Incorporated in 1886, Santa Monica is the quintessential urban beach community, blending the appeal of a coastal getaway with the sophistication of an urban destination. Centered on three miles of wide, white sandy beaches, the city lies a short drive from downtown Los Angeles and less than an hour from virtually every major visitor destination in Southern California. Situated in a walkable 8.3 square miles, it boasts one of the nation's most respected public transportation systems, making every area of town easily accessible without a vehicle.
Some three million visitors a year flock to enjoy the ocean breezes, spectacular coastline views, attractions, restaurants, rides, games and shops of the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, a National Historical Landmark dating back almost a century. It borders the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, filled with a wide variety of coastal Mediterranean-climate plants and wildlife.
Santa Monica boasts an array of world-class restaurants and first-rate shopping, from the major downtown retail and entertainment center, Third Street Promenade, to the boutiques of trendy Montana Avenue. The city also nurtures a thriving cultural scene highlighted by Bergamot Station, a transformed rail station that houses a collection of art galleries.
While the northern part of the city has always been affluent, Santa Monica's increasingly upscale flavor has extended to the southern Ocean Park neighborhood as well, a growing favorite of residents who work in the entertainment industry.