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Ditch the car and put on your walking shoes because the easiest way to get around Santa Monica is by walking or hopping on the Big Blue Bus. Everything is laid out on a grid system - with numbered streets running north and south, and main thoroughfares like Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Pico Blvd, and Ocean Park Blvd. running east and west. Most places that tourists will want to see are clustered around the 3rd Street Promenade shopping/dining area and Main Street, but don’t miss Montana Ave. in the north end of the city for some unique and boutique style shops. If you’re feeling a bit tired, hop on the Big Blue Bus, Santa Monica’s own municipal bus line with over a dozen routes and modern buses. As you might have guessed, these buses are blue and you just can’t miss them. You’ll see signs all over the place where you can board different bus routes. At each stop there are maps detailing where each bus line goes and the fares are a paltry $.75 for a local bus line and $1.75 for an Express route. Finally something that doesn’t cost a lot in L.A.!
From Santa Monica you should also walk the mile-and-a-half south along the water to Venice Beach because no traveler should miss out on the freakshow that is the Venice Boardwalk. Cluttered with odd shops and street vendors selling everything from art, homemade jewelry and clothing (as well as a million other things you will find that you just have to have), the Boardwalk is a spectacle in itself. This is probably your only chance to see a turbaned, guitar-playing rollberblader, as well as the guy who displays large poster boards on easels full of his scribbled rants and raves on everything from politics to religion and women’s rights. Don’t forget to stop by Muscle Beach to gawk at the weightlifters while there, as well.
The Tide Shuttle is an eco-friendly electric-powered tram which takes you from the 3rd Street Promenade south to beach parking lots, and returns northbound on Main Street, swinging north on 4th Street, then west on Broadway to complete the loop. Only 25-cents per person.
Want to see the rest of L.A. and let someone else drive? Several tour companies pick up at most Santa Monica hotels, including
Amazing L.A. Tours and
L.A. Sightseeing. Offering City Tours, transportation to the Getty Center, Amusement Parks, Tijuana, you name it, they go there.