Santa Monica, located along the Pacific coast in western Los Angeles County, is home to about 100,000 people. Named for Saint Monica of Hippo because Spanish explorers first arrived here on her feast day, Santa Monica has been a popular oceanside resort town since the early twentieth century.
Most of Santa Monica's popular places to visit center on the oceanfront, where the historic Santa Monica Pier is home to Pacific Park amusement park, whose 1909 Looff carousel was feature in the film The Sting. Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian mall featuring dining, shopping and entertainment attracts large crowds, particularly on summer weekend evenings.
Trendy restaurant Cinch attracts those who want to see and be seen, while The Lobster cooks up seafood that some say "blows all others out of the water." Those who prefer Ocean Ave Seafood may disagree. The Los Angeles Times gives French-inspired Mélisse three stars for its "grown-up" atmosphere where waiters dress in suits and ties.
Top-rated Santa Monica hotels include The Ambrose Hotel, Hotel Oceana, Holiday Inn and Fairmont Miramar. The Georgian Hotel is a National Trust Historic Hotel, and the Viceroy is a popular boutique hotel with a cosmopolitan ambience. Shutters on the Beach appears on Conde Nast's Gold List, and the Channel Road Inn is the area's top bed and breakfast inn.