Staycation. I haven’t seen a lamer marketing campaign since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Mascot embarrassment, Whatizit (if you don’t know about this wikipedia it- it’s worth it). Big cities are losing money by the lack of people being able to afford traveling so it seems they are pushing the locals to be a tourist in their own town. It wouldn’t bother me so much except, a) I will now constantly be singing staycation in place of Vacation by Blondie every time I hear it and b) it’s a sad attempt to make people feel better about losing their jobs, not getting a raise, or losing their house to foreclosure or their money to the stock market.
I do agree that locals don’t take enough time to explore their own cities. For me, staying at home in Santa Monica during the majority of the summer has been a great way to discover all the new and exciting things that tourists travel hundreds or thousands of miles to see in my own town. Many of us do live in cities that are a tourist hotspot but we seem to forget that (or want to forget it). I remember living in New York City and trying to avoid Times Square like the plague. But the moments I did find myself in the middle of it, I’d take a minute to stop and look around me and I’d remember that feeling of awe I’d had the very first time I stood there and saw all the lights and felt all the energy that accumulates in that very spot.
Like Times Square, I also try to avoid the Santa Monica Pier, especially in the summer. Everything on the pier is overpriced, overcrowded, and commercialized. I never saw any originality anywhere on it. But I was lucky enough to visit it with my young nephews this year and see it through the eyes of a child and I realized there is something beautiful to be discovered and enjoyed, like the carousel and eating ice cream as you walk to the end of the pier and back.
At the entrance of the pier, there is a delicious, original restaurant called The Lobster. It’s a little pricey but the views are spectacular and the food and drinks live up to the price. But if your wallet is a little light, I’d highly recommend going at sunset and eating some appetizers at the bar as the sun disappears behind the waves. It’s worth it, and you won’t go broke.
Another wonderful tourist attraction that locals take advantage of too is the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The famous market is on Sunday mornings but there are two other Santa Monica Farmer’s Markets. They are every Monday and Wednesday on Arizona Street
at 3rd Street
Promenade. You’ll take pleasure in the same wonderful produce, flowers, meat, and other local delicacies, without the crowds, restaurants, or shops trying to get a piece of you as well. It’s what a Farmer’s Market should be. It has almost double the booths and if you want the farmer’s market experience without the inflated prices, several of the vendors will give big markdowns right before they close around .
This summer seemed especially busy all around Santa Monica as people’s broke asses made use of the free beaches. If you are going to the beach, I’ve found that one of the best ways to experience it is renting a bike and then riding on the beautiful, winding bike path along the sand. To get the maximum enjoyment on your ride I’d take these few tips: avoid biking in the middle of the day in the summer and head north on the bike path towards the Palisades. Though some people love the eccentricity of life in Venice, the bike path is always swarming with angst ridden teenagers, drugged out bums, and clueless tourists. All things I do not want to deal with while peddling on two slender wheels.
There are many great restaurants in Santa Monica but since most of us regularly eat out at them it wouldn’t be a vacation to eat at them. What would be a vacation is ordering take-out from your favorite local spot and then wondering to the PalisadesPark on Ocean Avenue
and making a picnic on the grass or on one of the many picnic tables provided. The park is a beautiful narrow stretch of palm trees, rose gardens, and sculptures overlooking the cliffs at the edge of Santa Monica. You can watch sailboats coast by or just enjoy people watching as joggers, doggies, mothers, and couples take advantage of the luscious park. And hey, you won’t have to tip your waitress.
Being a tourist in Santa Monica as a local can be relaxing and feel like an escape if you just tweak a few of your everyday activities. Whether my ass is broke or shiny and new, I plan on exploring more of what a tourist comes to see in Santa Monica but I will change the channel the next time a commercial flaunting a Staycation comes on.
Brooke, a NYC transplant, now lives life to the fullest in Santa Monica. She loves to dive deep into the community and explore the many facets that make the city unique and interesting. Contact Brooke with thoughts, ideas or suggestions.
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