Santa Monica is a coastal paradise with stellar shopping haunts and great food galore. Curious to see what this beachside spot has to offer? Sassy Contributor, Hani takes us on a trip to this town…
I’ve seen it on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, WAGS and Cycle House (reality TV for the win!). I’m talking about Santa Monica of course, everything about it is beautiful – the pier, Ferris wheel, beach and the streets! So when I paid a visit to Los Angeles recently, I knew HAD to pop by Santa Monica.
What amazed me about Santa Monica is that everyone looked so happy and problem-free. In fact, I transformed into a free-spirited (hot) chick myself. There’s just something about the aura and vibe in the air that you can’t help but to absorb. But here’s the thing, as a traveller, your visit to Santa Monica might not turn out as ‘free-spirited’ as you’d like it to be if you’re not well prepared. So, here’s my simple and fuss-free guide for future Santa Monica goers!
Santa Monica itself is about 4 miles or 6.5km long. Time is money my friend, and the ‘must –see’ & ‘must-go’ places are mainly around the pier itself. So do get a hotel with the perfect location. Do not be tricked into getting hotels that claim to have a more ‘secluded and/or quiet’ beach area. That might just mean that you will be putting up at the boring side of town. Santa Monica is not quiet, ladies and trust me, you do NOT want quiet when you are there. What’s the point?
Santa Monica is all about the ocean, the beach and the pier. Get a hotel facing the ocean and don’t waste the atmosphere. I was lucky to be staying at the Shore Hotel, just directly opposite the pier and the beach and was just a mere three minutes walk to the mall and shopping streets. Being in the room with a balcony facing the sea, beautiful sunrise and sunset was literally breathtaking.
In the words of the typical Minah that I am, the Santa Monica Pier is ‘So HAPPENING la babe’! This is a ‘Must-see and Must do’ times 10. Seriously, I actually went to the pier 10 times in the five days I was there. The pier was filled with talented buskers, food and you can also find the the Pacific Park Amusement Park there too! Other than the fact I was just a stone’s throw away from the pier, being lost in the amusement park brings back fond childhood memories. There’s definitely something nostalgic about amusement park games like mini hoops and ring tosses and rides like the Ferris Wheel and Pirate Ship. The park has no admission fee but the rides are chargeable. My suggestion is to go crazy on the rides and games!. If you’re planning to go on more than two rides, I suggest getting the Unlimited Ride Ticket; better value for money! Shopping here is interesting too though I have to say you might be able to get cheaper souvenirs and t-shirts elsewhere.
You won’t go hungry in Santa Monica. Even if you are a Vegan or a Muslim like I am. You’ll be spoilt for choice. Choose from Mediterranean food, Indian food, Vegetarian options, Seafood grills and tonnes of fast food and cafes. For Muslim travellers, fret not. In my five days there, I had halal Mediterranean food, Halal Indian food and even Halal burgers in a joint called Hole in the Wall, which YOU MUST visit. Most restaurants closes between 930pm to 11pm and there are very limited 24-hour food joints. Some restaurants open till 3am and offer delivery service to the hotel too. Shore Hotel was also sensitive to my needs and ensured my meals are not cooked with wine/alcohol. How sweet!
You would think that if you’re staying near the beach, you would be hot & sweaty all the time right? Yes, in the day. Come 6pm, the temperature could drop to 17 degrees, from a high of 26 degrees. With the wind blowing, it can be very chilly at night. I was shivering on my first night! Thankfully, Shore Hotel has a heated pool, a hot tub and a romantic garden with fireplace. It was easy for the hubs and I to keep warm and cosy.
Money and Camera. MUST HAVES. Things in Santa Monica are a little pricier than the other parts of Los Angeles. Yet, you cannot help but to shop. There are about two to three discount stores around Santa Monica like TJ Max which is within a walking distance from the pier so do look out for them. You can get your money’s worth there – I promise! Please do not leave your hotel without a camera. JUST DON’T! Far too many good photo-opps! Caution: Selfie-addicts, you might just go crazy.