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Everything about Santa Monica sizzles, from hundreds of funky shops and restaurants to more than three miles of white sandy beach, to the multitude of celebrities zipping into the local airport and out on Montana Avenue. The subject of popular songs, movies and television shows ("Baywatch" was one of many filmed here), the city has a vibe like no other. Hollywood haute couture meets surfer chic meets hippie casual, and somehow it all works. A word of advice: ditch the car and walk everywhere. Santa Monica is small and prides itself on being pedestrian- and environmentally friendly. You won't need wheels at the auto-free Third Street Promenade, a stroller's paradise known for its multitude of cinemas, restaurants and street performers. Or at the famous and historic Santa Monica Pier, home to tempting smells from fast-food stalls and the solar-powered, nine-storey high Ferris wheel that has long been a symbol of the city. If your feet start to fail, hop on the electrically powered Tide Shuttle, a bus service that runs along the beach offering great views plus a ride to the artsy Bergamot Station and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, or your next spirited Santa Monica destination.
For some, a tour of the Queen Mary, docked here since its retirement in 1967, evokes waves of nostalgia for the days of the huge ocean liner with its opulent rooms, 1930s deco décor and teakwood decks. Others, particularly the younger set, are entranced by the spine-tingling haunted ship stories on the nighttime ghost tour. But for everyone, a visit to this floating hotel and museum is a must on any trip to Long Beach. At one time a less-than-appealing place to visit, Long Beach has transformed itself into an upscale tourist resort, with many waterfront attractions, including a new, state-of-the-art aquarium with a fabulous shark exhibit, two excellent art museums, charming shops, public golf courses, the annual April Grand Prix international auto race and lots of recreational activities along its eight-mile stretch of beach. Take the kids to the waterfront entertainment complex with rides and live performances or to the farming demonstrations at Rancho Los Alamitos. Feeling romantic? Cruise the canals of Naples (that's right, Naples Island in Long Beach) in a genuine Venetian gondola. One thing is for sure: tensions and stresses dissolve in this laid-back, friendly city.
Discover the best of Southern California culture. Offering the authentic surf lifestyle, coupled with 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline, Huntington Beach can truly be called Surf City USA. Warm weather and year-round sun offer the perfect setting for outdoor activities such as beach bonfires, volleyball by the Pier, biking along the Ocean Strand, stand-up paddle boarding in Huntington Harbour, hiking through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands or strolling down Main Street.
Boardwalk shops on Newport Beach Pier and outdoor mall, Fashion Island, present excellent opportunities to discover the ideal beach wardrobe. Swimming, sunning and boat trips to Catalina Island are on the menu by day, while spectacular sunsets and waterside dining beckon at night.
About an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach has a spectacular clifftop setting above some of the finest beaches in California. Outdoor enthusiasts can snorkel, scuba dive, body-surf, or hike the trails in nearby Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. A centre for artists, there are a number of special events and festivals,such as the Sawdust Art Festival, Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters, Art-A-Fair and Plein Air Painting Invitational. The Laguna Art Museum focuses on California artists. Window shoppers and collectors will enjoy strolling the village’s quaint streets, as well as visiting galleries spotted along Pacific Coast Highway.
Corpus Christi possesses all of the main ingredients of an ideal weekend getaway: the sun, the sea, the sights, plus exhilarating and engaging activities the whole family can enjoy. Spend the day on the beach soaking up the sun or wind surfing, the breezy city's favourite pastime. Visit the Texas State Aquarium to take in encounters with hundreds of animals and explore the new immersive Caribbean Journey experience. Take a tour of The USS Lexington, one of the most famous aircraft carriers in U.S. naval history. Stroll through fabulous flora and fauna at the Botanical Gardens. At the Museum of Science and History, check out the Pinta and Santa Maria, recreations of two of the ships Columbus sailed to the new world. At night, enjoy a succulent seafood dinner at any number of fine restaurants, then head to the historic Harbour Playhouse for delightfully original community theatre and a true taste of what Corpus Christi is all about.