraction. This great area located next to the picturesque beauty of the Pacific Palisades is a perfect, laid-back paradise in itself. From the bay to the people, this is one of the realest, genuine resorts you could want to rest or reside in.

Make sure you take your time and take it easy here and stay a few nights. Why not stay in the 'Hotel California', sound familiar? It was good enough for The Eagles and they don't do things until hell freezes over these days. Also the hip and hopping 'Hi International Hostel' for travellers is a great place to meet more like-minded folk in this friendly and welcoming place. Sure this charming place is calm and laid back but there's so much going on here. From the annual Film Festival to the classic Aero Theatre and Criterion Theatre cinemas that have been showing films since the 1930's. Still if you prefer to sit back and relax then sit and watch movies the tranquil Palisades Park is for you.

Not everyone takes it easy here however as just like Venice it's a spot where the health conscious people of L.A. like to work out just like the steep Santa Monica Steps that lead to the serene Santa Monica Canyon. From the serious skateboarding scene to the flat slope that leads to the outstanding Ocean Avenue there's so much to traverse while you travel here. From the sensational sunshine to the depths of an atmospheric dusk and the tranquil trappings of the city at twilight you don't even have to do much for this to be one trip you just won't forget. Remember this place may be tucked in the corner of Los Angeles but it still stands out on the Californian coast. TIM DAVID HARVEY.