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Santa Monica

Santa Monica, California

Introduction to Santa Monica, California

Incorporated in 1886, the California coastal city of Santa Monica has been renowned as a famed resort town since the early 20th century. Enclosed in an 8.3 square-mile area, the city is pedestrian-friendly, rich with beaches and bike trails, and replete with world-class restaurants and shops. Its location (only eight miles north of Los Angeles International Airport and a short drive from downtown Los Angeles) also makes it accessible by car to virtually every major visitor destination in Southern California.

Several major roads combine to define Santa Monica’s transportation matrix. The Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) originates in Santa Monica and proceeds eastward all the way across the USA, traversing seven states before terminating in Jacksonville, Florida. California State Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) passes through Santa Monica on its way from California’s southern to northern boundaries. California State Route 2 (Santa Monica Boulevard) begins in Santa Monica and continues northeast across Los Angeles County. Historic U.S. Route 66, an east-west highway originating in Chicago and spanning the western portion of the United States, terminates at the Santa Monica Pier.

Universities and colleges located within a 15-mile radius of Santa Monica include UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Valley College, West Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Southwest College, and West Valley Occupational Center.

Some interesting Santa Monica facts:

  • In 1921, Donald W. Douglas founded the Douglas Aircraft Company locating his first plant on Wilshire Boulevard.
  • A stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica Canyon and the Santa Monica Pier known as the “Gold Coast” became fashionable in the 1930s for celebrity beach homes. Some of the film stars who resided here included Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, and in later years, Peter Lawford.
  • The 3,000-seat Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was the host site of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual Oscar awards ceremony during the years 1961 through 1968.
  • The rock and roll club The Cheetah, which closed its doors in 1968, had been home to early performances by such acts as The Doors, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, The Mothers of Invention, and others.
  • The popular sitcom Three’s Company (late 1970s/early 1980s) was set in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Arts and Entertainment:

Santa Monica is defined by eight easily approachable districts, each featuring its own mix of shopping, dining and entertainment options. The Santa Monica Pier is a bustling locale which evokes the atmosphere of an historic beach front carnival and houses a number of entertainment venues, including: The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome (carousel), a National Historic Landmark; Pacific Park, LA’s only admission-free amusement park with rides, games, food, and retail shops; the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium; the La Monica Ballroom; and the Playland Arcade. Every fall the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce hosts The Taste of Santa Monica on the Pier, where visitors can sample food and drink from Santa Monica restaurants.

Art and culture are predominant in the city of Santa Monica, home to over 120 museums and art galleries. Bergamot Station is a city-owned art gallery compound that includes the Santa Monica Museum of Art and additionally houses the single largest concentration of galleries in Santa Monica. The Broadway Gallery Complex displays contemporary art originating both locally and internationally. The 18th Street Arts Complex exhibits the collective art of several organizations. Some of the city’s museums include the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, Angels Attic Museum, the California Heritage Museum, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Santa Monica is also home to an array of Farmer’s Markets, held regularly on various weekdays at various locations. The markets offer exhibitions by local chefs, samples of breads, cheeses, and other foodstuffs, fresh cut flowers, live music, and more. Pony rides and face painting are offered at the Sunday markets held on Main Street.

Other Los Angeles area and nearby Southern California attractions are located only a short drive away from Santa Monica. To name a few:

  • Beverly Hills: Includes the Rodeo Drive Shopping District
  • Hollywood: Includes historic Hollywood Blvd and the Hollywood Bowl
  • Malibu: A famous 27-mile stretch of beach, which many movie stars call home
  • Marina del Rey
  • Disneyland
  • Universal Studios
  • Sony Pictures Studio Tours: Locale where Spiderman and The Wizard of Oz were filmed
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain

Serious fans of the sport of rugby will recognize Santa Monica as home to the Santa Monica Rugby Club. Founded in 1972, the club has had great success since its conception, most recently winning back-to-back SCRFU (Southern California Rugby Football Union) championships in 2005 and 2006. The Club has accepted an offer to join the Rugby Super League, which is the top level of club rugby in the United States, for its 2007 season.

Fans of other Major League professional sports can find plenty of action in the nearby Los Angeles area, home to several teams including the L.A. Dodgers (MLB), the L.A. Kings (NHL), the L.A. Clippers (NBA), the L.A. Lakers (NBA), the L.A. Galaxy (soccer), the L.A. Avengers (Arena football), and the L.A. Riptide (lacrosse).

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