What’s Doing in Santa Monica and Venice
Two of the country’s most cultural and lively towns, Santa Monica and Venice, California, are, like the rest of Los Angeles, graced by picture-perfect weather year round. The neighboring beach towns offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Los Angeles, and are the city’s most frequented beaches.
Part of Los Angeles’ Westside community, Santa Monica was populated by early settlers in the late 1800s, with the city’s first town hall being erected in 1873, and the first hotel opening in 1885. The city went through tough times during the Great Depression, but various factors, including the completion of the Santa Monica Freeway, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Third Street Promenade contributed to bring the city out of its slump.
South of Santa Monica is Venice, the cultural hotspot of Los Angeles. An independent city until it merged with Los Angeles in 1926, Venice is named for its man-made canals, built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney with the intention of recreating the mood and atmosphere of Venice, Italy. Due to neglect, Venice’s canals and buildings soon fell into disrepair, and by the 1950s it became known as the Slum by the Sea. However, the low housing costs attracted members of the counterculture and Beat Generation, whose presence and artistic influence, along with the renovation of the canals in 1992, helped foster a resurgence. Today, Venice is a vibrant and flourishing artistic community.
WHAT TO DO
Aside from surfing, swimming, and sunbathing, there are many activities available in Santa Monica and Venice. Start out at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, a three-block stretch of pedestrians-only walking and shopping space. The area is crammed with retail outlets, restaurants, and a variety of street performers.
South of the promenade is Tongva Park, a new attraction that opened in 2013. The space is replete with fountains, gardens, sculptures, and trails. It includes an amphitheater and playground, with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Directly across the street from Tongva Park is the entrance to the famed Santa Monica Pier. U.S. Route 66, which starts in Chicago and traverses a good portion of the American Mid and Southwest, ends at the pier, and the pier itself offers many diverse attractions.