Santa Monica Beach stretches just three and half miles between Malibu and Venice, California, but there is likely no other span of sand that has been broadcast across the U.S. through film and television as much as has this Hollywood favorite.
Paralleling Ocean Avenue are "The Cliffs" (as the locals say), a narrow oceanside oasis overlooking Santa Monica Beach boasting enormous palm trees, walking trails, grass areas, public bathrooms, picnic tables, and stairs down to the beach. The Cliffs are alive with runners, strollers, fitness groups, and baseball-capped could-be-celebrities. It is a wonderful place to people watch and soak in the scenery.
Swimming and surfing are popular water activities, while many visitors and locals alike utilize the South Bay Bicycle Trail, a paved path that runs 22 miles along the coast from Malibu south to Torrance. Runners, bikers, roller bladers, and walkers are welcome on this scenic route -- just note the designated walking areas on the left hand side of the path.
The celebrity of Santa Monica Beach often precedes its reputation as an earthy, undeniably beautiful place awarded a spot on the American Planning Association's list of ten "Great Public Spaces in America" in 2008. The list also features prominent areas such as Union Station in Washington D.C. and New York City's Central Park.
But Santa Monica Beach has always seemed at ease in the presence of legends. The Ocean House just off of the Pacific Coast Highway originally accommodated lavish parties for famed Ziegfeld girl Marion Davies. Davies' sometime lover and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst built it specifically for the budding film actress in the early 1920s. The tides of time dulled the splendor of The Ocean House until the 1990s, when television producer Aaron Spelling featured the house in his TV teen drama "90210".
Now legendary in its own right, Santa Monica Beach welcomes admirers from all walks of life; after all, doesn't everyone deserve a place in the sun?
- Ocean Avenue, Los Angeles CA
- Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.santamonica.com
- LA County Department of Public Health, Water Quality: www.lapublichealth.org
- LA County of Beaches & Harbors: www.beaches.co.la.ca.us
- A Wheelchair Riders Guide to LA Beaches: www.coastalconservancy.ca.gov