An Exploration of Santa Monica

By Tim DeRodeff, Hotel Casa del Mar

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in Western Los Angeles County. It is bordered by the Pacific Palisades and Malibu to the north, Sawtelle and Brentwood to the east, and Venice to the south. It was named after the Christian saint Monica, rather arbitrarily, and was officially incorporated as a city in 1886. It is about 8.3 square miles in radius. National Geographic ranked Santa Monica as one of the “Top Ten Beach Cities in the World” – putting Santa Monica in a class with Barcelona, Sydney and Rio de Janerio.

Favorite Lunch

Bay Cities Italian Deli: This traditional Italian deli is home to what is arguably the most iconic sandwich in all of Los Angeles, “The Godmother.” Stacked with salami, prosciutto, ham, and provolone on a delicious hand-made roll, this sandwich is not to be missed. Bay Cities is the perfect place to put together a picnic basket for the beach, which is only a few steps away.

Coast (Shameless plug): One of the only restaurants in Santa Monica located directly on the beach, Coast, at Shutters on The Beach Hotel offers classic seafood and American fare with the option to sit outside on their gorgeous patio. It’s the perfect place to relax and watch the waves roll in and out.

Favorite Dinner

Cassia: Santa Monica is lucky to be home to some of the most exciting restaurants in the country, and Cassia is definitely one of them. Offering a unique take on the flavors of Southeast Asia combined with a Californian, farm-to-table sensibility, Cassia has already reached wide critical acclaim even though it is fairly new. They too offer an expansive outdoor patio.

Mélisse: One of the few Michelin Star restaurants in Los Angeles, Mélisse continuously pushes the envelope with innovative take on traditional French cuisine. Yes, one meal can cost you up to $400, but they promise it will be a meal you never forget.

Favorite Stores and Shops:

Santa Monica has three unique and equally great shopping districts within its radius. The first of which is located in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica. The Third Street Promenade sits directly north of the famous Santa Monica Pier and offers three open-air blocks of shopping, dining, and even street performance. Between the Promenade and the Santa Monica Place, a more traditional mall which anchors to the south, there are over 100 shopping destinations.

Most tourists will be comfortable at the Third Street Promenade, but for those looking for a more unique shopping experience, Montana Avenue to the north and Main Street to the south are both great options. Both districts offer more of a boutique shopping experience, with Montana Avenue being a bit more upscale, and Main Street being a bit more local.

Popular Tourist Attractions

At over 100 years old, The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular landmarks in Los Angeles. The Pier is home to Pacific Park, a family-friendly amusement park that consists of carnival rides, arcade games, and a state-of-the-art, solar paneled Ferris wheel. It is also home to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and a trapeze school. During the summer, the Pier is the venue for the Twilight Concert Series, a weekly outdoor event featuring musical acts from all over the world.

Hidden Gems/Do Not Miss

Bergamot Station: a facility housing over 40 galleries and creative businesses

The Original Hot Dog On a Stick: grab a dog beachside at the original Hot Dog On A Stick, opened in 1945

Go To The Farmer’s Market: Santa Monica offers four weekly farmer’s markers featuring fresh produce, flowers, cheeses, meats, seafood, and more

Take the Train: The Expo Line is one of the most exciting new additions to Santa Monica. Offering direct access to and from Downtown Los Angeles in about 45 minutes, the Expo Line has made it a lot easier to enjoy the day at the beach without the hassle of waiting in traffic.