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- 19 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Next to the non-stop culture of Los Angeles city, Santa Monica's chilled-out, hippy atmosphere could be a welcome change of pace. It's part of downtown LA, but with its good-vibes beaches, energetic pier and relaxed attitude, it feels like a world all of its own. Roller skaters weave along the seafront, artists lounge in local cafés, and the rich and famous saunter around going about their daily lives. It's a sunny town with an even brighter disposition.
Hostels in Santa Monica will never take you too far away from the beach. The hostel experience is all about meeting new people, swapping stories and passing on tips, so most have shared spaces like common rooms or kitchens. Or, if you fancy a peaceful retreat, you can choose a place with private rooms, and some even with cable TV. If you're driving, look out for a Santa Monica hostel with free parking.
Downtown Santa Monica is the liveliest shopping area. Its twice-weekly farmers' market and street performers keep it feeling fun and offbeat, and this is the place to be for rooftop bars and quality cocktails. Mid-city is where you'll find the most-lauded restaurants, while the Main Street neighbourhood has an authentic surfer vibe, complete with art galleries and excellent coffee shops. Head to the Pier area and Ocean Avenue to see why people love Santa Monica's beaches so much.
A visit to Santa Monica is a chance to tick some seriously iconic sights off your bucket list. Venice Beach is a colourful commotion of street performers, quirky shops and typically Californian skateboarders. It's also where you'll find the famous Muscle Beach gym, which was once Arnold Schwarzenegger's go-to place for working out, plus a weekend drum circle (free to join!) and basketball courts where you can watch or play. You can take a ride on the century-old Looff Hippodrome Carousel on Santa Monica Pier. For something cultural, head to the collection of art galleries at Bergamot Station.
Flying into LAX will land you close to your destination, on the USA's west coast. The FlyAway airport bus takes around 30 minutes to Union Station in downtown LA, and from there you can catch the metro into Santa Monica. It'll take about 1.5 hours in all. Santa Monica itself is easy to explore on foot or by bike, and the metro and bus services will get you to most other parts of LA fairly quickly.
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