GUEST ARTICLE: Depending on your time of arrival it can take about one hour to reach the famous rays and waves of Santa Monica from Los Angeles International Airport (more commonly known as ‘LAX’) after battling the famous highway gridlock – which was recently predicted to reach ‘Carmageddon’ status .
Prime Time Shuttle , part of the national GO Airport Shuttle network provides a highly reliable and cost effective shared transportation solution to and from LAX at all hours of the day, from as little as $15 (plus driver tip) one way.
For passengers arriving at Los Angeles’ other LAX – LAX Union Station on an Amtrak rail service, it’s equally easy to get to Santa Monica in about an hour for a couple of dollars on the Big Blue Bus . Just walk out of the main station entrance and cross the road heading to the North Alameda Street bus stop.
Hostelling International Santa Monica offers the only hostel in the area with an unbeatable location, within a stone’s throw of Santa Monica Beach and the world famous retail heartland of Third Street Promenade .
Although the dormitories feel somewhat dated, the facilities are clean and offer locker and luggage storage, breakfast, self-catering kitchen, tourist map, wireless internet, patio, walking tours and healthy discounts with Los Angeles Sight Seeing Tours next door.
Whether you’re into people or poodle watching, witnessing street performances, or pure retail therapy, Third Street Promenade has a wide selection of popular retailers like GAP, Esprit, and Old Navy and upscale designers all on one long pedestrianised retail strip. Put your feet up at Cafe Crepe and tuck into one of its thin crust pizzas or its variety of sweet and savoury crepes for a break from the constant stream of foot traffic milling up and down Third Street.
If you’re yearning for an escape from urban retail on a Wednesday or Saturday, the Santa Monica Farmers Markets in Downtown showcases fresh, sustainable, organic and seasonal California agriculture ranging from Pinkertons avocadoes, succulent blueberries, crusty sourdough breads, raw milk and Californian pecans.
A walk along Santa Monica Beach towards the iconic Santa Monica Pier is a great way to soak in the local rollerblading, cycling and fitness scene as well as the Home of the Original Muscle Beach. Venice Beach and Malibu are also very close by for fans of the hit TV show Baywatch.
Check out one of the many tours available as Los Angeles County is deceptively large, the attractions are spread far and wide, and the public subway and bus transport can require a bit of forward planning.
The Los Angeles Grand Tour and Movie Stars’ Homes tour from Los Angeles Sight Seeing Tours is great value for anyone short on time and without the energy to digest a combination of bus and rail schedules. Apart from having time to look for stars or pretending to be one at the big ticket attractions like Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios and Mullholland Drive, historic Olvera Street Market is worth exploring to experience some Mexican handicrafts and snacks. The tour even included a transfer to LAX on request.
If you’re heading to Chicago and not in a hurry, consider taking a long distance scenic Amtrak train service like the South West Chief, which cuts through mountains, deserts and remote townships on its epic journey, traversing sections of the now deactivated Route 66, it’ll be cheaper and more enjoyable than driving: Frommer’s Online Travel Guide.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media. To view more of Pranav’s photos from around the world visit his Flickr PhotoStream
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution