What to See
and Do | Where to Eat | Hotels
The side-by side beach towns of Santa Monica and
Venice, are similar only in their west L.A. location.
Otherwise, they're completely different. Santa Monica is
sophisticated, with fabulous restaurants and cafes, fine
hotels (including the newest beach-side hotels in the
region) and an atmosphere captured by Raymond Chandler in
his mystery novels, with his home town Santa Monica the
model for the fictional Bay City.
Venice is funky: a hippie-esque
reminder of the 1960s, informal to the point of rudeness
and the liveliest beach in greater L.A. -- the famous
The two communities lie to the northern
edge of the L.A. basin, sandwiched between the Malibu
seashore and L.A. International Airport. Both towns are
easy to get to -- by the freeway system -- and are
conveniently located for travel on Pacific Coast Highway.
Highway 1 runs immediately beside the Santa Monica Pier.
What to See & Do
Santa Monica (not Venice) offers
diversified shopping in serious antique stores, fashion
boutiques and some of the best bookstores in the area.
Star Wares on Main sells celebrity clothing,
television and film costumes and Hollywood kitsch. The
Santa Monica Trading Company deals in recycled
goods -- books, magazines, old travel guides and much
more. Next door, at 2703 Main St., is Paris 1900,
a turn-of-the-century lingerie shop with antique and
newly-made lace underwear.
If you get tired of shopping, the modest Santa
Monica Museum of Art offers imported exhibitions,
many of them based on socially relevant themes. The
building was reconstructed by architect Frank Gehry from
the old Edgemar Dairy. The two towns are launching pads
for visits to the nearby J. Paul Getty Museum and
the rarified attractions of nearby Beverly Hills and
The Third Street Promenade is a formerly
run-down street turned into an exciting pedestrian mall,
filled with informal restaurants, boutiques and other
places to shop. It's a place to stroll, sample the
nightlife, and people-watch.
Where to Eat
Many people think that L.A.'s best restaurant is
Chinois On Main (2709 Main St., Santa Monica).
This is one of Wolfgang Puck's creations, with an
eclectic decor, including exposed brick, art deco
creations, ceramic artwork and lots of people who fill
the place every day. Puck has two other restaurants in
the L.A. area: Eureka and Spago. From
catfish with ginger and panzu sauce to contemporary pasta
dishes, the menu is a culinary wonder.
Ocean Avenue Seafood (1401 Ocean Ave.) has dark
wooden paneling, just the right touch for a sophisticated
seafood grill. There's an indoor-outdoor bar and an
extensive fresh seafood menu. On the Third Street
Promenade, Broadway Deli (1457 Third St.) offers a
modern deli atmosphere and a menu that ranges far beyond
the New York style delis. This is a place for relaxed but
serious dining -- contemporary salad entrees, hot meat
dishes, desserts -- with one of the best wine lists in
© 1997/2005 - Fraser Bridges