Many images are conjured up when one hears "LA". Images of movie stars, perfect weather, and the beach are all part of that ideal. It is hard to deny that California's are beach goers, but unlike many places that I've visited there is a different feel that surrounds the beaches of So. Cal. I'm not trying to deny that LA doesn't have its fair share of beach loving tourists, but more often than not the beaches are packed with locals out for the day. This is not only reflected in the people that are there, but also in the shops and entertainment that populate the beach.
Walk in any direction long enough and the beach changes. My friend, Ashely, came to visit and was a little taken back when I told her that I couldn't pick one beach to go to so we would do three. I parked my car in a residential area to avoid all parking fees and headed to Santa Monica. Paths line the beach each with an areas for pedestrians and another area those with wheels (bikes, skates, unicycles, etc...). We were walking to Venice. Ashley looked at me like I was nuts, but I quickly explained to her that if you walk three miles in any direction you would hit three different beaches. Not so confident that I wasn't tricking her she sciently followed. The more trendy areas of Santa Monica faded away and quickly turned into the liberal, art infused madness of Venice. Immediately table after table popped up of art, jewelry, and god-knows-what sold by hippies and other people of interest. Acts of every sort dotted the side walks ranging from fortune tellers and knife jugglers to a bushman with a frying pan and a man yelling about the how the free masions ruled the world and he could prove it with the USD. On the opposite side of the street small, tacky tourist shops sell every type of LA, beach related statement that you can find. Although we spend a couple of hours lying on the beach next to the grafitti park watching the boats sailing next to my favorite breakers the real attraction is the people. Ashley and I spent the next couple of hours sitting under a palm tree next to the main drag watching the people who went by and listening to their conversations. My favorite moment that day was happening upon a Muscle Man competition. A pavilion was set up surrounded by photos and the general public snapping away pictures. When I made it through the crowd I saw an elderly gentleman with two older drag queens gushing over him. This was what was drawing the crowd.
When the vendors start to disappear and the unique houses that spot the coast start to appear it means that Marina Del Ray is near. I've never actually made it to the larger shopping area along the beach, but I always prefer to stop, just after the pier to lay out. This is the perfect quiet area. No loud attractions in a mainly residential area is the perfect place for a nap. It's also home to some of my favorite restaurants. Located on Marina del Ray Ave. Is a block of places that are so not worried about how trendy they are that they are ultra hot spots or as I like to put it they are "LA trendy". There is a great mix of Cuban, Italian, LA fusion, and bars that are so wacky that they are the perfect beach places to eat. Ashley walked around in awe. I made her choose where to eat. We picked The Terrace, a bright yellow restaurant covered in butterflies. We really lucked out and got seated right away due to someone missing their reservations. Sitting on the patio is a great place to people watch and see the locals and even some things being filmed as we ate.
Closer to sunset we began our walk back to Santa Monica. I'm not a huge fan of the beach finding it often over crowed therefore impossible to enjoy myself. Ashley and I pretty much ignored the pier and headed off to the third street promenade. This is where the real excitement is. This area is shut off to cars making it a pedestrian paradise and a shopping mecca. Stores like Urban Outfitters, Sopheria, and Apple line the streets with smaller botiques thrown in. In the streets, normally where cars would park, are amazing acts of those who aren't trying to make money as much as they are trying to make it big. Acrobats, singers, dancers, and child performers are everywhere with the occasional Hari Kershnia added into the mix. Not all of the acts are great, but are fun to watch. On the night that I was there I got to watch a group break dancing for god. They were bad and the moves were mainly from the 80's, but they were dedicated non the less. I watched with great amusement until Ashley couldn't take it anymore and pulled me away.