You’ve arrived in town very late the night before, not wildly enthusiastic, because you’ve heard that L.A. is a vast, challenging amorphous place to figure out, and like so many other major metropolitan cities around the world, it’s snarled by traffic during critical hours of the day and night.
But it’s now sunrise and the view you’ve awakened to challenges all of those presumptions. Stepping out onto the balcony, a rainbow of swirly neon light catches your eye, like a pinwheel. As your eyes focus, they span the ocean and surprisingly arrive at a Ferris Wheel that appears to be suspended over the bay.
It is, in fact, because it’s located on the historic Santa Monica Pier that is the home of the Merry-Go-Round you’ve seen in retro films like “The Sting.” The infamous Chez Jay restaurant, a.k.a “bar” by locals, was in a pivotal scene in “A Single Man,” and is almost directly across from the pier, within walking distance of where you’re “residing” during your stay in Los Angeles. It’s no surprise then, that this is the City where The American Film Market is conducted – an annual International gathering where filmmakers and industry executives come from around the world to buy and sell films.
You recall that the concierge told you that both of The Getty Museums – The Getty Villa Malibu and The Getty Center Los Angeles – are both just 15 minutes away. Once again,we’re reminded that history does exist in L.A.
Welcome to Los Angeles – more specifically, Santa Monica – a beach town with a confident vibe of relaxed sophistication. Your ocean-view room is at the uber-eco Shore Hotel, which is registered to receive Silver LEED Certification and is 1 point away from Gold.
Hence, the “Green Concierge” who greeted you last night on arrival. As a result, you’re starting the day with a YogaWorks Vinyasa class, followed by a shot of fair-trade espresso that you sip while strolling the Wednesday Farmer’s Market on 2nd Street, where most of the famous chefs in town shop.
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, “the two hot tamales” of the Border Grill, have their food truck at the Market so you can stay mobile while sustaining yourself on a fish taco and churro for dessert. Or, if you’re feeling like sitting down with a margarita –trolling with one is not yet permitted in Santa Monica – LOL! – you may walk two blocks over to 4th Street for a sit-down at the brick and mortar location of the Border Grill.
Here to work on one of your projects in Social Marketing, it is time to take a break from your sunrise to noon reverie for…actual work. Blank Spaces on 2nd Street has reserved your office and conference room for an important multimedia meeting scheduled at 2:00pm. They’ve given you the flexibility to extend into as many days needed, based on how these and other meetings go while you’re in town. It’s like having a virtual office on-demand. They’ve assured you that on future visits, if you do not have the time to plan in advance, their walk-in rates for office and conference use are very reasonable. You’re set.
It becomes very clear why Santa Monica has recently been anointed with the honorary title of “Silicon Beach.” While at Blank Spaces, you continue to encounter dynamic entrepreneurs and writers in town on special projects working under a hip, communal roof – sharing the synergy of creativity – and a generosity of spirit that results in the exchange of ideas in the communal work café, as well as impromptu lunches and dinners at some of the fantastic restaurants in the neighborhood.
The Blue Plate Oysterette is just around the corner from Blank Spaces. It feels like Nice or Paris, with the fabulous tile and glass décor, sweeping views of palm trees, the sea, and yes, the Ferris Wheel. The seafood tastes as if it is freshly caught from the ocean you are gazing at, but that’s not entirely possible since they also feature fish flown in fresh from around the world. The preparations are innovative, capturing the attention of your palate, while also enlivening all of your senses.
Dessert is a few block’s walk up the ocean view promenade and a quick right on to Wilshire Boulevard – which, by the way, goes all the way from the beach to downtown L.A. – the subject of a whole other story. Yummy Cupcakes has a whimsical outpost on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica – the cupcakes are transcendent. If a health food infusion is needed at any point, Whole Foods is just a few more blocks east on Wilshire.
Unique shops are an art form in Santa Monica. Several streets are famous for their ensemble of unique boutiques. Explore Main Street, which is just a few blocks south of the Shore Hotel, and Montana Ave is a beautiful two-mile walk with an ocean view.
While strolling, jogging, or biking along Palisades Park, when you arrive at Montana Ave, pause at the stairs that lead to the PCH and Santa Monica Beach. As you look north, you’ll see the architecture of the Marion Davies Estate, which was where she and her romantic partner, William Randolph Hearst (think: “Citizen Kane”) spent summer days and evenings.
The property had fallen on very hard times, until quite recently, when Wallis Annenberg of the Annenberg Foundation provided a $27.5 million grant and worked tirelessly with the State of California and the City of Santa Monica to establish the first public beach club in the United States. The Annenberg Community Beach House opened in the spring of 2009, and was awarded a Gold LEED rating from the US Green Building Council. The City of Santa Monica operates the ACBH.
The famous architect, Julia Morgan was responsible for most of the beautiful design of the Marion Davies estate. The original, gorgeous tiled pool is the centerpiece of the ACBH. Days by the pool are magnificent.
The temperate Mediterranean climate of that particular stretch of beach lends itself to year-round swimming. It is the hope of locals and visitors who have heard about ACBH, and come to visit from around the world, that soon the pool will be open year-round – at least on weekends. At present, it is only open during the summer months.
Whether it’s snowing in New York, steamy in Washington D.C., foggy in London, or the rainy season in India – the sun, sand, and vibrancy of “Silicon Beach” offer a copacetic oasis virtually 365 days a year.
The Shore Hotel is offering a special rate to the readers of Expand or Contract(?)!
When booking mention Expand or Contract (?)! offer code: EORC for a 15% EorC Discount.
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