The mention of Santa Monica conjures images of languid movie stars, oceanfront estates, kitschy theme parks, and freakish natural beauty. Santa Monica Beach, a silky stretch of white sand just off the bluff of Ocean Boulevard, beckons surfers and sun-worshippers. Miles of soft sand and mild waves soothe the hectic mind. But Santa Monica isn’t just a Lotus Land of sun and sand peppered with tanned celebrities. People aren’t just lying around like lizards on the beach (though many are). Make no mistake: this is, despite the apparent languor, a body-conscious, body-friendly zone, a place of muscular activity, where physical exertion, fitness, and beauty form its core principles.

Which is to say, not everyone tools around Santa Monica in Kodachrome Ferraris. Many locals and visitors alike rollerblade, wind-skate, jog, walk, and bike everywhere, for pleasure or lifestyle choice. Miles of bike paths circle and crisscross the city. Palisades Park, a 25-acre sprawl of palm trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a Mecca for bikers, hikers, walkers, yogis and voyeurs taking in the Muscle Beach exhibition.

Behind Ocean Boulevard, parallel to the beach, lies the pedestrian-friendly Third Street Promenade, a two mile jaunt of shops and eateries where vehicles are prohibited and the exercise will justify a seaside feast. At the end of historic Route 66 looms the Santa Monica Pier and its Ferris wheel, roller coaster and merry-go-round. Acrobats and circus clowns will keep you on your toes, and live evening music will drive you to dance. All of this taking place some 30 feet above the lapping blue of the Pacific.

Just a short bike ride or power-walk south down the bike path brings you to mythical Muscle Beach, the Medina of the body beautiful, where young Arnold Schwarzenegger used to strut his rhomboids before branching off into other forms of posing, and Venice Boardwalk, that catwalk of beach culture, kitsch, trinkets, tasty grub and breezy bars.

WHERE TO STAY: The Hotel Oceana sits right on Ocean Avenue in a presitgious residential area, just steps from Santa Monica Beach, Palisades Park and Third Street Promenade. Stay with us for a complimentary upgrade and waived service feeds which includes use of pool, fitness center, beach cruiser bicycles, WiFi, newspaper and local calls.

Shutters on the Beach is one of only two hotels right on the sandy shores of Santa Monica. Enjoy a full gamut of amenities from an intimate outdoor pool deck with a heated pool, whirlpool spa, poolside cabanas, chaise lounges, offers the ideal place to lay back and relax while listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves lapping up on the shore.

The Hotel Casa Del Mar is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Pacific, a cozy retreat on a chilly evening, your first stop and your last.  This 5 star boutique luxury hotel offers the ambience of a modern California beach club while paying homage to the original grandeur and Renaissance aesthetic that has made it a favorite for both Santa Monica elites and discerning travelers alike.

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