a VirtualTourist member
We are traveling to Santa Monica for X-mas with our 11 and 12 year old sons. We reserved a room at Shutters on the Beach. First, is it safe for the boys to go to the pier on there own if they want? Any suggestions on activities. We were thinking of renting a car. Possibly visiting Universal Studios and Venice Beach.
While I have never stayed there myself Shutters is on Pico Boulevard a very nice hotel with a great location right across from the pier and the roller coaster. I would recommend going with your sons to the pier the first time or two to make sure that you feel safe before leaving them on their own. As for activities in Santa Monica. The new gigantic ferris wheel at Pacific Park is the only solar powered ferris wheel in the world. I would definitely go the 3rd Street Promenade in the evening for the street performers. There will also be several nativity scenes and Xmas decorations set up along Ocean Avenue to see as you walk by. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is also worth a look inside. It's nothing spectacular but is worth a half hour.
Venice Beach is worth a visit. Would recommend that you check some of the VT pages on Santa Monica and Venice in the area for some good ideas.
Steve as usual has great suggestions. If you're not used to driving in LA, keep in mind the traffic from Santa Monica to Universal Studios can be quite hectic especially at this time of year. A bit further down the road (another hour) is Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland, and a host of other venues that the boys might enjoy as well.
Magic Mountain 40 min. N on 405. Also recommend Peterson Automobile Museum at 6060 wilsher Blvd. Best Prime Rib at LAWYRIES . Picture on the Pier where Route 66 begins/ends.
I don't really know much about the specific area of your hotel, nor do I know where you are coming from, but will chime in with Steve's comment about going with your sons to see if you will feel comfortable letting the boys go on their own.
I also don't know how competent your sons are to recognize dangerous situations or how well behaved they might be, so my comment is not about them.
I would not feel comfortable letting any 11 and 12 year olds hang out around the beach on their own, at all.
This is not a cozy neighborhood area were everyone knows everyone else and would watch out for your boys if you weren't there. This is a world class tourist area and two little boys could easily get lost in the crowd in the sense that if they ran into any sort of trouble there would most likely be no one observant enough to help them if you weren't there to do it yourself.
Not too far down the road in Long Beach is the Long Beach Aquarium (wonderful) and the Queen Mary--bet your guys would enjoy the "Haunted Encounters" tour. The La Brea Tar Pits in LA are unique and would also be interesting for your kids. If you are here on Jan 1st you should definitely do the Rose Parade. Perhaps a whale-watching cruise out of Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach as well.
FYI, the Rose Parade is January 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM and not on the Sunday, January 1.
Oh I've been there recently also with a family. And we rented-a-car and visited Vence Beach, Newport beach, Laguna Beach, Disneyland and Universal studios. It was great and I recommend you all this places.