7. Mid-CityGood for: A great range of hotels and a chilled out vibe.Don’t let the name of this next neighbourhood put you off. It’s one of the city’s most creative districts, and it’s famous for its diverse range of galleries, including the ones at Bergamot Station, which, as you’ll probably have guessed, was once a railway station. It’s a great place for casual dining but you’ll also find some of the city’s best restaurants, including Mélisse, which was recently awarded two Michelin stars. Once you’ve sampled Mid-City’s delicious cuisine, enjoy a walk along the neighbourhood’s wide, palm-fringed boulevards. For a hotel with great access to this area’s best bits, you can’t beat the Best Western Plus Gateway Hotel Santa Monica, which is just a short walk from Bergamot Station, which has several great perks for guests, including complimentary WiFi . Now see if you can resist Santa Monica… Related5 reasons to pick Santa Monica as your perfect LA baseA stay in Santa Monica, Los Angeles’s soulful beachside city, means that you’ll wake up with the waves and end your day with an oceanfront sunset. Santa Monica’s ideal location (within greater Los Angeles) is perfect for anyone who wants the quintessential Californian beach holiday and be close to all…The best cities for a pre-Christmas shopping spree Planning a Christmas shopping trip? Head to one of these destinations to kill two birds with one stone – you’ll whittle down your present list while enjoying a pre-Christmas break in a beautiful city, too.10 best places to shop in New YorkFrom hipster flea markets to world-famous department stores, find retail heaven with our shopper’s guide to NYC. 2. Pico BoulevardGood for: Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica College, and Virginia Avenue ParkPico Boulevard connects Santa Monica State Beach to downtown Los Angeles, with destinations like the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center to the east. Pico’s restaurants serve up a fantastic range of cuisines, from Korean and Chinese to Indian and Peruvian. If you like your grub straight from source, check out the farmers’ market at Virginia Avenue Park – it’s held every Saturday, from 8am to 1pm. Ice cream aficionados shouldn’t miss Sweet Rose Creamery (826 Pico Boulevard). Flavour-wise, we recommend the heavenly cookies and cream. 3. Wilshire BoulevardGood for: Amazing architecture, independent boutiques and treat-filled patisseriesLocated just south of Montana, Wilshire is one of Santa Monica’s most beautiful neighbourhoods. In 1977 renowned architect Frank Gehry purchased a bungalow here, before adding tilted glass cubes to the property, giving it a tilted, lopsided look – a style known as deconstructivism. The house can be found at 1002 22nd Street, and although it’s now privately owned, you can admire it from the outside. You’ll also find an abundance of beautifully preserved Victorian homes in this neighbourhood, and on Wilshire Blvd, the main artery, there are plenty of independent boutiques to browse. We particularly love the Vanilla Bake Shop and the wonderfully old-fashioned Waverley Books. When it’s time to crash, splash out on a room at the luxurious Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, set in the heart of beautifully landscaped gardens. We’ve got the low-down on where to eat and drink, along with some fantastic hotels for every budget. Read on to discover the beating heart of this beautiful coastal city.Content powered by Santa Monica Travel & Tourism.1. Montana AvenueGood for: Fashionable boutiques, outdoor café culture, independent cinemaMontana Avenue is a laid-back alternative to Rodeo Drive. This tree-lined shopping district is known for its upscale boutiques, hip restaurants and historic movie theatre, Aero, which you’ll find at 1328 Montana Avenue. Just a few miles from Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade, Montana’s ten-block stretch boasts more than 150 places for you to splash your holiday cash. During the day you’ll find stylish locals sipping espressos in chic cafés and browsing the designer boutiques – all of which have a friendly and welcoming local vibe. Supplement your shopping spree with slice of pie from Sweet Lady Jane at 1631 Montana Avenue – if they’re good enough for Oprah then they’re good enough for everyone!Click on any of the images below to find hotels in Santa Monica. 4. Main StreetGood for: Farmers’ markets, galleries and delicious foodDon’t be fooled by the name, because Main Street is actually one of Santa Monica’s most chilled out neighbourhoods – think Sydney’s Manly Beach or Huntington Beach in Orange County. You’ll find several galleries and independent craft stores, including Mindfulnest, which is part-gallery, part-shop. Head here for gorgeous handmade jewelry and unusual gifts. Can’t go for more than a couple of hours without a coffee? Then you’re in luck, because Main Street has Santa Monica’s highest concentration of coffee shops. And you’re in the right place if you’re a fan of exotic cuisine too, because this achingly cool neighbourhood’s restaurants cover all corners of the globe, from delicious ramen at the Jinya Ramen Bar to the sweet and savoury pies at Aussie Pies. 2427 Main Street is where you’ll find the visitor’s centre – head here to pick up maps and find out about the hottest local attractions. If you love your food, why not see how many dishes you’ve ticked off our list of the 10 dishes every gourmand should have tried? 5. Downtown Santa Monica and Third Street PromenadeGood for: Quirky art installations, shopping and street performers.Head east from Santa Monica’s famous pier and you’ll soon arrive in Downtown Santa Monica, which is where the city’s residents eat, drink and play. There’s something for everyone here, but we particularly love the pedestrianised Third Street Promenade, which has all the big name brands, from Apple to Urban Outfitters. There’s a fantastic farmers’ market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and from November you’ll be able to take a few laps of honour on the ice rink. It’s an incredibly colourful area, with dozens of street performers. The latest additions are the colourful, hand-shaped pedestrian crossings painted by local artists. Who knew crossing the road could be so much fun? If you’re planning on spending some time here, a great potential base is the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Santa Monica, which is just a short walk from Third Street Promenade. The super-sized rooms are especially ideal for families. If all that shopping has left you with some knots to iron out, consider spending the night at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is also one of California’s most beautiful hotels, and the spa is legendary. This article was produced in conjunction with and paid for by British Airways and Santa Monica Tourist Board, who also supplied the images.Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map 6. Santa Monica Pier and Ocean AvenueGood for: Beautiful beaches and the historic pier.No visit to Santa Monica would be complete without a pilgrimage to its famous pier, which opened in 1909. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an old fashioned affair; the ferris wheel is solar-powered and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a wildlife-filled paradise which uses the latest technology to teach visitors about California’s marine life. Head to one of the pier’s snack bars to sample some fresh seafood (while trying to not to think about their distant relatives in the nearby aquarium), or to the wonderfully retro Playland Arcade for some vintage fun, before crashing out at Hotel Carmel, where you’ll enjoy wonderful sea views. But make sure you venture beyond the pier, which is located on Ocean Avenue. This famous street stretches from the north of Santa Monica to Pico Boulevard. It runs parallel to some fantastic beaches, and it’s also a great people watching spot. 8. Ocean Park Boulevard and Santa Monica Airport AreaGood for: Museums and art storesHistorically, the best neighbourhoods aren’t necessarily close to the airport but that’s not the case in Santa Monica. Wedged between Pico Boulevard and the southern city limits, Ocean Park is a largely residential area with an artsy vibe. It’s also where you’ll find the Museum of Flying – if you’re an aviation buff, you’ll love the replica of the Wright Flyer. You’ll also find plenty of independent stores, selling everything from upcycled furniture to vintage clothing, and there are plenty of coffee shops for that post retail-caffeine fix.