Your Destination Guide to Los Angeles

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Santa Monica

Santa Monica
Santa Monica

© Dehk

There has always been something intangibly alluring about Santa Monica, something that attracts vacationers from the East Coast, the Northwest, Europe, and even native Californians from all over the state. Is it just the natural beauty of the coast? The contrast of the bougainvillea blooms against the dusty green sage scrub and hardy chaparrals? The intriguing history of past starlets and iconic business people who built homes, hotels and empires on the same sunny avenues that exist today?

Whatever the reason, Santa Monica has remained a destination that sparks the imagination and pulls at the heart strings of many travelers.

Santa Monica's first recorded visitor was Spanish explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, who landed with his troop of ships on what is now Will Rogers Beach in 1562. Claimed for Spain, the area of Santa Monica did not come into its modern boundaries until around 1887 when Colonel Robert S. Baker and Senator John Jones formed a plan for the new city.

Santa Monica almost immediately became a vacation destination for wealthy East Coasters as well as up-and-coming magnates from California. Senator Jones constructed the luxurious Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue in 1888 to cater to the growing number of upper class tourists.

After the construction of the Santa Monica wharf in 1893, even more people were drawn to the area as jobs opened up in the fledgling fishing industry. The wharf was a mile long, the longest in the world at the time, and served as the primary port for all of Los Angeles until San Pedro eclipsed its production in 1893. By 1903 the wharf was mostly obsolete and was later dismantled completely.

As the movie star became a new part of the American society in the 1920s, the popularity of Santa Monica rose along with the number of celebrities it entertained.

The revamping of the Santa Monica Pier and the construction of Third Street Promenade in the 1980s appealed to a new wave of destination travelers seeking great shopping and reliable fun. The Pier was now a one-stop shop for food, sun, carnival rides, and beautiful views of the beach and ocean. Third Street remains one of the most heavily trafficked shopping streets in all of Los Angeles, known to see up to 7,000 visitors a day.

There must be a reason, then, that so many have loved this place. A reason why visitors vow to return and residents stay on for generations. Perhaps your own trip to Santa Monica will help you unravel the mystery.

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