Palm Trees and Pacific Dreams: A Day in the Life on Ocean Avenue

Palm Trees and Pacific Dreams: A Day in the Life on Ocean Avenue

Wood sign marking the entrance to Palisades Park.

Sign marking the entrance to Palisades Park.

For the millions of people over the decades that have gotten their kicks traveling the entire length of Route 66, what they end up discovering upon reaching its western terminus is the bluffs of Palisades Park and its sweeping vistas of the Santa Monica Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

pathways through the park overlooking the ocean.

Originally dedicated to the city of Santa Monica in 1892, today the park is a 1.6 miles long swath of lush landscape comprised of mature eucalyptus, fig, cyprus, a wide variety of palms, and many other types of trees. In many sections of the park, the trees’ canopy is quite dense, providing total shade.

People exercising and relaxing in the park.

Wending their way through this veritable forest are multiple paths with plenty of places to rest along the way, whether it be upon benches or sprawled out on the spacious grassy areas.

Long shadows cast upon the park's grassy areas.

On any given hour of any given day, you will see joggers, walkers, people with their children, their pets, yoga classes, musicians, people reading books, smelling the roses in the rose garden, or just taking a snooze on the grass.

Tall palms line a path filled with pedestrians.

When considering that this landmark park draws millions of visitors from around the world every year, not to mention its daily use by locals, it’s a little surprising how well its grassy lawns seem to thrive.

View of the Pacific Coast Highway, ocean, beach, and mountains.

For the entire length of the park one can stand at the parapet along the park’s western edge and take in the spectacular views of the beach, ocean and mountains.  For those that want to go swimming or ride their bike along the beach bike path, there are four pedestrian bridges (not counting the pier) that cross the Pacific Coast Highway down to the beach.

View of Santa Monica beach, bike path, and ocean.

As one might surmise by the dearth of sunbathers on the beach, this photo was taken in the winter. However, you can be sure to find cyclists and pedestrians along the paved path throughout the year.

Apartments, hotels, and condos along Ocean Ave.

Flanking the length of Ocean Ave opposite the park are condo and apartment buildings, primarily on the northern end – some of which are architecturally significant and/or historic monuments. And the southern end is more of a commercial hub, with a mix of fine hotels and restaurants.  Let’s take a look at some of them…

Oceanaire condominium tower by architect A. Quicy Jones.

From the sleek lines of the condo building rising up behind this beautiful Cuban Royal palm, one might think it was built within the last decade or so. In actuality, was built in 1963. Designed by A. Quincy Jones, one of the preeminent architects of the mid-century modern movement, the Oceanaire remains as one of the more beautiful residential buildings along the strip 60 years after its construction.

Historic Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica

Shown above is the Shangri-La Hotel, which was built in 1939. Designed by architect William E. Foster in the Streamline Moderne style, it almost looks as if an ocean liner has parked at the corner of Ocean and Arizona Avenues. This year, new owners changed its name to The Beacon, though the sign at the entry remains as an homage to its legacy.

Santa Monica landmark Gussie Moran home.

The Victorian style house shown here is a lovely vestige of an era in Santa Monica when single family homes lined the street. Built in 1887, this beauty is known for being the long-time home of another beauty – tennis champion Gertrude “Gussie” Moran. When it was sold in 1987, the buyer wanted to develop the obviously valuable land. Thankfully, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission was able to block the demolition and eventually obtained a Landmark status for the property.

Historic Art Deco Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica

Someone might gaze upon The Georgian Hotel and draw comparisons to many of the Art Deco buildings for which Miami’s historic district is known, but then be surprised to learn that this iconic west coast hotel pre-dates them by a smidge. Opening in 1933, the ‘First Lady of Santa Monica’ has been a testament to Oceanfront Luxury for 90 years, and has a history that’s a colorful as its façade. In addition to being a hotel, it was known as a speakeasy during prohibition and a retreat for countless celebrities over the years including Charlie Chaplin, Bugsy Siegel, Marilyn Monroe, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The icing on the history cake are claims of it being haunted.

Ivy at the Shore restaurant in Santa Monica

Continuing with the colorful, tropical vibe, but in a much more casual style is Ivy at the Shore. But don’t let the casual aesthetic lead you to assume the food is just your average fare. The restaurant is part of The Ivy collection of restaurants by chef Richard Irving and Interior designer Lynn von Kersting that are scattered around L.A.  You can dine inside, on the street-side patio while people watching, or in the outdoor garden in back.

Blue Plate Oysterette restaurant in Santa Monica.

When I think of a luncheonette, I think of burgers and cheese steaks. What do you call a luncheonette with a focus on oysters and other seafood? Blue Plate Oysterette. The menu is great and the location is ideal.

Shepard Fairey "Pierside" mural.

One of my favorite additions to the Ocean Avenue strip in the past year is the Pierside mural by Shepard Fairey, which adorns a wall of the Pierside Hotel. It was completed in January 2023. According to Fairey, the painting’s inspiration was “… the hippie spirit of the neighborhood, which is welcoming of all types, the natural beauty, ocean air, and the way the Pacific Ocean Park (POP) once it was abandoned, provided a fertile wasteland for surfers and skaters to flourish.”

Santa Monica Pier sign

At the south end of the park is the entry to the Santa Monica Pier, which is major tourist destination of its own. As such, it’s a good place to count on being able to find vendors where you can grab refreshments and listen to street musicians.

Santa Monica pier

There are enough things to see and do on the pier that warrant their own post, but with its proximity to the park, it wouldn’t make sense to not at least include a photo.

Route 66 sign at the visitor information center.

Much like the multitudes that made the jouney all the way across route 66, this sign marking the end of the road appears to be a little travel worn.

Pedestrians in the park with the beach and pier in the distance.

If the Ocean Ave lifestyle appeals to you and you’re curious about its cost, I’ll give you an idea.  A typical 2 bedroom condo will cost between 2 to 4 million dollars, and a 2 BR apartment will likely rent for 4 to 10 thousand dollars per month.  There is a 2 bedroom unit in the Oceanaire building mentioned in this post that’s currently on the market for $3,995,000 and a 2 BR unit in the same building (without an ocean view) recently rented for $10,000 per month.

If you’re interested in learning more about living here and would like to explore some options, feel free to reach out to me.

David Kubiczky, PLG Estates – 323.497.7555 323.497.7555 DRE#01897238

2500 1663 David Kubiczky

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