36 hours in Santa Monica

We just spent part of our Spring Break in California and it worked out that we would have two nights free before our flight home. So, we decided to spend these two nights in Santa Monica. How did we come up with Santa Monica?  Well, it is less than 10 miles from LAX and since we have friends in LA, it was a fairly short distance for them to come and see us at the beach.

Before we left on our trip, I searched for accommodation in Santa Monica.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t find much on VRBO or AirBnB for our dates.  The few properties I did find lacked character or style, were on a busy street, above a bar or were not set up for kids.  That left hotels.  There are quite a few right on Ocean Avenue and close to the Santa Monica Pier.  They range in price, style and location, but with such a short visit to the area, I wanted to be close the pier and 3rd Street Promenade (more on that later).

The Ocean View Hotel ticked all the boxes.  Good location, reasonable price and recently updated.  Since we were arriving late one afternoon and leaving a day and half later, I decided we didn’t need an ocean view luxury room.  We usually always get a room with a view.   But for the time we were there, it was just fine and we didn’t feel we missed seeing the ocean.  That said, our room was small, but well appointed.  The only downside was the two double beds.  They were a little tight for all of us.  My kids aren’t used to sleeping together and my husband and I have a king at home.  However, since we were only there for two nights, I knew we could make it work and we did.

Day 1:

We arrived late the first afternoon, so we quickly dropped our stuff and headed out to see the beach.  It was a pretty sight!  The sun was low in the sky, the waves were crashing in and the beach just went on for what seemed like forever.

After hanging there for about an hour, we headed back to the room, had a quick change and went out in search of dinner.  It was close to 7pm and it was Spring Break, so we were pushing it with our hungry kids (ages 10 and 7).  After walking a couple blocks and only finding busy restaurants and line ups, we headed back to the hotel for advice.  The front desk suggested going in the opposite direction to Water Grill which had great seafood and a kids’ menu.  We sat in the bar area and ordered lots of seafood and wine.  My son loved the mussels and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our tuna burgers.

After dinner, it was straight back to the hotel and to bed for everyone.

Day 2:

I headed out for a quick run on the beach while the kids were content to watch Scooby Doo and my husband answered some work emails.  It was about 8:30am and the boardwalk was already filled with cyclists, dog walkers and runners.  It was a such great way to start the day.  After a quick shower, we left in search of breakfast.  Husband had googled restaurants and Jinky’s came up with great reviews and it was only a couple blocks away.  We had California style omelettes which were delicious.  The coffee was a little watery, but did the job.

We had planned to meet our friends at 11am on the pier and so we headed there next. I knew the kids would like this area. There are musicians, vendors, rides, games and food suitable for all ages.  And there is that view.  Wow!

We all rode the ferris wheel, but only my son and husband took on the roller coaster and scrambler.  We had a light lunch at one of the many restaurants on the pier and managed to get a great seat on the deck to watch the world go by.

I had heard there was an aquarium close by, so we went in search of it.  The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is found underneath the east (beginning) end of the pier.  It is small but well run with knowledgeable volunteers.  Kids under 12 were free and adults were only $5!  We happened to be there at feeding time, so it was fun to see the various sea animals eat and move around to catch their food.   Like I said, it was small and we didn’t spend a lot of time there but it was still a good way to spend some time.

Muscle Beach (the original) is steps away so we meandered that way to check out the sights.  Lots of people working out, hanging out and watching.  It would have been very easy to sit there and people watch all day.  But the kids were tired and our friends needed to get back home, so we headed back to the hotel.

After some quiet time, we felt refreshed and walked over to the 3rd Street Promenade. What a cool area!  There are approximately 5 blocks of shopping, dining and entertainment and it is all pedestrian friendly.  No cars.  We browsed the shops, listened to the musicians and simply wandered.  The kids were free to run around a bit since there were no cars and it was an easy way to burn off some energy before dinner.

We were feeling like Italian food and I had spotted Trastevere.  We were seated outside on the patio.  It was a great seat and with the heaters on, it was very comfortable.  My husband and I ordered seafood pastas and shared some great wine.  The kids menu worked for our two and the service was really good.  We left feeling very satisfied with our choice. Another walk around for frozen yogurt at Pinkberry’s and after that it was time for bed.

Day 3:

We were up early the next morning to have breakfast (again at Jinky’s) before our flight.  Santa Monica’s proximity to the airport made it easy to return the rental car and get to our airline in less than 40 minutes.

If we had another day, we definitely would have rented bikes and cycled to Venice Beach and done some more exploring.

If you are doing the math, you may have realized we were actually there for 42 hours, but I decided just to count the actual day/evening hours while we were out and about. 🙂  Our visit to Santa Monica was a great way to end our trip and it has made us want to explore more of California’s coast and beach towns.  Any suggestions which towns we should go to next?

linking up with: Calypso in the Country