USA series: Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles

Supporting pillars of Santa Monica Pier

Supporting pillars of Santa Monica Pier

Yesterday Alex and I finished our time in San Francisco, having visited many of its famous attractions including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

Today is a new day with a new city to explore. Alex and I are off to see the sights and the lights of Los Angeles (aka LA). To get to LA we are booked on an 8:00am flight with Virgin America.

To get to the airport from our accommodation in Union Square we take the Bart train from Powell Station to the Airport monorail. From the Airport monorail station we take the 3 stops to Terminal 2. Too easy.

Unfortunately, we think we (ie Alex) got scammed at Powell Station when trying to buy a ticket. A guy was “offering” to help, by showing us (Alex) which machine to use and grabbing Alex’s card and putting it in the machine before pressing a button or two. His drugged up looking friend then snatched in front of us as the machine said “failed”. We managed to get rid of him and just used cash to buy our tickets but the scam had already been done.

We will have to check our statement to see how much he may have got from us. We don’t think its can be any more than 2 tickets worth of travel which is USD$16.50.

While our 1 hour flight was late to depart, it is an uneventful flight (which is the best kind of flight to have) and we arrive ok into LAX. Welcome to Los Angeles… happy days.

Los Angeles according to Wikitravel:

The city of Los Angeles (also known simply as L.A., and nicknamed the “City of Angels”) is the most populous city in California. Located on a broad basin in Southern California, the city is surrounded by vast mountain ranges, valleys, forests, beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert.

The metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the United States and home to over 17 million people who hail from all parts of the globe.

Our accommodation in Los Angeles is in Venice on Venice Beach (bordering Santa Monica Beach). So, our next challenge is to get from LAX Airport to Santa Monica by bus. Hmmm.

I have had to research this a bit and it seems to do this we get the “Park C” shuttle from the airport arrivals area to the transit spot for the “Rapid 3” blue bus. 

Rapid Big Blue Bus

Rapid Big Blue Bus

Apparently the “Rapid 3” is a bus which runs between LAX Airport and Santa Monica. It takes a while for our bus to arrive, but eventually it does and we have a 30 minute ride before we need to get off the bus at Rose Avenue, Venice.  We get off at Rose Avenue and walk the 12 blocks to the Cadillac Hotel which is located right on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.  Cost of the bus is about US$2 each which is a bargain although I could have done without walking the 12 blocks.

We are happy to arrive at the Cadillac Hotel which is located right on the boardwalk at Venice Beach.  With fingers tightly crossed we enter the hotel (please, please, please be nice).

The guy on the desk is nice enough to let us check in and we are super happy with our reasonably priced room on the 4th floor which comes complete with ocean view!  After the disappointment (but acceptance) of the accommodation in San Franciso, we love this place.  The name again is the Cadillac Hotel – and its pink!

Our 4 nights cost for a queen room is US$676.52 (AU$684.24).

Venice according to Wikipedia:

Venice is a residential, commercial, and recreational beachfront neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles in the Westside region of Los Angeles County.

Venice was founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles. Today, Venice is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half-mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, fortune-tellers, artists, and vendors.

Now who wouldn’t want to stay in an area where there are fortune tellers in a circus-like atmosphere ??

We have been in Venice, Los Angeles for all of 1 hour but so far I think it is amazing.  It is smoggy and/or overcast or a mix of both but, sunshine or no sunshine, the beach and ocean still look amazing and I can’t believe we are in LA – on Venice Beach.

We enjoy a lazy lunch at a restaurant directly adjacent to the Cadillac Hotel, complete with Pacific Ocean view.  This is the life people!

We walk along the water’s edge from our Venice Beach location, covering the length of the beach down to Santa Monica and the famous Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica according to Wikipedia:

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city is named after the Christian saint, Monica. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Malibu to the north, Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the east, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the southeast. Santa Monica is home to many Hollywood celebrities and executives and is a mixture of affluent single-family neighborhoods, renters, surfers, professionals, and students.

Partly because of its agreeable climate, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town by the early 20th century.

Before we get to walk on Santa Monica Pier with its timber treads, we take the opportunity to walk underneath the pier, weaving our way though its many huge leaning pylons.  This is a cool (as in groovy, not cold) space and will makes for some great atistic photography.

Huge pillars support Santa Monica Pier

Huge pillars support Santa Monica Pier

Once up on Santa Monica Pier (or piers as the case might be) we pass its famous carousel (from the 1920’s) and amusement park including a ferris wheel and rollercoaster. Also here are arcade games and a selection of shops and eateries.  It is an overcast day but still perfect and I can’t believe how much I am loving this place.

The Santa Monica Pier is also the official “end of the trail” of the well known American route – Route 66… if you believe the sign.

Leaving Santa Monica Pier we head back to Venice and the Cadillac Hotel via the esplanade / boardwalk / Ocean Front Walk. 

This takes us an hour to complete.  The main esplanade / boardwalk / Ocean Front Walk is a straight wide path separated from a second meandering bike path that also runs the length of the beach.

Probably because it is a weeday, there is not a lot of foot traffic on the main esplanade, which is an easy walk and which is also flanked on its non-beach side with shops and restaurants.


For dinner we head away from the beach, crossing over both Speedway (which is such a cool street name) and Pacific Avenue to reach Main Street.  Here, along Main Street, are a variety of restaurants and shops (which is perfect for that late night chocolate purchase, right Alex?)

So, it has been a full-on day for our first day exploring Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach in sunny (or smoggy) Los Angeles, California.  What better way to end our day than enjoying the view from our own private hotel rooftop.  Wow.

Tomorrow we will be braving Los Angeles’ public transport to (hopefully) enjoy some retail therapy and pick up some bargains from an LA’s shopping outlet centre.

For previous USA series post see San Francisco – cable car, Lombard Street and Golden Gate Bridge
For next USA series post see Citadel Outlet Shopping, Los Angeles