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Santa Monica

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Southern California Los Angeles County Santa Monica

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Introduction

Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Santa Monica is a city itself rather than part of the city of Los Angeles. It basically is the playground for the beach bums in the LA. Most of the action in Santa Monica is centred around the Santa Monica Pier, where the official end of Route 66 is located. The pier, with its activities like rollercoasters and all sorts of shops, splits the beach into two halves. The northern one is less attractive and most parking takes place there. The southern half, towards Venice Beach, is more attractive, with cycle- and footpaths and palm trees. The water here is pretty cold like most of the Californian coast, and watch out for riptides or strong currents at times. There are lifeguards patrolling around the waters, but better safe than sorry!

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Getting There

By Plane

Los Angeles is served by more airports than any other city in the world. The main airport however is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is one of the busiest airports in the world, handling over 60 million passengers a year. LAX is located in southwestern Los Angeles in the neighborhood of Westchester, 27 kilometres from the downtown core. The airport has 9 terminals: number 1 to 8 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), serving hundreds of destinations within the US and to Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Other airports in the area include Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank to the north (about 15 minutes from Los Angeles city) and LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) (about 45 minutes away) to the east.

By Car

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.

By Publci Transport

The county-wide Metro public transit agency offers service to Santa Monica from throughout the Los Angeles region. Santa Monica is the western terminus for the Metro Rail Expo Line, which runs out to Culver City, Exposition Park, and onward to Downtown LA. The line ends in Downtown Santa Monica at Colorado Avenue and 4th Street, just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. Prominent Metro bus lines to Santa Monica include the 20/720 via Wilshire Boulevard from Downtown LA and the 04/704 via Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard from Union Station in Downtown LA. Lines 720 and 704 are Rapid lines which stop only at major intersections, making them faster than their local-stop counterparts 20 and 04 (however, the 20 and 04 run later into the evening). Service tends to be every ten to twenty minutes. Metro fare is $1.75.

Santa Monica is also served by its own Big Blue Bus, which runs bus lines to surrounding neighborhoods such as Venice Beach and West Los Angeles, as well as an express line to Downtown LA (requires extra fare). Local fare is $1.25, with a day pass costing $4, both of which can be purchased from the driver onboard the bus. The reusable TAP card is good on both Metro and Big Blue Bus.

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Getting Around

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. Santa Monica also has a fairly extensive bike share system, Breeze, with bike stations throughout Santa Monica and adjacent Venice Beach.

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Eat

Very diverse food selection, from high-end cuisine to burgers and tacos.

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Drink

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.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Santa Monica

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Santa Monica searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Santa Monica and areas nearby.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 8:07 on May 18, 17 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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