Worth getting out of bed for
There are 22 miles of bike path to explore, stretching between Palisades Park and Torrance and passing by some of the Gold Coast's most dramatic beaches – so hit the deck! (Figuratively speaking, of course). There's a bicycle rental place just outside Oceana Beach Club Hotel; otherwise, Perry’s Café has several local outlets, and offers bike and skate hire, bike tours, and skate lessons.
Go for a long walk on the beach (it's right in front of the hotel); go shopping on Third Street Promenade; or stroll down to Santa Monica Pier (see www.santamonicapier.org for more information).
And what’s a trip to Southern California without a surf session? Head over to nearby Venice and rent a board from Mollusk Surfshop - don’t forget to pick up a totally radical T-shirt from the GONZ! label produced by local Malibu sharks, brothers Chad and Trace Marshall (their motto: 'Radness! Badness! All-round gladness!').
Fritto Misto at 601 Colorado Avenue ((+1 310 458 2829) is a unique, local, family-run Italian restaurant at 5th and Colorado, where the pasta is made on-site daily. BYO corkage fee is only $2, and there are loads of wines available by the glass, so it’s great value for money; there’s plenty of choice for vegetarians, too. Boa Steakhouse (+1 310 899 4466) at the Grafton Hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard is a contemporary steakhouse with a buzzy ambiance. And of course there’s the excellent restaurant at the Viceroy Santa Monica, Whist – a delicious-looking space with plates on walls as well as tables. We loved the prime Angus ribeye for two, served with garlic-sautéed shrimp, sweet potato fries, asparagus and truffle béarnaise. Have a few drinks before dinner at the hotel’s trendy cocktail lounge, The Cameo Bar.
A bit further away, in Venice, we like Baby Blues BBQ at 444 Lincoln Boulevard, almost as much for its cool Johnny Cash-enhanced website (www.babybluesvenice.com) as for its down-home, honest-to-goodness, finger-licking’ grills. Wash all that mighty meat down with a few Arrogant Bastard Ales (or Buds, if you can’t bring yourself to order that).
Cool as you like, Father’s Office at 1018 Montana Avenue (+1 310 736 2224; www.fathersoffice.com) is the closest thing to a European gastropub you’ll find in LA, and has more than 150 different beers behind the bar, as well as juicy juicy burgers and yam fries by the basketful.
Popular lunchtime hangout 17th Street Café at 1610 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (+1 310 453 2771) features light and tasty Euro-Cal cuisine, floor-to-ceiling windows and rotating art shows – plus the best Gaspacho soup in town.