Adventure U.S.

Exploring California’s Santa Monica: Silicon Beach

Riding through California’s Santa Monica, nicknamed “Silicon Beach,” almost proves disastrous. I climb on my red electric bike and totter because of its weight. Now I can barely touch the asphalt except on my tiptoes. My friend is already gliding along on her scooter in the heavy Santa Monica, California traffic. This is daunting. I carefully maneuver past an Uber stopped in the bicycle lane and complain.

“Whoa, I think I am going to fall off this bike!”

Kristen suggests we lower my seat and then I hop back on. So much better.

Joys of eBiking

As the light turns green, we follow the lime green bike path toward Venice (which is the next town over). I get to follow the leader as Kristen is the pro. She seems to fly from block to block while I multi-task—watch for car doors opening suddenly on the driver’s side of the car, listen for bikes whizzing up behind with someone yelling “left,” and give plenty of room to cars racing by me.

But the scene around me is astounding in California’s Santa Monica. To my right, the Pacific Ocean seems to roll back toward the horizon for miles. The beach is crowded with the weekend revelers—a large congregation of people wearing white robes, toddlers pushing tricycles, teenagers toting skateboards and so many parents running with babies in jogging strollers.

Warp Speed Travel

The magic of sightseeing by bike—instead of by foot or car—is the experience plays out in 2X or 3X speed. If this were an audiotape, I would be struggling to comprehend the narrator who is talking at warp speed. But from the vantage point of my bike, it all feels like flying in slow motion. I catch only glimpses of faces and forms. All the colors of California’s Santa Monica spread out like a rainbow after a thunderstorm.

My friend teases I brought the sun to Southern California since LA has endured weeks of overcast skies. All I know is that the heatwave broiling folks back home in Washington DC is non-existent in California.

The sapphire blue skies might be lifted from a John Steinbeck novel. It is a bolt of blue silk that is flung wide until it rolls to an end at the horizon. Blue stacked on blue—sky mirrors ocean which mirrors back.

Venice’s Main Street

We ride parallel to the Pacific Ocean so we can enjoy all the activities. But then Kristen signals a left turn by raising her arm and we begin to move inland toward Venice’s Main Street. Now I must really pay attention because I went to gaze at every shop window and outdoor cafe. There is no time to stop so I must mentally “snap” a photo to capture the scene in front of me. I am particularly excited about all the California dogs which I see walking or lounging on sidewalks. And everywhere I see Californians driving with their top down. California’s Santa Monica is Convertible City!

Kristen raises her arm again to signal to make a left turn. I marvel at the scooter that is now a mode of transportation for adults in cities throughout the United States. And by traveling back home on an electric bike and scooter, we are shrinking a long walk to Santa Monica Pier down to a breezy 30-minute ride back to Marina del Rey.

Street Art

Suddenly I see a street mural ahead. I adore street art, such as DC’s U Street corridor.

“Stop please,” I shout.

I brake a little too fast and almost fall off my ebike. But I must take a photo of a white cat painted on a fence. The mural is almost eight feet tall. I ponder all the dogs that have slunk by it hoping down to enrage the feline. It is a magnificent city cat—bold greenish-brown eyes that follow every human or animal passing by its vigilant post.

Feline street art

There are more surprises to come on our bicycle beach tour. Kristen calls out to ask me if I know the work of Frank Gehry.

I can’t understand what she is saying.

Frank Gehry Architecture

Then she points to her left at the Chiat/Day Building, which features an oversized pair of binoculars (field glasses). This is known to locals as his Binoculars Building. It is located at 340 Main Street in Venice, California. I stop my bike and just stare. It is exactly what I would expect to see in Venice—everything here is larger-than-life including street art featuring felines, old-world canals (reminiscent of its Venetian cousin in Italy and a lengthy boardwalk and pier.

Binoculars Building

While I only had 48 hours for my LA weekend, I packed a lot of fun into a little time at the beach. 
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My Favorite Things To Do in Santa Monica

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Take a long morning walk to buy your Cafe Latte at Starbucks in Venice and admire all the street art.

Street murals in Marina del Rey

Walk along the Venetian canals to examine the flower-decked houses and dogs on parade

Venice Canal

Explore an alley growing flowers and bushes that attract and sustain the Monarch butterfly

Monarch Butterfly Waystation

Discover a Mexican piñata that a homeowner set up outside his house as art for the masses

Go to Laguna Beach to see the world-famous PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS

    Pageant of the Masters

Hunt for Route 66 sign on the Santa Monica Pier that marks the end of one of America’s most famous roads

Santa Monica Pier

And you absolutely don’t want to miss the talented skaters at the Venice Beach Skate Park. You could hang around for hours just watching them skate. Check out this video.

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