Underestimating the size of a destination can be quite common, but overestimating it, that’s a little less likely. Except in Santa Monica’s case.

In a Q&A with KARRYON, Santa Monica Tourism’s Trade Manager for Asia Pacific and Latin America said Australian travellers don’t quite realise how compact the city is and how easy it is to get around without a car.

Ahead of his visit to Australia for the Santa Monica Trade Mission starting 12th November, Todd Mitsuhata told us that although the city is smaller than expected, it’s full of activies, sights and restaurants beyond the pier.

Additionally, the biggest misconception Aussies have about Santa Monica is that they need to hire transport to get around when actually, it’s perfectly located to experience greater L.A. car-free.

“With the Metro Expo line, you can be Downtown in under an hour,” he explained. “When in Santa Monica, you can explore by foot, electric scooter and bike. Santa Monica is a compact destination with everything in easy reach!”

Read on for more of our chat with Todd:


Australians love L.A. and Santa Monica is well known in the market, but are Aussies exploring the city beyond the pier?

Image: Matthew LeJune/Unsplash

What many visitors may not realise is that Santa Monica is made up of eight distinct neighbourhoods, so there is much to discover beyond the pier. For those who are into surfing, Main Street is ideal with its variety of local shops not far from broad stretches of waves. Downtown Santa Monica is really bustling, home to Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade, world-famous shopping locations.

With more than 400 restaurants in just 5.5 kilometres, Santa Monica is a foodie paradise. Many restaurants source local ingredients from our four weekly Farmers Market. The Wednesday Farmers Market in Downtown Santa Monica is hailed as one of the best in the country. Taking a morning stroll here is a great way to experience the city like a local.


If so, which areas would you love Aussies to visit more?

Public art abounds in Santa Monica. A stroll through the city, like a personal art walk, reveals creations that range from sculptures and murals to kinetic illuminations.

I’d recommend visitors go beyond the beach to discover some of these exciting works of art which include the signing beach chairs that make musical notes when the wind blows and Santa Monica, a concrete statue of the city’s namesake in Palisades Park. Pico Boulevard, a lively strip with shops and restaurants, also contains a large number of street art murals.


What would the ideal 24 hours for an Australian in the city look like to you?


Flights from Australia to LAX arrive early. The good news is, Santa Monica is just 13 kilometres from the airport, so Aussies can arrive beachside quickly after landing in California. Finding a flat white isn’t difficult with options like Little Ruby, one of four Australian cafes in the city.

After a healthy breakfast, I’d recommend visitors hire a bike and pedal down the Marvin Braude Bike Trail past the original muscle beach to Venice Beach.  Fresh air and exercise do wonders for jet lag. Return to Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier and enjoy a ride on the Pacific Wheel, a solar-powered Ferris Views with unparalleled views of the Pacific.

Head to Santa Monica Place for a bit of shopping and enjoy lunch on the rooftop dining deck. The shops of Third Street Promenade are close by as well. Finish your day as the locals do with a happy sunset hour. Oynx, a rooftop bar atop Hotel Shangri-La has beautiful views of the water.


What are some challenges you think Australian Travel Agents have when selling the city to their clients?

It can often be hotel availability.


What are some tips you have to help them overcome these challenges & make more sales?

Booking outside of the summer months in the United States (June, July and August) will give the best availability and rates.


Have you visited the US city recently?