Los Angeles:
Santa Monica and Venice | 1

Venice Beach

Sunset on the Venice beachfront

You can’t miss the coast. Simply head west on any of the major boulevards until you feel water lapping round your ankles.

Maybe I just imagine it, but there seems to be a palpable sense of exhilaration as you approach the ocean.

If you’re just visiting LA’s coastal resorts, be sure to allow plenty of time for driving around looking for a place to park. It’s a little-known fact that ‘Santa Monica’ translates as ‘City in which it is impossible to find a parking space’.

Shopping, shopping… The Santa Monica Place Mall, Broadway at Third Street, provided the exterior of ‘Ridgemont Mall’ in Amy Heckerling’s 1982 schooldays classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and – confusingly – the interior of the ‘Reseda’ mall where the two cyborgs confront each other in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Third Street Promenade, with its daffy topiary dinosaurs, is featured in Tim Burton’s debut feature, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (it’s where Pee-Wee’s beloved bike is stolen).

Broadway Deli, Santa Monica

Now closed – The Broadway Deli in Santa Monica

The Broadway Deli, 1457 Third Street Promenade, was where a tetchy Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) initially gives Eady (Amy Brenneman) the brush off as he bones up on Stress Fractures in Titanium in Michael Mann’s Heat. After 20 years of business, the much-loved deli closed its doors in 2010. Don’t confuse the deli with the Broadway Bar and Grill, 1460 Third Street, on the opposite corner (which occupies the store used as ‘Trax’, the ‘Illinois’ record shop where Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) worked in Pretty In Pink).

Ye Olde King's Head, Santa Monica

An English pub in Santa Monica – Ye Olde King’s Head

If English beer and a game of darts appeal to you, pop into Ye Olde King’s Head, 116 Santa Monica Boulevard, which you might recognise if you saw villain Bullseye (Colin Farrell) demonstrate the lethal potential of the humble paperclip in Daredevil. It’s been serving up pints to British ex-pats and Anglophiles since 1974, as the celeb photo gallery on their website attests. The ‘shoppe’ next door is the place to stock up on exotic imported delicacies such as HP Sauce, Salad Cream and Baked Beans – and proper tea.

Swingers, Santa Monica

Breakfast after the night before in Knocked Up – Swingers on Broadway

For veggie or vegan options, try Swingers, 802 Broadway at Lincoln Boulevard, though I'd guess that’s not what Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) opts for when he breakfasts here with Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) after their first drunken night together in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up.

Aero Cinema, Montana Avenue, Santa Monica

No sign of Frank the Rabbit? – the Aero Cinema in Santa Monica

You could catch a film at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street, where Chili Palmer (John Travolta) quotes the dialogue as he watches the end of Orson WellesTouch of Evil (a film we’ll be coming back to later in this section). This is notably, too, where Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) watches The Evil Dead, in all-time cult fave Donnie Darko – though I can’t guarantee Frank the Rabbit will make an appearance.

Rae's Restaurant, Santa Monica

Classic retro styling – Rae’s Restaurant

There’s retro style in abundance at Rae’s Restaurant, 2901 Pico Boulevard at 29th Street, the ‘Detroit’ diner where Clarence and Alabama enjoy pie after the Sonny Chiba triple bill in True Romance. By 2004, Rae’s had apparently moved to ‘Frazier’s Bottom’ in West Virginia for romcom Win A Date With Tad Hamilton. It’s almost a surprise to find it actually in Los Angeles, as Jiff Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) reveals that he's the brother of movie star Kit Ramsey (Murphy again) in Hollywood satire Bowfinger, or as the ‘family restaurant’ in which Stacy Peralta (John Robinson) finally gets his team t-shirt in Catherine Hardwicke’s skaterboy epic Lords of Dogtown.

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Visit the locations

  • Ye Olde King’s Head, 116 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (tel: 310.451.1402)
  • Swingers, 802 Broadway at Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (tel: 310.393.9793)
  • Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (tel: 310.260.1528)