In Santa Monica, one of the upshots of possessing such a spectacular setting and location is that many TV shows and big screen movies have used Santa Monica for their scenes and backdrops, a great deal of which take place along the delightful Ocean Front Walk. Here you will find oodles of shops, restaurants, a row of volleyball courts, benches, palm trees, and a stone-walled sandbox featuring a concrete Viking ship, peppered all along a wide, paved footpath.
It’s all part of the city’s easy navigation via foot, bike, and very easy to use public transportation system—The Big Blue Bus—which connects Santa Monica with areas all over Los Angeles. For those choosing to explore on two wheels, you will find a plethora of bike rental places on seemingly every corner, including the new Santa Monica Bike Center, reportedly the largest of its kind in the nation.
In addition to road, mountain, cruiser, tandem, elliptigo and electric bikes, they offer a wide array of cabbie, kids’, tagalong and wagons, plus Segways. And, you can take advantage of the center’s and the city’s popular, guided and self-guided “bikeinteraries” and tours, to explore the area’s history, urban farms, street art, beach communities and other area spots. While you’re out and about, you’ll no doubt visit one of Santa Monica’s biggest draws – their famed Santa Monica Pier. Located at the intersection of Ocean and Colorado, the 1,600-foot-long concrete pier, originally built to satisfy the city’s sanitation needs, first opened to the public in 1909. But it wasn’t long, due to its immense popularity with local entrepreneurs and visitors, before other entities were added to make it more of a tourist destination.
Today the iconic Pier encompasses a 1922 Looff Hippodrome Carousel which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark; a Playland Arcade chock full of 200-plus games and attractions; and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, home to more than 100 species of marine animals and plants from around Santa Monica Bay, plus hands-on presentations and interactive exhibits. The Pier is also home to the end of Historic Route 66, our nation’s oldest or longest road extending approximately 2,400 miles to here from Chicago.
At the end of the Pier is Pacific Park, the Los Angeles area’s only admission-free amusement park. Visitors here will find a full-service amusement park with unique rides and activities like a five-story West Coaster roller coaster, and a nine-story Pacific Plunge tower ride. All attractions here are designed with the family in mind, including a wave jumper, pirate ship, bumper cars, sea planes, roller coaster, scrambler, and more, plus almost two dozen midway games.
The biggest attraction here is the nine-story Pacific Wheel – the only over-water Ferris wheel in California, and the first solar-powered wheel in the world. The subject and backdrop of numerous famous photographs, documentaries, TV shows and movies, the Ferris wheel is 85-feet high, sites more than 130 feet above the Santa Monica Pier, and is dramatically highlighted by over 160,000 energy-efficient multi-hued LED lights.
Whew! We’ve just barely scratched the surface of this unique, beachside community known around the world. Next, we’ll explore more of its attractions, entertainment entities, accommodation options and more.
Read the Entire Feature Series!
Part 1 California Dreamin’ in Santa Monica
Part 2 Beauty and Activities 24/7 in Santa Monica
Part 3 Santa Monica: Beauty and the Beach
Part 4 Santa Monica, Where the Livin’ is Easy