Life in LA revolves around traffic. Where you live, where you work and where you wanderlust all depends on traffic. Small wonder then that I had been putting off a traffic-choked 50mile trip North to the famous Santa Monica Pier. Finally, on my birthday, more importantly, at my wife’s ultimatum, I summoned the courage in March of 2013. Of course we had a great time! There’s a reason for all that traffic.
After miles of bumper-to-bumper, it was nice to stretch our legs at Muscle Beach, which spreads beneath the Santa Monica Pier. The beach has gymnastic equipment planted along a large section of the beach; this beach must have started health revolution in America (also there is a large sign claiming this). The health conscious can choose from any level of physical activity to suit their style: running, cycling, skating, surfing and gymnastics. We started at the easy level – a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk. The beach has something for all ages; my son had a great time in the kids play area, he got his workout.
If you watch enough TV, one might argue Hollywood need to exercise their brains more than their muscles. Well Hollywood, Muscle beach has you covered: a ‘Chess Park’. There’s tables with embedded chessboard surrounding a cool large chess board about 10’x 10’ in size. You can play with large 2 feet chess pieces. Some really committed chess players gather there.
Traffic always makes me hungry; naturally I had appetite and there are plenty of overpriced options with a view of the ocean, along the beach and on the Santa Monica pier itself. We burned our money on the later. The Pier doesn’t seem like a pier at all; rather it’s like a giant fair set over the ocean – there are arcades, games, concerts, shopping, roller-coasters and of course the famous Ferris Wheel. And on a typical LA-style beautiful spring afternoon, it’s packed – THIS is where the traffic is going! The pier is also the end of famous 66-Highway. You can’t miss it; there are always a lot of people taking pictures under the sign.
We watched sunset from the Pier and then for the evening head over to Santa Monica’s premier shopping street, home of all things high-end – the Third Street Promenade. The street is closed to traffic and full of shoppers: Great place for people watching and window-shopping. My son had a good time too. He ran over and hugged a giant ice-cream cone in the middle of the street. I thought it was cute and took a picture. Turns out it was a giant trashcan! We had a tough time pulling him away from it.
To top-off an excellent day, we celebrated my birthday dinner at the La Sandia restaurant at the end of Third Street. Lucky for us they had a food festival going on, which features enchiladas from different parts of Mexico. The mouth-watering food, soothing ambiance and birds eye view of the street, made it an evening to remember!