By Donna Polizzi
The Central Coast has so much to do and offers so many opportunities that living here is undeniably one of the best regions in the world for charming small towns and endless entertainment while enjoying the surreal natural beauty.
On occasion, it’s fun to take off to the hustle and bustle of a big city. L.A. is no doubt a fascinating place for people watching, entertainment and a vibe that’s electric. I love Santa Monica and, the good news is, it’s only an hour flight out of the Santa Maria Public Airport on Moukele Airlines to LAX.
Santa Monica is a terrific place to get away and one of my favorite stops is Shutters Hotel on The Beach. It is one of the most beautiful hotels that I have seen and it overlooks the boardwalk and Santa Monica State Beach. It is a huge southern plantation style facility that stuns. When you walk in, the smell of lavender wafts through the lobby and hallways. Spacious oceanfront suites offer a sensational view of the water and the boardwalk.
Shutters on The Beach Hotel has several good restaurants on the property, with breathtaking views and seaside dining. You’ll enjoy everything from fresh seafood, quick bite’s and generous drinks, overlooking the beach boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier. In the same building, on the upper level, is the One Pico restaurant, which is a fine dining restaurant with a fantastic view.
Downstairs, there is no better place for cocktails than the Coast Beach Cafe and Bar. It faces the beach and it’s a great spot to have a sumptuous piece of coconut cake, or better yet, if you’re looking for a delicious meal on the healthier side, they offer up a hefty piece of grilled salmon with broccolini.
It was exciting to face the beach and watch the surfers run into the water with their boards… hundreds of people on the bike path from tricycle age to seniors all getting exercise, having fun and breathing in the fresh ocean air.
Muscle beach is steps away, which hosts a fluid stream of entertainment. This original location of Muscle beach is “the birthplace of the physical fitness boom of the 20th century.”
Just stroll along the boardwalk and you are likely to see fascinating and jaw dropping stunts, tightrope walkers over the sand, people with unique talents doing a variety of interesting activities and jugglers, wrestlers, ballet dancers, contortionists… how DO they do that? The entire area is a full of performers. If Shakespeare we’re here he’d say, “All the worlds a stage and we are merely players.”
Musicians space themselves up and down the boardwalk. Grunge hard rock girl bands, soloists with amazing voices, to the strum of a ukulele can be enjoyed, all hoping for tips. The area is simply buzzing with energy.
Next stop…. Visit the 3rd Street Promenade- you’ll find several blocks of interesting stores, just two blocks from the ocean. The street is closed off and down the center are huge dinosaurs sculptured landscape pieces that are covered in Jasmine, spraying water into fountains. The Promenade is full of excitement. Street performers’ line the area, everything from fantastic opera singers to more contortionists (where is his face- oh me!) to clowns.
At the corner of 3rd street and Broadway, is Cafe Crepe, that pulls you in the door, against your will, by the delicious aroma of fresh crepes cooking. They have a little outdoor patio right in front of an enormous Triceratops water fountain.
If you like Greek food, there is a restaurant in the 3rd Street Promenade called “The STOP’N CAFE”. It that was established in 1988. For starters, they have fantastic Falafels, which are a traditional appetizer in Greek Cuisine. Falafels have such a unique flavor, it’s hard to know what’s in them. So, I will tell you. Falafels are made with chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, garlic fresh herbs. Another savory must try is Avgolemono soup, a homemade, chicken, egg, lemon and orzo pasta soup. My husband is half Greek and he shared that it was almost as good as his moms.
If I lived in the LA area, I’d be a regular at these locations and I’m thrilled that I can hop on a morning Moukele flight and experience something truly out of the ordinary. I encourage you to get out there and have some fun. Bend over backwards if you must!