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Men and women have been searching for an earthly paradise since before they invented the wheel or the written word. There have been countless names for it: Atlantis. The Garden of Eden. El Dorado. Today, we just call it Santa Monica.

With its spectacular beaches and an average of more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Santa Monica certainly fits the bill for heaven-on-earth. But beyond the city’s natural beauty, there are a number of landmarks, like the Pier or the Aero Theater—not to mention the Shore Hotel!—that have sealed SaMo’s status as a global destination. So whether you’re taking the legendary Route 66 to its Western endpoint in the heart of the city or flying into LA County’s oldest operating airfield, take a look at the best attractions Santa Monica has to offer!

Santa Monica Pier

No list of Santa Monica hotspots would be complete without the Pier. More than 100 years old, the Pier is a Southern California icon that sits atop the beach and hangs above the Pacific Ocean. When you visit, you can get your thrills at Pacific Park, an amusement park that includes a state-of-the-art solar-powered ferris wheel, or check out the fascinating aquarium operated by Heal the Bay, which Shore Hotel is a proud sponsor of. One of the most magical attractions is the Camera Obscura, which uses nothing but natural light to project a live view of the beach.

Santa Monica State Beach

We couldn’t call ourselves the Shore Hotel without the help of Santa Monica State Beach, which is located right across the street from us. This stretch of sand and sea runs the entire length of the city, so there’s plenty of beach to enjoy. Plus, if you’re hoping to enjoy an oceanside workout on your vacation, Santa Monica is also home to the original Muscle Beach and is complete with parallel bars, ring swings, and more!

American Cinematheque at the Aero Theater

This theater, which dates back to the 1940s, is a cinephile’s dream. It regularly offers special screenings and shows classic movies as well as contemporary independent films. When you’re tired after a day in the sun, sit back and enjoy a movie, old-Hollywood style!

Palisades Park

You’ll find Palisades Park along the city’s northern coastline. It sits atop gorgeous bluffs and offers stunning views of the ocean. Nature lovers will enjoy the wide variety of trees and other exotic plants on display in the park. There’s also a bevy of public art, from sculptures to Native American totem poles.