WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave., Venice; (310) 452-1111 or (800) 786-7789, http://www.hotelerwin.com. 119 rooms in a lodging that was redone in 2009 by the trendy Joie de Vivre chain. One block from the beach and boardwalk. Rooftop bar. No pool. Double rooms rent for about $179 (winter weekdays) to $359 (summer weekends).
Hostelling International Santa Monica, 1436 2nd St., Santa Monica; (310) 393-9913, http://www.hilosangeles.org. Here are 260 beds (most in dorm rooms with shared bathrooms and six to 10 beds each), a few blocks from the beach in the middle of Santa Monica. Summer rates of about $36-$49 per person in dorms (about $10 less in winter) and about $159 for private rooms.
Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica; (310) 581-5533, http://www.hotelcasadelmar.com. 129 rooms in a restored building that dates to the 1920s. Opened 1999. Brochure rates for double rooms $565-$850. Parking $34 a night.
Shutters on the Beach, 1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 458-0030, http://www.shuttersonthebeach.com. Two buildings holding 198 rooms in New England beach house style, facing the beach. Copies of "The Old Man and the Sea" in every room. Crowded pool deck. Opened 1993. Brochure rates $575-$995 for doubles. Parking $34 a night.
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (866) 563-9792, http://www.santamonicaloewshotel.com. 342 rooms. Most doubles usually $279-$549. Parking $31 a night.
JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot, 1740 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-9700 or (877) MERIGOT, http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/laxlm. 175 rooms. Doubles usually $389-$429, plus $35 a day parking.
Georgian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-9945 or (800) 538-8147, http://www.georgianhotel.com. This is an Art Deco building (1933) with a bold blue facade. Its 84 rooms (226-248 square feet and small bathrooms) include 28 suites. They're done in earth tones, with old-fashioned bold-hued tile work in the small bathrooms. Convenient to pier and promenade. Doubles usually $229-342, with winter discounts as low as $179; more for suites. Parking $23 a night.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 576-7777 or (866) 540-4470, http://www.fairmont.com/santamonica. 300 rooms, two wings. Better views from the 10-story Ocean Tower. More atmosphere and bigger rooms in the older six-story Palisades wing. Also 32 garden bungalows. The hotel's main restaurant, FIG, opened in 2009, emphasizing fresh ingredients. Dinner main dishes $18-$29. Doubles usually $279-$429; more for bungalows. Parking about $37 a night.
Travelodge Santa Monica, 3102 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 450-5766, http://www.travelodgesantamonica.com. 83 basic rooms, free parking and WiFi. Doubles usually $130-$160.
Malibu Beach Inn, 22878 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-6444, http://www.malibubeachinn.com. 46 rooms. Breakfast, lunch and dinner offered at the hotel's Carbon Beach Club restaurant (prime sea and pier views, reservations required for non-guests). Doubles $325-$1,025. Spa, drink and snack service for guests on the beach below.
WHERE TO EAT
Mao's Kitchen, 11512 Pacific Ave., Venice; (310) 581-8305; http://www.maoskitchen.com. "Chinese country cooking" (and enormous portions) in a casual dining room on a lively, gritty block of Venice. Main dishes, $7-$12.
BP Oysterette, 1355 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 576-3474; http://www.blueplatesantamonica.com/bpo/home. Seafood and burgers in a lively space on Ocean Avenue. Opened 2009. Lunch and dinner. Dinner main dishes, $14-$22.
Ye Olde King's Head, 116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 451-1402, http://www.yeoldekingshead.com. Pints, darts, fish and chips have abounded at this pub, restaurant and shop since 1974. Dinner main dishes, $11.95-$22.95.
Cafe Montana, 1534 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 829-3990, http://www.cafemontana.net. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, with glass walls for watching the passing parade. Eclectic menu includes a Lithuanian dumpling starter and pumpkin ravioli pasta. Dinner main dishes, $15.95-$26.
Babalu Bakery & Restaurant, 1002 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-2500, http://www.babalu.info. Lunch and dinner, with breakfast on weekends. A little Mexican, a little Chinese, a little Italian. Dinner main dishes, $16.50-$25.
Rae's, 2901 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 828-7937. Here's a classic little greasy spoon whose building is textbook Googie design, with a long counter and orange booths. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, cash only. Top price is $12.50 for filet mignon, and for $5.50 you get a breakfast of two eggs, two pancakes and bacon.
Upper West, 3321 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 586-1111, http://www.theupperwest.com. Opened in 2010. Offers Modern American cuisine. Big dining room, Dinner daily, lunch on weekdays. Dinner main dishes, $13-$27, happy hours daily.