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Looking for trendy? Try SoCal's Santa Monica
By CARY ORDWAY
If you're looking for cool factor on your next California getaway, it would be hard to beat Santa Monica, a playground for L.A. TV and movie people that is all neatly compressed into 8.3 miles strategically bordered by the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

The words "trendy" and "hip" seem to pop up a lot in the descriptions of the some 400 restaurants packed into this little piece of real estate. Throw in a few art galleries, some luxury hotels and - oh yes - celebrities, and you have the makings of an eye-popping diversion from your everyday hometown.

Our visit to Santa Monica reminded us of why we moved to California. The weather was one of those clear-as-a-bell L.A. days that do come around more often than you might think, the haze having been efficiently removed by some winds and moisture the day before we arrived. It was reminiscent of a trip years ago we took from the soggy Pacific Northwest to Los Angeles that introduced us to what bright sunshine was all about. We couldn't wait to return and eventually relocated to Southern California to get our regular dose of California sun.

Such weather shows off Santa Monica as it was meant to be. The views from Palisades Park are breathtaking and take in not only the expansive beaches but such distant features as Malibu on the north and even Catalina Island to the southwest. It's no wonder that half of L.A. seems to be down here jogging or walking. Wide, tree-lined and well-landscaped Ocean Avenue stretches along the coastline offering about as pretty a downtown street as you'll see considering this is all modern office buildings and not historic mansions.
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