On this Golden State adventure, the final destination is marvelous Santa Monica. Twenty minutes west of downtown Los Angeles and nestled along the Pacific, this coastal hub is both a sophisticated cultural oasis and the ultimate, laid-back beach town.
Full of sights to see and explore, it’s also walkable so you can maximize your time enjoying the sunshine.
George and his family stayed in high style at the Oceana Santa Monica, hoteloceanasantamonica.com, a chic suites-only boutique hotel with white-glove service and an array of creature comforts, from Bottega Veneta bath products and Frette linens to complimentary beachfront yoga and beach cruisers.
And what a California beach! Santa Monica’s incredible beachfront stretches over five kilometres and it’s home to the iconic Santa Monica Pier, santamonicapier.org. An historic landmark dating back to 1909, it’s also a destination for family fun and events. The pier’s Pacific Park features carnival games and rides, including the flagship solar-powered Ferris wheel and an historic merry go-round, plus restaurants and shops.
On the south side of the pier, you’ll find the Original Muscle Beach. It dates back to the 1930 and, back in the day, notable acrobatic and gymnastics exhibitions were held on site. What’s more, famous bodybuilders worked out there on weightlifting equipment. Today there’s an outdoor gym area with ropes, parallel bars, swings and more, so you can test your own fitness, have some fun and flex what you’ve got for the world to see.
Just east of the Pier, you’ll discover another gem: the 3rd Street Promenade. Comprised of three open-air, pedestrian blocks, with everything from farm-fresh produce to designer fashion, it’s home to posh Santa Monica Place and its 80-plus upscale retailers, along with a tantalizing collection of clubs and restaurants.
Don’t miss the chance to dine at Elephante, elephantela.com, a popular rooftop restaurant and bar serving California-Italian cuisine and craft cocktails. The spectacular ocean views, upmarket ambience and excellent food make it a fun experience.
Finally, for a classic, unforgettable California beach day, consider following the Coyle family’s lead. They tapped into the wizardry of Santa Monica Picnic Co, santamonicapicnicco.com, to enjoy the ultimate picnic by the water. Everything from food and drink to furnishings, lighting and tableware were included in this package. Comfy goose feather pillow seating, umbrellas, napkins, silverware, a charcuterie board and other niceties ensured the final day of this vacation was made-in-California heaven.