One of the best parts about driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the Pacific Palisades is how easy it is to pull over and enjoy the beach. While most of the beach cities around only have paid lots or garages, maybe on-street metered parking at best, the stretches of highway through this area have ample space alongside the road to pull off and park just about anywhere you’d like… for free. The best way to see the coast through this part of Los Angeles County is by driving south. Luckily, anytime I venture that far north on the PCH I’m required to head back down the way I came, unless I wanted to continue far north enough to jump on the 101 in Oxnard in neighboring Ventura County. This gives the drivers and passengers each a new way to view the coastline, and with so many places to pull over along the beach side of the highway I’m always happy to drive in the right lane, ready to park at a moment’s notice.
Chels and I pulled over for a few quiet minutes to enjoy our Starbucks Frappuccinos on this rocky embankment after our visit to the Getty Villa. It was quiet, other than the sounds of passing traffic. Though I was disappointed to see so much graffiti on the rocks.
A little further south, we headed up the hill to downtown Santa Monica to walk around a little bit. We tried to visit the Camera Obscura on Ocean Avenue but arrived just 15 minutes after they closed at 3pm. Across the street is the Georgian Hotel; I have absolutely no reason to spend the night in Santa Monica but I almost want to just so I can stay here! We ventured though the cliff-front park for views of the PCH and infamous pier before heading back to the car to head home.
You know when you visit a place you’ve seen in movies, photographs, etc, and then it’s completely different from how you imagined when you actually see it in real life? That’s the Santa Monica Pier for me. It always looks like this when you see it depicted elsewhere. The reality isn’t terrible, it’s just a lot less charming. You don’t exactly expect a six lane highway, constant construction, and a giant parking lot on the beach, all separating the pier from the rest of downtown. Again, not terrible, but it’s not the most gorgeous thing in the world. The pier itself is okay, worth a walk for your travel checklist for sure, but the theme park on the pier is sort of like a dumpy county fair. Beautiful at night, worth the visit, but I may pass on the rides.
Santa Monica is one place where I hope to spend one more great day before we move. Dan has yet to visit this city and it is definitely not one to miss!