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Hidden Adventures In Santa Monica, Los Angeles

©Sharon Mollerus/Flickr
©Sharon Mollerus/Flickr
Santa Monica is known as the beach town of Los Angeles, where people come for the best food, coffee, and beaches to calm their chaotic nerves. But these hidden spots offer the types of experiences tourists rarely discover.

Skyward Aviation

Located next to the Santa Monica Airport, Skyward Aviation will meet all your dreams of flying by becoming a pilot. With a fantastic learning program and easy-going yet knowledgeable instructors, it’s known throughout Los Angeles that Skyward Aviation is the best location to obtain your pilot’s license, whether it be private or commercial. A bonus to this destination are the views as you learn amidst the backdrop of the coral sunset over the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the lavender hills of Los Angeles on the other. They even offer a special discount for an Introductory Flight lesson that lets you learn what it’s like to fly before taking the big plunge.

Skyward Aviation Airplane Hanger © S. Carson

Scubahaus Scuba Diving and Certification

Whether if it’s for your upcoming trip to Hawaii, to impress the locals, or just that you’ve always wanted to swim with whitetip reef sharks off the coast of Australia, obtaining your Diver’s license (known as PADI-certified) is easier than ever. Scubahaus is an outstanding location that offers diving certification and all your scuba gear needs in Santa Monica that rivals those in San Diego and even Monterey. Its owner, Rocky Stickel, will answer all of your diving needs and questions while providing a warm and friendly demeanor so your dreams of finding Nemo can come true.

Scubahaus, 2501 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, USA +1 310 828 2916

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Scubahaus | © S. Carson

Surfing and Beachgoing

You don’t have to travel down PCH to Huntington Beach if you want to get your surf on. Santa Monica Beach offers the perfect coast to jam out to those Beach Boy songs while spotting eye-candy along the way. North of the Santa Monica Pier, you will find luscious and soft sand that you can walk along at night under a twinkling highway of stars or choose to lotion up and brave the sun during the day. If you decide to surf the magical waters of the Pacific, there are many local certified instructors who will teach you how, or even better, just bump into a local and ask.

Santa Monica Beach © S. Carson

Parasailing over Santa Monica

Recently highlighted by KCAL, parasailing is gaining traction as one of the best activities to do with your bestie or significant other. Take a boat ride on the sapphire waters, strap in, and rise 800 feet in the air, and watch your fears and worries of the workday melt away as sweeping landscapes of land and sea entertain your mind. Marina Del Rey Parasailing offers thrilling views of Santa Monica and its surrounding areas with a dose of fun and a splash of the Pacific on the way back down – if you wanted to conquer the sea and the sky on the same day, then this Los Angeles adventure is for you.

Marina Del Rey Parasailing,13717 Fiji Way, Marina Del Rey, CA, USA, +1 310 306 2222

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Parasailing over the Pacific | © Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Graffiti Art

Painting, art, and imagination are no longer confined within the walls of a museum or the depths of your mind, but are integrated into the daily life of Santa Monica. Graffiti is an art form in which colorful and vibrant murals of creative pathways lurk in alleys, skulls of consciousness erupt on the walls of indie business shops, or deep sea creatures swim against the sides of the SaMo bridges, making the ocean always feel close by. In Santa Monica, there has been a revival where graffiti murals are becoming incorporated into local neighborhoods along fences, mom-and-pop shops, and even cafés. The best finds are the unexpected ones, so start exploring.

Santa Monica Graffiti Art © S. Carson

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market has endless choices of cultural delights and bountiful opportunities of every culinary variety. California is known for its fresh food, but the Farmer’s Market goes a couple steps further, supplying arts, crafts, and face painting for the kiddies, to local coffee and exotic fare for the adults; the market is the best way to spend a day with the entire family to enjoy new sights, smells, and the sound of delicious food cooking only a couple blocks from the beach. Be sure to check out their website as the events and food offered changes every week, you will always find something new and fresh to enjoy.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market © Jordan Fischer/Flickr

Main Street

Everyone usually goes to the ‘Promenade’ for shopping, but they are truly missing out on the local spot that offers the best food, hand-crafted furniture, surf shops (such as renowned ZJ’s Boarding House) and even trinket boutiques your aunt loves to spend hours in. This local hot spot is Main Street Shopping, lined with beautiful Moreton Bay fig trees that make up the urban forest of Santa Monica; they shade your path as you get your shopping on, not to mention the pedestrian-friendly streets that allow ample walking room alongside your fellow consumers. Watch out for the bearded bicyclists, as they can swoop by quite fast.

Main Street, 1900-3100 Block, Main Street, Santa Monica, CA, USA

Santa Monica Mountains

The largest urban national park in the United States is one of the best ways to spend a couple hours hiking the Santa Monica Mountains, where you don’t only overlook the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean, but see Santa Monica and the majority of Los Angeles from unparalleled heights while being in the middle of nature. Whoever said L.A. was just concrete is in for a rude awakening when they are met with the beauty and lush greenery of the Santa Monica Mountains that seemingly rise into the sky. The paths vary from beginner to advanced, with fluctuating elevations depending on which trailhead you choose. The mountains are home to a Mediterranean climate ecosystem, making anytime a great time to hike these mountains that range from the tip of Malibu through to the edges of Studio City.

Santa Monica Mountains, 26876 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA, USA, +1 805 370 2301

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Santa Monica Mountains | © S. Carson

Ocean Park Ranch Trail Riding

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Horse Trail Riding
Horse Trail Riding | © Skeeze/Pixabay
If you’ve ever wanted to ride horses and feel like you are far away from city life, love Black Beauty, or are obsessed with the era of Jane Austen, then Ocean Park Ranch is the answer. With private and affordable lessons, they offer various trails and ranges to choose from and will accommodate your decision when you book. An indie company, you’ll feel a thrill of exploration as you get to choose what trails you want to ride on, from vast valleys with rich foliage to desert expanses. Experts and beginners are both welcomed, as they will even suit your capabilities to their horses who are familiar with either type of rider.
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Free Little Library

Sometimes you just need a good book from your favorite author and a couple hours away from the world to feel rejuvenated. Free Little Libraries are miniature libraries that can be found on the corners of Santa Monica and are popping up all over the world in literature-loving neighborhoods. They are an answer to a book lover’s prayers, as they offer everyone the ability to borrow a book and possibly donate one in turn, or just return the one you ‘rent,’ mirroring your local library. Some little libraries even have benches next to them to encourage the reader to sit down, take a moment, and absorb the story.

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