Friendly and liberal, Santa Monica is a great spot to visit, a compact, accessible bastion of oceanside charm that, incidentally, has traditionally attracted a large contingent of British expats (though many have recently left “Little Britain”, as it’s called, in search of cheaper rents).

Santa Monica reaches nearly three miles inland, but most spots of interest are within a few blocks of the Pacific Ocean, notably Palisades Park, the pleasant, cypress-tree-lined strip along the top of the bluffs that makes for striking views of the surf below. Two blocks east of Ocean Avenue, the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrianized stretch between Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway with street vendors, buskers and itinerant evangelists, is the closest LA comes to having a dynamic urban energy, and by far the best place to come for alfresco dining, beer-drinking and people-watching, especially after dark. Further south, another good stretch is Main Street, where the visitor centre is located (see p.841), and which boasts a serviceable array of fine restaurants, bars, shops and a few galleries.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
5 reasons why Seattle is a city on the up

5 reasons why Seattle is a city on the up

"Seattle has more cranes than any other city in America" wasn't one of the most interesting facts delivered during my tour of the Emerald City. It being the hom…

12 Dec 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

Next year marks 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and also the launch of a new Civil Rights Trail through the USA's south. On a road …

05 Dec 2017 • Ella Buchan local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right