South of the Pier South of the pier is the Original Muscle Beach, where the Southern California exercise craze began in the mid-20th century. New equipment now draws a fresh generation of fitness fanatics. Close by, the search for the next Bobby Fischer is on at the International Chess Park. Anyone can join in. Following the South Bay Bicycle Trail, a paved bike and walking path, south for about 1. Bikes or in-line skates are available to rent on the pier and at beachside kiosks. Where to stay near Santa Monica Pier For budget friendly, check out HI Los Angeles, this hostel with an enviable location is less than a mile from the pier. It has modern, clean and safe single-sex dorm beds as well as private rooms.
Rates include breakfast and the hostel runs a host of activities as well. A more mid-range (for Santa Monica standards) option is the Georgian Hotel, just across from Palisades Park, this eye-catching, 1933 art deco landmark has a snug ocean-view veranda for breakfast and sunset lounging. The 84 rooms, in soothing sand and sky tones, are surprisingly modern, and we love the parlor-like bath tiles. Upper floors tend to be quieter and have better views. And for pure up-scale Santa Monica head straight to Shutters on the Beach. Bringing classic Cape Cod charm to the Pacific coast, the 198 rooms here have a beach-cottage feel with marble baths, wood floors and spectacular ocean views from tiny balconies with white-washed shutters. This is as up-scale as Santa Monica gets.
Where to eat on Santa Monica Pier There are typical food stands that you’d find at any amusement park and a few tried and true tourist chains that dot the pier, but for our money we like to stop at the Blue Plate Oysterette. Just across from the ocean, this seafood shack offers a delectable raw bar, including a ceviche of the day as well as standout lobster rolls and fish tacos. For an early breakfast or a coffee break head just a few blocks to Dogtown Coffee. Housed in the old Zephyr surf-shop headquarters where skateboarding was invented in the 70’s. It brews great coffee and makes a mean breakfast burrito. Parking near Santa Monica Pier Parking can get expensive, if you’re staying near the pier most of the hotels offer parking for a fee, but expect to pay around $18 for the day if you can find a spot.
You may find free parking inland if you don’t mind walking a ways. Alternatively, if you aren’t staying in Santa Monica, you can take the metro. The Expo Line connects DTLA, West LA, Long Beach and all points in between.
One of the most delightful, inspirational spots in LA, the Huntington is rightly a highlight of any trip to California thanks to a world-class mix of art, literary history and over 120 acres of themed gardens (any one of which would be worth a visit on its own), all set amid stately grounds. There’s so much to see and do that it’s hard to know where to begin; allow three to four hours for even a basic visit.
From the instant it opened in e a must-visit for contemporary-art fans. It houses the world-class collection of local philanthropist and billionaire real-estate honcho Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, with more than 2000 postwar pieces by dozens of heavy hitters, including Cindy Apex dating Sherman, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring and Kara Walker.
In its billion-dollar, in-the-clouds perch, high above the city grit and grime, the Getty Center presents triple delights: a stellar art collection (everything from medieval triptychs to baroque sculpture and impressionist brushstrokes), Richard Meier’s cutting-edge architecture, and the visual splendor of seasonally changing gardens. Admission is free, but parking is $20 ($15 after 3pm).