The Lady's Hideaway
Stay at the Georgian Hotel, the early beachside hideaway for Hollywood elites and Santa Monica's first skyscraper (and one-time speakeasy). Rosamond Borde, a ground-breaking (literally) female hotel developer, built the Art Deco-Romanesque Revival pastiche in 1933. If you're only a day-tripper, at least have a drink on the Ocean View veranda where celebrities still drop by. You may recognize the place if you saw "Get Shorty."
Go to the Market
Don't miss the Farmers' Market (not to be confused with the one downtown) whether you're snapping photos or filling a shopping basket. The largest grower-only certified farmers market in Southern California takes place downtown along Arizona Avenue between 4th Street and Ocean every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm. Popular with local chefs, it has an amazing variety - and tasty samples.
Check out the public art, shops, restaurants and street performers along the Third Street Promenade which runs into Santa Monica Place, a shopping bonanza of high-end department stores and shops, eateries and a new 14-screen cinema only a couple of blocks from the pier.
Santa Monica Pier
Route 66, known as America's main street, ends officially at the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier, a tourist destination for over a century. The pier is home to the only solar-powered ferris wheel in the US, a roller coaster, a historic merry-go-round, an aquarium, souvenir shops and a trapeze school. And yes, you can drop a line from the pier, and without a fishing license. If you want to grab a bite, you've the choice from food stalls to fish houses like The Albright with its communal tables. Hours on the pier vary according to season and activity, so you may want to swing back by after the sun goes down for a different experience.
In case you haven't noticed, you've entered the Land of Beautiful Bodies. Johnny G opened the first spin center in Santa Monica and Joe Gold opened the first Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, which became the mecca of body building. Take in the sights as you stroll, cycle or motor the 2.5 miles (4 km) along the sea down to Muscle Beach to see where the bodies are built. The walk takes about 15 to 30 minutes unless you dawdle along the way.
Sunset at Venice Beach Pier
Venice Beach is a destination in itself. If Santa Monica Pier is a carnival, Venice Beach's Ocean Front Walk is the circus, with one entertaining sight after another. A seaside resort since 1905, it is a sandy Greenwich Village where The Doors began. As the day winds down, grab a craft beer at the Venice Ale House or head to the High Rooftop & Lounge at the Hotel Erwin to watch the sunset before heading back up to the Santa Monica Pier to spend the evening.