Santa Monica  was originally developed as a seaside retreat at the turn of the 20th century. The railroad owners built the first version of the amusement park on Santa Monica pier as an attraction to fill empty train seats on weekends. Santa Monica grew into an urban, eclectic, and prosperous beach city whose real estate values are amongst the most pricey in the world. Santa Monica is a very desirable city whose people are drawn to its accessibility and its progressiveness as a community. Today, Santa Monica is a mixture of very affluent, single-family neighborhoods, renters drawn by the high quality of life, lifelong surfers, young professionals and students.
Tourists visiting the Los Angeles region will find Santa Monica as one of the best situated locations to base their trip. There are plenty of hotel, restaurant and entertainment options, as well as close accessibility to major sights like Venice Beach, Malibu and Beverly Hills. Visitors will also note the beach cities' moderate climate; during the summer and fall, as the mercury soars to 100 in the San Fernando Valley and 90 downtown, Santa Monica usually remains at a very comfortable 75 degrees.
Santa Monica has three Visitor Information Centers  that feature experienced Travel Counselors, foreign language line, tickets to area attractions and free visitor information on attractions, hotels, dining, museums, galleries and entertainment.
Santa Monica is located at the western terminus of the 10 (Santa Monica) Freeway, about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and 7 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The city is roughly bounded by Centinela Blvd to the east, Ocean Park Blvd to the south, San Vicente Blvd to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
The tourist center of Santa Monica is the downtown area located near the famous Santa Monica Pier, which was once the western end of historic Route 66. By car, take the 10 Freeway to the 4th/5th Street exit, then head left toward the ocean. From the north, turn left off the Pacific Coast Highway (California 1) at the California Incline, which deposits you just a few blocks north of the pier.
Santa Monica is accessible by bus  from throughout the Los Angeles region. Take 720 (night owl line 20) from downtown LA or 704 (night owl Line 04) from Union Station. The fare is $1.50; buses run every two to ten minutes during rush hour, every ten to twenty minutes otherwise. Lines 720/20 travel via Wilshire Boulevard between downtown LA and Santa Monica, and Lines 704/04 travel via Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard between downtown LA and Santa Monica. Lines 720 and 704 are faster than Lines 20 and 04. Lines 720/20 connect to the LA Metro Red Line at Union Station and at the Vermont/Santa Monica station; Lines 704/04 connect to the LA Metro Red Line at the 7th Street Metro Center and at the Vermont/Wilshire station.
A Rapid 10 Big Blue Bus, the downtown LA express 10, runs between Union Station/downtown LA and Santa Monica . Big Blue Bus express fare is $2. Also, the Rapid 10 Big Blue Bus connects Santa Monica to the Red Line and the Blue Line in Los Angeles subway system. Good for both local and express routes, the day pass for the Big Blue Bus is $4. The Day Pass can be purchased from the Big Blue Bus driver on board the bus. The 13 Rides pass for the Big Blue Bus is also available: add $1 to include the express routes. To purchase the 13 Rides pass, go to the online store, the Transit Store, or an authorized location.
If you are arriving via LAX, you and your luggage can access the Santa Monica Downtown area for $1 by taking airport shuttle C and asking the driver to let you off closest to the stop for Big Blue Bus line 3 . Once you step off the shuttle, exit the lot, and turn right, and look for a blue triangular-shaped sign at the corner of the street. Buses arrive every 15-20 minutes on weekdays, and every 15-30 minutes on weekends; this is a regular route, the fare is $1.00. Also, Big Blue Bus line 3 connects Santa Monica to the Los Angeles light rail Green Line at Aviation Station.
'Santa Monica Airport (ICAO: KSMO) is popular for general aviation and business jet travelers. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Monarch Air Group, The Early Air Way, Paramount Business Jets,Crest Jets, New Flight Charters, Great Circle Aviation, Jetset Charter, Desert Jet and Prive Jets fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstreams down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.
For commercial passengers, the closest airport is LAX just a short drive south.
Many of Santa Monica's tourist destinations are within easy walking distance of each other. The city Big Blue Bus system operates a number of lines that link not only places within the city, but also neighboring Brentwood, Westwood and Venice Beach, making Santa Monica one of the relatively few places in Los Angeles where one needn't drive to get around. Traffic is very heavy in the downtown area, and during rush hour and weekends the city's main arterial streets (Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Lincoln Blvd) are choked with cars.
♿Both the Big Blue Bus & Metro Rapid (Red Bus) fleets include pneumatic wheelchair ramps & chair anchor points. Most stations are level & paved & stops are pre-announced (audio & visual). Fares for passengers with a disability are at 50%.
Throughout Santa Monica there are numerous pieces of public art to discover. From large murals to huge sculptures, there are almost 40 of these to check out.
Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., ☎ +1 310-453-7535. M 9AM-4PM, Tu-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM (Individual galleries may have different hours). Over 30 art galleries, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art.Free. edit
Angels Attic Museum, 516 Colorado Ave., ☎ +1 310 394-8331, . Th-Sa: 12 noon to 4PM; closed on holidays. A museum of antique and contemporary dolls, doll houses, and toys. The only parking is at metered street locations.Adults - $8.00, Children Under 12 - $5.00, Seniors - $7.00. (34.014644,-118.490515)edit
Bergamot Station. A city-owned art gallery compound which includes the Santa Monica Museum of Art.edit
Chess Park. How is your chess game? Chess park lies along the concrete path about 500 feet (150 m) south of the pier, and is frequented by locals who rate no less than class B in standard chess and can promise a fierce game of blitz chess. Watch a game in action, or challenge an aficionado. Be prepared for some keen competition, though.edit
Montana Avenue. A local street with lots of small stores and restaurants. This is where the local rich folks hang out, so you'll see lots of rich folks shopping, going to Yoga, and walking dogs.edit
Main Street. A local street that attracts the most surfers and bikers. It is just 2 blocks from the ocean, and have many hotspots on the street like Urth Cafe, World Cafe, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf along with cool local restaurants, pubs and just few blocks to Abbot Kinney, Venice. edit
Santa Monica Pier, . A bustling boardwalk whose huge Ferris Wheel is the city's icon. The long pier has an old-fashioned amusement park, with reasonable by-the-ride pricing, including a small roller coaster. The Pier has restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and some street performers. At almost all hours you'll find at least a few people fishing as well. The Santa Monica Pier has terrific coastline views of Malibu and the Southbay. The Pier is within easy walking distance to the Promenade.edit
Santa Monica Beach. A large, wide, beautiful beach on either side of the pier. Perry's rents bikes and roller blades or bring your own for use on the world famous *strand* that links all of the Westside beach cities. For some of the best people watching in the world, follow the strand south a couple of miles to Venice Beach. Hire a bike or skates and travel along the cycle path (there are a number of shops to hire from around and on the pier).edit
Third Street Promenade, (several blocks of Third Street), . A very successful Urban mall project: a vibrant, outdoor street full of restaurants, movie theaters, shopping, bookstores, and bars. Those who enjoy street performances will be impressed by the quality of musicians, dancers, and others. The Promenade is located only three blocks from the beach, the Promenade is one of L.A.'s most popular places to "hang out" for people of all ages.edit
Twilight Dance Series, (on the Santa Monica Pier), . Thursday evenings in summer, starting at 7:30PM. The Twilight Dance Series is a free concert series that has been running since 1983. Acts range from rock to reggae to folk and have included artists such as the Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, Los Lobos, Dick Dale and others. There is no organized seating, so arrive early to stake out a spot and bring something soft to sit on since the pier can be hard (note that once concerts start most people end up standing).Free!. edit
Santa Monica like the rest of the LA area is very cosmopolitan and attracts a lot of tourist shopping dollars, they are primarily spent in the three main shopping areas:
Montana Avenue Located on Montana between 7 and 17th streets, this area is relatively free of major national chains but is full of quaint but expensive local boutiques and cafes.
Third Street Promenade is a completely pedestrianized street that is the region's most popular shopping destination. Though chain stores have pushed out independent ones, it is the vibrant street life that distinguishes Third Street from the rest.
Santa Monica Place, 395 Santa Monica Place (at the south end of the Third Street Promenade), . An indoor-outdoor mall that was extensively remodeled in 2010. It houses a variety of restaurants, shops, and pavilions. A large parking garage is attached with reasonable hourly rates.edit
Main Street From Pico Blvd to Navy Street, Main Street shopping is similar to Montana Ave in that it celebrates the independent retailer. Main Street also has its fair share of excellent restaurants and bars. Heritage Square on Main Street is home to the widely popular, family-friendly Sunday Farmer's Market .
Trapeze School New York (TSNY), Santa Monica Pier, ☎ (310) 394-5800, . 7 days a week. Trapeze School New York at Santa Monica Pier is a school of flying trapeze and aerial arts open to the public and for all skill levels and ages. Also offered are corporate workshops, events and parties, birthday parties and performance workshops.$47-$65. edit
Bay Cities Italian Deli, 1517 Lincoln Blvd. Some of the best sandwiches on the west side. There will be a long wait during peak hours, so browse the authentic Italian market after you take your number.edit
Bagel Nosh Deli, 1629 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1-310-451-8771, . M-F 6:30AM-2:30PM, Sa & Su 7:30AM-3:00PM. Serving breakfast, lunch, and hand-rolled bagels since 1978.edit
Pradeep's, 1405 Montana Ave, ☎ +1-310-395-6675. Offers Indian Cuisine with a California consciousness. Emphasis is on healthy, so sauces are lighter, but flavor is still great.edit
Snug Harbor, 2323 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1-310-828-2991. A great breakfast place! A small "hole in the wall" with a relaxed atmosphere and competent service, you'll find many locals trying to wake up on Saturdays and Sundays. Offering up traditional bacon and eggs with a twist the food is fresh and good. Meat lovers should try Uncle Zeke's scramble.edit
Tacos Por Favor, 1406 Olympic Blvd. Mon-Sat 8am to 8pm closed Sundays. Fresh, cooked to order Mexican food in a taqueria atmosphere. It features good tacos and an excellent chicken mole burrito. Don't miss the pickled carrots and jalepeños in the salsa bar.edit
Blue Plate, 1415 Montana Ave, ☎ +1-310-260-8877. Blue Plate is a small, cozy neighborhood eatery that serves great American comfort food. Located in the heart of Montana Avenue, Blue Plate is close to many hip boutiques and is a great rest stop after a day of shopping. An added plus: the menu is kid-friendly, offering healthy items for kids as well as organic baby food. The turkey meatballs and mac 'n cheese are a must-try.Menu items range from $10-15. edit
Taiko, 11677 San Vicente Blvd, ☎ (310) 207-7782. Taiko is a casual little Japanese restaurant located in the Brentwood Gardens. The service is very friendly, and the unique variety of dishes will satisfy anyone's tastes. The Nabeyaki udon is not to be missed. edit
El Cholo, (11th and Wilshire). A Los Angeles institution and this Santa Monica branch offers great margaritas and wonderful traditional Mexican food. The green corn tamales, available from May to October each year, are a specialty.edit
Juliano's Planet Raw, (6th Street and Colorado Ave). Uber-California raw food vegan restaurant. Juliano has succeeded in making vegan cuisine actually taste like food! The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and totally lacks the sanctimonious, elitist attitude that so many ultra-liberals have. A bit pricey considering the portions are on the small side. Try the avocado sandwich on flax seed "bread."edit
Typhoon, 3221 Donald Douglas Loop S. (Santa Monica Airport), ☎ (310) 390-6565, . Best known for its exotic fried insects, this pan-asian restaurant also serves dim sum and sushi, Malasian and Thai, in a unique setting with a view of the runway. Window tables have great views of the runway activity. Try the steamed whole fish (bass or catfish). Adventurous eaters can try tasty appetizers of crickets, scorpions, sea worms and ants. MSG used, so be sure to ask for your food without it if it disagrees with you.edit
Warszawa Restaurant, 1414 Lincoln Blvd, ☎ +1-310-393-8831, . Authentic Polish food can be found on Lincoln with a signature dish of roast duck. They have a fantastic outdoor patio in the back where you can get a great vodka martini.edit
The Lobster, (Colorado Blvd & the Santa Monica Pier), ☎ +1-310-458-9294, . One of the few restaurants in Santa Monica that actually has a view of the Pacific Ocean. Located at the Eastern end of the Santa Monica Pier, The Lobster provides good seafood dishes, great cocktails and a little bit of a scene. While a little noisy and on the expensive side ($120+ for two with alcohol), the food, fun and view can make it worthwhile.edit
Michael's, . Along with Chez Panisse in Berkeley, lead the nouvelle cuisine movement. Using fresh vegetables from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, locally caught fish and excellent meats every dish is sublime. While not cheap, a meal at Michael's does not disappoint.edit
Melisse, 1104 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1-310-395-0881, . Also featuring organic, locally grown produce and two tasting menus (including a vegetarian version), Melisse is Chef Josiah Citrin latest world class restaurant. The food is outstanding and gets the highest marks in Zagat and Michelin.$100 per person at a minimum. edit
Ocean and Vine, 1700 Ocean Avenue, . Chic restaurant and lounge at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. "farm-to-table" approach, California cuisine.edit
3 on Fourth, 1432a 4th St, ☎ +1-310-395-6765, . This imaginative restaurant serves French-, Asian- and American-inspired food in a fresh, unpretentious atmosphere. Great wine, beer and sake list. An extensive cheese menu is available for turophiles. A must try: the sashimi with Himalayan salt, the steak frites and the blueberry pie. A great place to take a date, or any special occasion dinner.Meals are from $31-50. edit
The Penthouse, 1111 Second St, ☎ +1-310-393-8080, . A rooftop Santa Monica restaurant located on the 18th floor of The Huntley Hotel. Offers a bar and lounge and panoramic ocean views. Menu features contemporary American cuisine with global influences from Asia and Brazil. Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm. Also available for private events.edit
Santa Monica offers over 50 Happy Hour specials  all over town, from dive bars to the high end hotels.
Unfortunately since LA and specifically the west side of LA is famous the world over for its night life going out and drinking in Santa Monica is expensive, normal prices for a domestic beer are $5 and martinis frequently range over $15. To that end the bars listed below are sorted by type and not price:
Fathers Office, 1018 Montana Ave (near 10th & Montana), ☎ +1-310-323-BEER (2337), . Best Burgers in Santa Monica in this tiny and wildly popular pub. Offers beers from over 20 different micro-breweries, a nice wine selection, but alas no full bar. The other downside is that its a small space and very popular so long lines quickly spring up. Don't try to change any of the items on the burger - it's their way or the highway.edit
Britannia Pub, 318 Santa Monica Boulevard, near 3rd Street Promenade. Small but very friendly Brit style pub, popular with locals and budget travelers. Good and cheap snacks and meals.
Etoile, 1111 2nd St. (top floor of the Huntley Hotel), (310) 393-8080. Located in a newly remodeled space on the top floor of the Huntly Hotel, decent selection of margaritas and martinis, good view of the beach.
Circle Bar- Located on Main st at 2926, this is a deep dark space that as you would imagine has a circular bar, popular with the twenty-something I drink too much crowd.
Mor Bar Located just a few doors down on the other side of Main St. Mor Bar is a larger space than Circle Bar and is a popular dance spot. According to their website, the Mor Bar moved to a "bigger and better space" in November 2007. However, it is not indicated what and where is the new venue.
Main on Main is now where Mor Bar was. Self proclaimed "The premier night club in Santa Monica featuring great music, chill atmosphere and outstanding drinks." located next door to Obrien's Pub This cozy neighborhood pub has been around since 1995, proudly serving a great range of brews, whiskeys and spirits as well as fine Irish and American cuisine.
Renee's Courtyard Cafe, 522 Wilshire Blvd. Tel. +1 310-451-9341 This is a great bar. One of the few you can still smoke in, technically. Its entrance way is a patio, with tables, so its outside, and ashtrays abound. There are lots of little nooks and cranny's here, each room with its own feel. Mellow during the weekend, a total meet market on the weekends!
O'Brien's Irish Pub, 2941 Main St, Santa Monica Tel. +1 310-396-4725 This is your typical Irish pub, but BIG! IT has 4 parts really. The outside patio, the front seating area, the bar, and the back room with the stage. There is almost always live music on the stage, ranging from punk rock bands to acoustic sing-alongs.
Cock N Bull Pub, 2947 Lincoln Blvd, Tel. +1 310-399-9696. Referred to as "the most OG English bar in LA" by espn's page 2, the Cock and Bull Serves typical British pub fair, has a wide array of beer on tap, and authentic British bar tenders. Although it can be quiet on the week nights this bar rapidly fills up when ever a quality soccer (football to the rest of the world) match or rugby game is on the TV, regardless of what time it is on, during the World Cup lines started forming at 4AM.
Hidden on Main, 3110 Main St Tel. +1 310 399-4800 At the location of the old Schatzi, this restaurant and lounge opened in the spring of 2008. Lots of outdoor seating areas and a crowd which is generally in their late 20s and 30s.
Wakano, 1413 5th St. Centrally located near Third Street, Wakano offers indoor and outdoors seating in a cosmopolitan atmosphere. edit
Ye Olde Kings Head (Kings Head), 132 Santa Monica Blvd, ☎ (310) 451-1402, . British style pub. Favorite amongst local Brits to watch football and play pub quiz on Tuesdays. edit
Library Ale House. On Main st and carries lots of interesting beer on tap. Food is mid-scale pub style.edit
V Lounge, 2020 Wilshire Blvd. (20th & Wilshire), ☎ 310-829-1933, . Located on Wilshire Blvd., this is Santa Monica's largest dance club, with a huge sunken dance floor. DJs spin pulsating Top 40, hip-hop, R&B and rock, with a down-to-earth crowd who wants to avoid the hassle of the Hollywood scene.edit
Ocean Park Inn, 2452 Lincoln Blvd., ☎ (310) 392-3966 or 1-800-605-5005 (fax: (310) 399-0502). $70-85. edit
HI Los Angeles/Santa Monica, 1436 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (on 2nd Street between Santa Monica Blvd and Broadway), ☎ +1 310 393 9913 (reserve@HILosAngeles.org, fax: +1 310 393-1769), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Hostel/backpacker style accomodation. 200 beds, clean, safe, plenty of activities. Linen incl. towel provided, the bed is even made for you$30+. edit
Seaview Hotel, 1760 Ocean Ave, ☎ (310) 393-6711, . A 1950's art deco gem one block from the ocean. The rooms are upgraded with fresh colors, cozy fibers and trendy furniture. Each room includes free wireless, flat screen TV's and free maid service.$88-125. edit
Best Western Gateway Hotel, 1920 Santa Monica Blvd., ☎ (310) 829-9100 (fax: (310) 829-9211), . $90-160. edit
Ocean View Hotel Santa Monica, 1447 Ocean Ave., ☎ (310) 458-4888 or 1-800-452-4888 (fax: (310) 458-0848), . $100-250. edit
Wyndham Santa Monica at the Pier, 120 Colorado Ave., ☎ (310) 451-0676 or 1-800-947-9175 (fax: (310) 393-7145), . Fantastic location, just steps away from the Santa Monica Pier. Hotel is quaint, comfortable and some rooms have a partial ocean view.$180-280. edit
Sheraton Delfina, 530 Pico Boulevard, ☎ (310) 399-9344, . Four blocks from the beach.edit
Ambrose Hotel, 1255 20th St., ☎ (310) 315-1555, . While 20 blocks from the beach, the Ambrose Hotel offers great style and comfort for less than the large beach-front hotels. Very convenient if visiting someone at St. John's Santa Monica Hospital.$175+. edit
Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, ☎ (310) 581-5533 or 1-800-898-6999 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 310-581-5503), . One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the Beach and has prices that reflect this rare amenity. Share pools, spas, etc. with Shutters.edit
The Fairmont, 101 Wilshire Blvd., ☎ (310) 576-7777 or 1-800-866-5577 (fax: (310) 458-7912), . A great hotel, but it only has ocean views.$290-730. edit
The Huntley, 1111 Second St, ☎ +1-310-394-5454, . A luxury hotel featuring a business center, fitness facilities, concierge service, and fine dining at The Penthouse.edit
Le Merigot (Marriott), 1740 Ocean Ave., ☎ (310) 395-9700 or 1-877-637-446 (fax: (310) 395-9200), . $300-1200. edit
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Avenue, . A beachfront resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Around the corner from Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.edit
Viceroy Hotel, 1819 Ocean Ave., ☎ (310) 260-7500 or 1-800-670-6185, . The Viceroy Hotel is perfect for travellers who are seeking an ultra-hip experience and don't have any budget restrictions. One block from the beach, and few blocks south of the main part of downtown Santa Monica, the Viceroy still is able to command $300+ per night because of its status as "One of the 50 hottest hotels in the world".$300+. edit
Georgian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Aven., ☎ (310) 395-9945 or 1-800-538-8147, . The Georgian Hotel is an Art Deco classic that dates back to the 1920s. Located right on Ocean Avenue and in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, it is in the thick of the action. Rooms are smaller and prices are not cheap, but it is a great place to stay.$200-400. edit
Shangri-la Hotel, 1301 Ocean Ave., ☎ (310) 394-2791. The Shangri-la Hotel has huge rooms, ocean views, and free parking for guests.edit
Shutters, One Pico Blvd., ☎ (310) 458-0030 or 1-800-334-9000 (fax: (310) 899-1652), . One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the beach. Share pools, spas, etc. with Casa del Mar.$450+. edit
Oceana Santa Monica, 849 Ocean Avenue, ☎ (310) 393-0486, . Located on Ocean Avenue, Oceana Santa Monica is a boutique hotel featuring a restaurant open only to guests.edit
Crime rates in and around the tourist areas are relatively low, thanks to an increased police presence and "neighborhood watch" campaign by business owners.
Santa Monica is considered to be Southern California's "Home of the Homeless" (a title shared with Hollywood); the city has amongst the highest per-capita homeless populations in Los Angeles county (although lessened by recent police crackdowns). However, most of them are harmless. You will probably be asked for spare change when traveling on foot, but you will probably not be bothered further (a suitable response would be something like "nothing today" or "nothing at all" depending on the temperament of the one making the petition).
Just use common sense and stay in the main tourist areas if you decide to go out at night.
The area of Santa Monica presenting the most safety problems is the small neighborhood around Pico Boulevard and 20th Street. Side streets in this area are best avoided at night.
Malibu. Located just a few miles to the northwest and accessible via the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Malibu is a beach town that is home to many entertainment stars and offers great beaches, surfing and restaurants for visitors.
Pacific Palisades. A neighboring town that is home to multi-million dollar homes set amongst the hills overlooking the ocean, as well as the J. Paul Getty Villa which features classical sculpture.
Culver City. A neighboring city and the home of Sony Studios that in recent years has been undergoing a rebirth and now has an increasing number of food, shopping and entertainment options.
Venice. The neighboring beach town offers miles of sand, an eclectic nightlife, and the infamous Muscle Beach.
Marina del Rey. The "marina of the king" is home to a vast number of restaurants, hotels, and the largest man-made pleasure craft harbor in the world; not as touristy as some of the neighboring beach cities is nonetheless a fun spot to spend an evening.
Beverly Hills and its fabled shopping is accessed by driving east on Santa Monica or Wilshire Boulevards.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!