Sitting on a bay of the same name, surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a small seaside city only eight miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In 1769, upon seeing the surrounding natural springs, Father Juan Crespi, a member of Gaspar de Portola’s expedition, named the area for Saint Monica, as the springs reminded him of her tears for her son. From Spanish rule to Mexican in the early 19th century, the area soon became a winter playground for the East Coast upper crust. After several large purchases of land by such wealthy individuals, the city of Santa Monica was incorporated in 1887.
Separated into eight districts, each with a unique character, the city’s mere 8.3 square miles has plenty to offer. The open-air Third Street Promenade shopping area draws thousands of visitors daily for shopping and dining. Santa Monica Pierprovides a historic carousel and over-the-water amusement park (be sure to enjoy the Skee-Ball and win tickets exchangeable for glorious stuffed prizes). Art galleries line Main Street just two blocks from the ocean. The original Santa Monica Muscle Beach, made famous by the godfather of fitness Jack LaLanne, is fully restored and refurbished and ready for your workout (or just a photo op). Four separate farmers’ markets throughout the week offer everything from fresh to produce to artisanal cheeses to pony rides. If Saint Monica could visit now, she certainly would see no reason to weep.