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.
1. It is a FAMOUS TOURIST ATTRACTION!
Maybe not to Asians who live halfway across the globe, but it is to everybody else. Look at the crowds, people love this place!
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.
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.
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 😉 .
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?
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.
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?