Why You Should Visit Santa Monica

I’ve been to Los Angeles twice so far. As a result, I was able to visit a few of the more touristy places.

I told my friends that I’ve visited Hollywood and the Walk of Fame and they went: “Oh wow! Amazing!

I told my friends that I’ve visited Universal City and saw Universal Studio and they went: “Lucky you! I’m so jealous! I want to go, I want to go!

I told my friends that I’ve skipped Disneyland because it was 40 miles away from the city and not so convenient to go and they went: “What?! How can you?! How can you let 40 miles deter you from visiting Disneyland?!! You imbecile!!

I then told my friends that I made up for it by visiting Santa Monica instead. Much to my chagrin, they went: “Huh.. okay.. cool.. so what’s that place?

Apparently, for us Asians, when you visit Los Angeles, the only places worth taking note of are: Hollywood, Universal Studio and Disneyland. Every other places do not matter at all.

Today I am going to tell you, if you have a short layover in Los Angeles, why Santa Monica is a place worth visiting.


Maybe not to Asians who live halfway across the globe, but it is to everybody else. Look at the crowds, people love this place!

Santa Monica Pier

2. It is easily accessible

There is a free shuttle service between LAX (the airport) and Santa Monica. Or if you prefer to drive, here are 2 basic directions:

  • From the airport, you enter the San Diego Freeway (North), then exit at Santa Monica Freeway (West) and go all the way. That’s all. No small roads and many turns to contend with.
  • If you drive from Hollywood, it is even better. If you are at that famous Walk of Fame, then you are at Santa Monica Boulevard. Just drive westwards, all the way. As a bonus, you get to go through the Beverly Hills area and maybe catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber. If you see him, show him your middle finger on my behalf, will you? Actually I’m making this Bieber part up, I don’t know where Bieber lives, and I don’t want to know.

3. Parking is cheap, sometimes free

Compared to San Francisco, parking is relatively cheaper in Los Angeles. It gets even better in Santa Monica. I’ve seen roadside parking in certain areas in San Francisco to be upwards of $10 per hour in 2011. The same year in Los Angeles it was generally $4 per hour. In Santa Monica? There are many dedicated car park buildings called Structures that charge $1 or $2 per hour and $8 or $10 flat rates after 5 or 6 PM.

It gets even better. If you park in the mall, Santa Monica Place, the first 2 hours are free. Yes, free. Free of charge. The third hour onwards will follow the same rates as the other Structures. I guess they created these cheap car parks to encourage more visitors to come.

4. Shopping

Rodeo Drive is a place where commoners like us go for a look. Santa Monica is a place where we can actually shop. There is the mall, and outside the mall there is a pedestrian only street called the 3rd Street Promenade.

This is where you can find H&M, Forever21, Nike, Levi’s and their likes, all in one concentrated area.

Tips: Asians, don’t be obsessed with shopping in the premium outlets every time you visit the States. Be brave, enter the full fledged stores. Sometimes these flagship stores conduct bargain sales too, where items go for 70% or even 80% discounts! 80% was the most I have ever seen, I have yet to see any 90% discounts.

5. Buskers

The 3rd Street Promenade is also home to many buskers. What is a busker, you might ask? A busker is another name for street performer. I don’t know why it is called busk, I think the word has Spanish roots.

Of all the places I visited, this is the only place I have ever seen in the US that actually allows busking. I have never seen buskers in San Francisco and Denver. At least not in places that I have visited. I think in certain states, busking is illegal.

And the street performers here are amazing. Not only do they showcase their skills and talents in whatever it is they are doing (singing, playing drums, acrobatics, dancing etc), they are also incredibly engaging!

In fact I think I am going to show you a couple of videos that I captured when I was there. This guy kept me rooted for almost 30 minutes. I only took video for about 10 minutes though.

Ladies and gentlemen, now I show you the first ever Black African American ever to fly in the sky!

I know he warned us not to say I Saw A Black Guy In Santa Monica. Stupid reverse psychology 😀 .

Yeah, it’s a rather long video, but he did fly in the end, didn’t he? I hope you enjoyed it.. Kids, remember, don’t do this at home, do it at grandma’s house 😉 .

6. Beach

I am very surprised that not many people I know actually heard of Santa Monica Beach before. I am guessing in fact not many in Malaysia knows of this beach. If I am wrong, let me know in the comments.

Seriously? Santa Monica Beach is a 3 miles (~5 km) stretch of beach directly facing the Pacific Ocean. If you ask me, this is like the American version of the Copacabana (that world famous beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). What more do you want?

7. Glimpse of History

Have you watched that cartoon, Cars? If you have, surely you remember bits and parts of the story, where it happened in a fictional town along Route 66?

Source: Turbozens.com

Well, guess what? The town might be fictional, Lightning McQueen is definitely fictional, but Route 66 is something very real. Route 66 is called America’s Main Street and The Mother Road. There is a very good reason to it. It was one of the original highways of the United States. When it was established in 1926, Route 66 was 2448 miles (3940km) of highway spanning across 8 states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Start point: Chicago. End point? Yup, Santa Monica.

IMG_1630 (1024x768)
This shop is on the Santa Monica Pier, just across the shopping mall.

Of course, nowadays the Americans use a new highway system called the Interstates, this Route 66 (as well as other Routes) become historical relics. The cartoon mentioned this fact accurately, it did not lie.

So, what do you think? Does this place look like a place worth visiting if you ever visit Los Angeles?



  1. I stayed in Santa Monica when I was in LA and loved it! Especially the pier with all the retro funfair rides – it was a great place to watch the sunset from.

  2. Oooh a place that was practically in my backyard! When my relatives from China visited, we took them to Universal Studios, Hollywood, and Santa Monica. So yes, Santa Monica is a big tourist destination for out-of-towners! I’ve been a couple handful of times. You’re right that the street performers (btw, totally didn’t know they had a name.. buskers) are pretty unique to SM. There are some at the beach city next door (Venice Beach, which is totally the hippie beach) also. I’m glad you got the chance to visit when you were in LA!

    • I remember driving past an area called Venice on my way back to the airport and exclaiming to my fellow colleague about the strangeness of the name, didn’t know they have a beach nearby!
      I’m mighty glad that I visited Santa Monica too! 😀

  3. I was scratching my head to recall if my friends and I have driven along the beach at Santa Monica since you mentioned it’s so close to LA. I only remember Newport Beach and the long drive along Southern California to Grand Canyon. It is so beautiful to live in California!!!

  4. I think it is great that you went to Santa Monica and have seen the places people don’t think about. Your friends reactions just highlight how they see a typical holiday which to be fair is just the same as everyone else s. At least your is different, a little unique and something you can always share and educate on.

    As for free parking, I love it! Always my favourite price and that will never change.

  5. Hollywood/Walk of Fame….yes! Universal Studios….yes! Disneyland….yes! Santa Monica….err, no! I guess I fall into one of those you describe as typical Asians :D. I think everyone can visit Disneyland….even if you’re old…keke! It’s a place you can feel like a kid…again…..and….be a kid!!! It’s a magical place…but definitely preferred the one in Anaheim to the one in Tokyo.

    • So you’ve actually been to the one in Anaheim?
      I don’t know, maybe I’m not a Disney person, it seems a big waste of time to drive 40 miles to a place to see crowds and crazy queues.. made absolutely no sense to me LOL!

      • Yes, I’ve been to the one in Anaheim. Disneyland is a touristy place, so it was included in our tour itinerary, we had no choice. Yeah, if it was 40 miles away from where you’re at, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to bother.

  6. I have been to the Disney in Florida several times and honestly, it is not all it is cracked up to be. I mean, the heat, the crowds, the long lines, not to mention that it is rather expensive!!

    If I had a choice between Disney and Santa Monica, I would pick Santa Monica any day! There is lots to see and do. I could spend an entire day roaming around the beach there.

    • Agree 100% with all you said! I can’t stand the crowds and queues, especially not when I know I have limited time there.

  7. Looks like some of those places I’ve been to and I like to shop at the states, items are totally different from here even with the same brand, hehe!!

    • Of course different. You know how they work? The new items will go on sale in the US/Europe/Japan, and then the 2nd year they will be on those bargain sale area. 3rd year is when they remaining stocks will be transferred to low end countries, like Malaysia, as brand new items with jacked up prices 😐

  8. Yeah, I was there before but it was only for a day. I got to see Santa Monica Pier and at the time Cirque du Soleil had a performance there but I did not get a chance to watch 🙁 I feel that LA is more for the young, a very happening place and lots of excitement. But really, I would skip Disneyland unless if I were 10 years old hah..hah… 😀

  9. So many friends in the States, inviting me over…but the mere idea of having to go on a long haul flight puts me off. Old man…not so durable anymore. 🙁

    • If you really want to go, take Cathay or Singapore Air, both these are more comfortable for long haul flights.

  10. good that u hav been to LA, twice summore! jealous la…
    anyway, the beach in california is something that i m looking forward to visit….yea, it is of the famous saying “sunny California beach”…LOL!
    Hope i can go there one day, in business trip! hahaha!

  11. Aiya you bluff me to watch the long video. In the end, I can also fly lah like that. Ok, I duwan to give spoiler here to people who did not watch.

  12. I am like Princess Ribbon – real jeles lah to read your post. I am also like SK, never set foot there before. Thanks for sharing the photos. At least I can tell people who go LA to go to Santa Monica now from the fabulous info you have given us here.

  13. indeed a very beautiful place and you have got a few great shots there.. i have not stepped foot on the soil of the Americas before, and it would be nice to go to the US and pay a visit to a few of the cities.. 🙂

    • They weren’t even shot with my fake DSLR, I was using a lousier camera back then, a Canon Powershot..

  14. Uikks, jealous la.. Can never afford to go to this place (for now).. In future dunno la, maybe my boys earn big bucks then can bring me go la.. Those study abroad one sure get to travel to many countries.. Work and save up and all.. But me, errr, study 3+0 one no go abroad la.. Sobs 🙁

    • Business trip ma, you think I can afford it by myself meh?
      If you got the time tomorrow, watch the videos, maybe that will make you slightly feel like you visited 😛

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