Palisades Park#5 in Best Things To Do in Santa Monica
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For beautiful views of Santa Monica Bay without rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists, walk a block back from the beach to Palisades Park. Situated within walking distance of central sights like the Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade, this narrow but long park – which is bordered by Ocean Avenue, the Pacific Coast Highway, Colorado Avenue and Adelaide Drive – offers plenty of postcard-worthy vistas. What's more, the 26.4-acre park is packed with amenities designed to help you relax while soaking up some sun. In addition to housing standard park facilities like picnic tables, benches and restrooms, you'll have access to a rose garden, pétanque courts and a space that hosts monthly art classes for adults. There's also a visitors center kiosk on-site, should you want additional information about things to see and do in the area.
When you're not taking pictures of the water, visitors say you should admire the park's gorgeous flora. You'll find all kinds of drought-tolerant species here, including agave plants and palm trees. Plus, Palisades Park features a gorgeous rose garden and interesting sculptures travelers highly recommend checking out. However, finding an empty park bench can be a challenge at times due to the park's popularity with the local homeless community, so consider heading to the northern end, which some say tends to be quieter.
Palisades Park is free to visit 24 hours a day. If you're not walking to the park from other nearby attractions, you can drive and park at one of the metered spaces on the surrounding streets or use public transportation. Several Big Blue Bus routes service the area, and the LA Metro's Downtown Santa Monica Station sits a few blocks northeast of the park's southern end. Head to the City of Santa Monica's Community Services Department website to find out more.
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#1 Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Santa Monica's 3 ½ miles of shoreline, known as Santa Monica State Beach, are renowned as some of the area's best thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. In addition to the gorgeous stretch of sand, the beach is home to unique amenities like the Original Muscle Beach (a 1930s-era beach park with retro gym equipment) and the International Chess Park. What's more, the beach offers traditional facilities, such as the North Beach Playground and the Annenberg Community Beach House. But perhaps the beach's best-known attraction is its famous pier.
Stretching from the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk (the end of Route 66) to a spot above Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Monica Pier is the beach's most recognizable landmark. Not only will you see it in countless photos of the city, but you'll also catch a glimpse of it in several films, including "Forrest Gump." Some of its most popular amenities include a historic carousel, Heal the Bay Aquarium and Pacific Park, which boasts an assortment of arcade games, rides and food stalls.
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