Santa Monica, California
Facts, Information and trivia
Elevation: 105 ft (32 m). Population 89,736 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Santa Monica, is the westernmost city on Route 66. It is located on southern California's Pacific Ocean coast in western Los Angeles County.
Santa Monica's history
The hills & coast of Santa Monica have been inhabited for over 10,000 years. When Europeans discovered the area in 1542 it was the home to the seafaring Chumash and the Tongva hill people. The latter called their land "Kecheek".
Explorers Portolá and Father Crespi named it Santa Monica in 1769. After Los Angeles was founded in 1781 land granted to settlers. The "Parage de Santa Mónica" became part of two ranches: "San Vicente" owned by Reyes and "Santa Monica" of Vázques.
Mexico inherited California when it won its independence from Spain in 1821. But had to cede it to the US after its defeat in the Mexican American War (1846-48).
By the 1860s, the people of Los Angeles frequented Santa Monica beach to enjoy swimming and dances. A wharf built there shipped tar from the La Brea tar pits.
Col. R. S. Baker established a sheep ranch there in 1872. In 1874 his parner Senator John P. Jones built a railroad from Los Angeles to the town they platted and named Santa Monica. Their mile-long pier was abandoned when the city of Los Angeles chose the better port at San Pedro.
The Name, Santa Monica
The Spanish under Gaspar de Portola explored the area in 1769 and named it Santa Mónica after Saint Agustin's mother.
The town prospered and by 1885 the Santa Monica Hotel was built. The Pacific Electric Railroad linked the coast to L.A. and soon plenty of visitors came to the beaches. Piers were very popular in the early 1900s so the Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909.
Trivia: first flight around the world
In 1922, the Douglas Aircraft Co. (later McDonnell Douglas now part of Boeing) opened in Clover Field (now Santa Monica Airport).
It was from here that four Douglas planes took off in 1924 on the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe.
In 1936, Route 66 was extended from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, ending there, on US 101 Alt.
The 1939 "Guide to the Golden State" written by the WPA described what is now West Hollywod as follows:
"Facing Santa Monica Bay from a high mesa is SANTA MONICA, ... (100 alt., 37,146 pop.), a residential-resort city with a substantial business center, whose summer visitors swell the population figure to more than 100,000. Along the edge of the bluffs for 3 miles stretches green, tree-shaded PALISADES PARK. The half-moon-shaped ocean front, city-owned since 1917, faces a yacht harbor and breakwater."
From 1920 to 1940, Santa Monica Boulevard (US 66) had many auto dealerships and used car lots. Starting in 1956 the Interstate highway system was built, drawing traffic away from Route 66. It was decommissioned in 1964 as a U.S. Highway in Santa Monica.
Where to Lodge in Santa Monica
>> Book your Hotels in Santa Monica
Motels and Hotels close to Santa Monica, California
Heading East.... Hotels & Motels in California...
>> Check out the RV campground near Santa Monica, in Pomona
Weather in Santa Monica
Where is Santa Monica?
Santa Monica's climate is a Subtropical Mediterranean one, with cool ocean breezes.
Expect morning fog from May to early July ("June Gloom" and "May Gray") but it is gone by midday. Foggy days occur during late winter and early summer, with a cooling effect.
Fog moderates temperature swings compared to Los Angeles proper (5 to 10°F, 2-5 °C warmer in winter and cooler in summer).
The winter (Jan) average high is 67°F (19°C) with an average low of 46°F (8°C). During winter the hot dry Santa Ana winds blow.
Santa Monica has about 310 sunny days per year. The average high during summer (Jul) is 80°F (27°C) and the average low is 62°F (17°C). Expect rain from late Oct. to late March, the rest of the year is dry. Average rainfall is around 13 in. (333 mm). It does not snow or freeze in Santa Monica.
There is no risk of Tornados in Santa Monica; More about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Santa Monica
You can reach Santa Monica along old Route 66 or via Interstate 10, 15, 5, 215, 610; US 101 or state higways 110 and 134. All of them are freeways.
Map of Route 66 through Santa Monica California
The map above shows two alignments through Santa Monica, the color key is the following:
Pale Blue: Route 66 into Santa Monica. Here we show it as if it reached the Will Rogers Marker -it does not.
Black: the "real" final part of the road which ends at the junction of Olympic and Lincoln Blvds. Official "Endpoint of Route 66".
Map of Route 66 in Santa Monica, CA
Also check out Santa Monica on our Route 66 Map of California, with the complete alignment and all the towns along it.
Map with the alignment of Route 66 through Santa Monica
Click on this link > > US 66 original alignment in Santa Monica
Click on this link > > US 66 later alignment in Santa Monica
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Santa Monica
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite having long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica (like this one).
Click on the following link for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica is the western endpoint of Route 66.
Sights and Attractions in Santa Monica, California
What to Do, Places to See
The Endpoint of Route 66
Santa Monica and its Route 66 attractions
Santa Monica is the Western terminus of Route 66, and in fact it has three ending points:
- The Western Terminus: the Official Terminus of US 66
- The End of the Trail sign
- The Will Rogers Memorial Plaque.
Visit its famous Santa Monica Pier with its 1941 Santa Monica Pier Sign and see some
vintage motels: Santa Monica Motel, Hotel California,
Dawn Motel - now Chez Jay, the 1960s Wilshire service station and the former Penguin Coffee Shop.
Other Route 66 sights include the 1926 Community Brake & Speedometer Service Inc., and more classic motels: Sea Shore Motel, Ocean Lodge Hotel and the Miller Motor Hotel Apts.
The Western Terminus of Route 66
Route 66 had several starting points in Chicago (read more: Eastern Terminus of Route 66), and also many "ending points" in California:
The many ending points of Route 66
Most believe that Route 66 ends at Santa Monica Pier, and that is a very good example of excellent marketing by a Route 66 souvenir shop located on the pier. The true end point is actually located a few blocks from the pier, on the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard.
Then there is the bronze marker on Santa Monica and Ocean Ave., a memorial to Will Rogers, which states that it is "The End of the Trail". Confusing isn't it?. This is the true story on the western tip of Route 66:
Official Terminus of US 66
Lincoln Blvd. and Olympic Blv., Santa Monica. Map with Directions.
The Western Terminus of Route 66 from 1936 to 1964 was located on the intersection of Lincoln Blvd. with Olympic Blvd.
When the D.O.T. decided to extend Route 66 from downtown Los Angeles (The 1926-1936 Terminus of Route 66 in LA was located on 7th St. and Broadway). US 66 was realigned along Sunset and Santa Monica BlvdS. all the way to Santa Monica. But it did not end on Ocean Ave (which in those days was U.S. Highway 101 Alt), instead it took a left along Lincoln Blvd. and continued up to Olympic Blvd. where, at their intersection, it ended.
The Mother road ended here and never reached Santa Monica Pier or Ocean Ave. It was the end of the road until 1964, when it was decommissioned in this area, moving to the Arizona state line in Topock.
Trivia Terminus on Lincoln & Olympic Blvds.
Olympic Auto Motel
The Olympic Auto Motel in Santa Monica once stood on the corner of Olympic and Lincoln Boulevards. It has long since gone. You can see a vintage postcard here.
Penguin Coffee Shop
Then there is the "Penguin sign" on the SW corner at 1670 Lincoln Blvd (see image).
Until recently there a dental and orthodontics office there in a classic Googie StyleBuilding. It was originally the Penguin Coffee shop which opened in 1959. You can see what it looked like in its heyday and what it looked like (old street view) until it was refurbished and became a restaurant again.
Now it is Mel's Drive In with the penguin atop the neon sign (and its Current appearance). And the iconic building is still there.
The Caltrans map of July 1940 clearly shows U.S. Highway Alt 101 running south along Ocean Ave. (currently California State Highway 1) and then taking a left along Olympic Blvd. for a only 2 blocks, before taking a right southwards along Lincoln Blvd. Here, at the intersection of Olympic Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd was where Route 66 met U.S. 101 Alt. and ended. (U.S. 101 on the other hand ran furhter west, coming from the north along Ventura Blvd and entering downtown Los Angeles, together with U.S. 66 along Sunset Blvd.)
But the U.S. Highway 66 Association campaigned from 1935 to 1950 to have the highway renamed as the Will Rogers Jr. Highway and to move its terminus to Palisades on Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd.
Will Rogers Memorial Plaque
Palisades Park, at Ocean Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. Map showing location.
0.7 miles west of the "real" endpoint of Route 66 is a plaque on the sidewalk, at Palisades Park, on the western side of Ocean Avenue, among the palm trees that reads:
"WILL ROGERS HIGHWAY
Dedicated 1952 to WILL ROGERS
Humorist - World Traveler - Good Neighbor
This Main Street of America
Was the first road he traveled in a career that led him straight to the hearts of his countrymen"
It was placed here in 1952 to promote a film shot by Warner Brothers abouth the life of the famous star ("The Will Rogers Story"). The U.S. 66 Highway Associaton and Ford Motor Company also took part of the promotion and a caravan drove along Route 66 from Saint Louis to Santa Monica placing memorial markers at each state line. They chose this spot -which is not the exact end of Route 66, but, a kind of "state line" (next to the Pacific Ocean) to place the final marker.
Santa Monica Pier "End of the Trail"
Santa Monica Pier Map showing location of sign.
The last marker is 0.3 miles south of the Will Rogers Plaque, and is located on the Santa Monica Pier.
This is a much more recent sign which was erected during the Pier's centennial year, on Veterans Day, 2009. The idea was concevied by the Route 66 Alliance, the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, the non-profit Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. and 66 to Cali Inc. (a Route 66 souvenir company)
They formalized the notion held by the general public that Route 66 actually ended on the Pier, and therefore designated Santa Monica Pier as the West Coast's end to Route 66.
Since the D.O.T. had no more say in the matter (U.S. 66 had been decommissioned long ago), this is a local "official" post-mortem relocation of the western end point of an "officially" defunct highway. Marketing and promotion are the prime movers of this new endpoint.
Touring Santa Monica
A City Tour
This is a 3.6 mi. tour, Map with Directions
So, having covered all three terminus of Route 66 you can visit them and other attractions following this circuit:
Drive from Santa Monica Blvd. south (take a left) along Lincoln Blvd. up to its intersection with Olympic Ave. There is the Official Terminus of US 66, you can also see, to your right, the former Penguin Coffee Shop.
Head straight along Lincoln, and two blocks past Pico Blvd. you will reach a classic motel: Santa Monica Motel.
Santa Monica Motel former Travl-O-Tel
2102 Lincoln Blvd.
This is a Classic Motel on US 101 alt. Not on US 66, which dates back to the 1950s or 60s, and is still operating as a motel.
It originally was the "Travl-O-Tel" as shown in the postcard below, and has not changed much, when you compare it to its current appearance:
Return to Pico, head right. After 0.5 mi. at 14th St, is a 1960's gas station:
Old Wilshire Service Station
Former Wilshire 1960s Gas Station
Pico Blvd. and 14th St., NW corner. Santa Monica (See map with location).
The remains of the canopy of a Wilshire gas station stand at the corner. The design is very 60-ish, with a streamlined space age stye: two steel poles pierce the canopy which is also supported by two steel cables. (See the Wilshire service station on Route 66 in San Bernardino CA and the Needles California Wilshire).
Turn around and head west along Pico Blvd.; at Main Street turn left and half a mile ahead is the Sea Shore Motel:
Sea Shore Motel
2637 Main Street Santa Monica
The vintage postcard from the early 1960s announced: "New modern rooms... exquisitely furnished... 1 1⁄2 block from the beach... Aragon Ball-room... Art & Ruth Rinck... owner-manager". It is still open and operating as a motel. Below are the "then and now" photos:
Along Ocean Avenue - Close to the Beach
Turn left, and then right along Ocean Ave. Head North for 0.7 miles and see some iconic Hotels:Ocean Lodge Hotel, The Dawn Motel (right) and Langdon Motel (left):
Former Langdon Motel (now Hotel California)
1670 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica
The hotel was built in 1948 and is still open. It was built in a hacienda-style, a two floor building with an external staircase in the front (which has been moved) and one on the side.
Now decorated with surf boards and with plenty of greenery:
Across the street, facing the Hotel California are a classic motel and a hotel:
Dawn Motel, today Chez Jay
1657 Ocean Ave.
The Former "Dawn Motel" operated during the 1940s and 50s. The building is still there, but since 1959 it has served as a restaurant, "Chez Jay".
Now a "celebrity hang out, 'dive bar' or 'classy joint'... one of the premier steak and seafood neighborhood restaurants in all of Southern California. Check its website (www.chezjays.com).
The rear part has changed -no more two story building and there are more pants, but the front, with the restaurant is basically the same, down to the inverted "L" shaped neon sign.
Next door is the very 1960s style Ocean Lodge:
Ocean Lodge Hotel
Ocean Lodge Hotel. www.booking.com
1667 Ocean Avenue
This three star hotel was probably related to the neighboring Dawn Motel
Turn left on Colorado Ave. and drive onto the Santa Monica Pier (or park in the areas next to it). Here you can see the End of the Trail sign
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Historic Landmark
Colorado Ave. and Pacific Ocean
This double pier, which is over one hundred years old, is the most recently nominated "Endpoint of Route 66". It contains the "Pacific Park" amusement park and many shops and restaurants. Every fall it is the venue of "The Taste of Santa Monica on the Santa Monica Pier", where visitors sample food and drinks from Santa Monica's restaurants.
The current pier opened in 1909 as the Municipal Pier, it was a 1,600 foot-long wooden pier which also conducted the piping that pumped the city's sewage out to sea.
In 1916 a second pier was built alongside the Muncipal Pier by Charles Looff, it was the "Santa Monica Pleasure Pier" and it included the Hippodrome building built in a California-Byzantine-Moorish-style; it housed many merry-go-rounds and is now houses the 1922 Historic Carousel with 44 hand-carved horses, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Looff Pier was later expanded and now measures 1,080 ft long and 270 ft. wide.
The bridge and entry gate were built during the Depression (1938)
A winter storm on January 27, 1983 razed one third of the pier.
It appears in many films, such as The Sting, Titanic and Forrest Gump among others. In the movie 2012, it can be seen sinking into the ocean.
Santa Monica Pier Sign
Santa Monica Historic Landmark
Santa Monica Pier Sign and arch.
At Colorado Blvd. and Ocean Ave. on the western side of the Viaduct. Map with location.
The Sign spans the two-lane wide viaduct and was built in 1941 in Streamline Moderne style.
It is a stylized metal arch, 35 ft (10.7 m) wide mounted on yellow colored steel poles. Painted in blue with white sans-serif font letters, it reads, in four lines:
✩ YACHT HARBOR ✩
SPORT FISHING ✩ BOATING
The letters are lighted with neon tubes while the words "Santa Monica" are backlit and painted in contrasting blue upon white.
Final part: the Will Rogers Plaque
Continue north again along Ocean Ave. and stop at Santa Monica Boulevard to see the Will Rogers Memorial Plaque, and Palisades Park.
This park stretches out from north to south, along the coast, on the crumbling bluffs that overlook the Pacific. A great place to walk and take in views of the sea. It has a totem pole and camera obscura. Restrooms and picnic areas.
Enjoy the view and the Ocean here, where Route 66 meets the sea.
A Bonus Tour along US 66
See some more landmarks: turn east along Santa Monica Boulevard and one mile ahead is a classic "Garage":
Community Brake & Speedometer Service Inc.
1218 Santa Monica Blvd.
This garage predates the alignment of Route 66 into Santa Monica. It opened in 1926. This 1951 postcard stated: "Since 1926--- brakes, wheel alignments, speedometers, headlights"; it was an official brake and headlight station. Now a used auto lot but relatively unchanged:
Take a left, and a right on Wilshire. 1.5 miles from the old garage is another classic motel:
Miller Motor Hotel Apts.
3112 Wilshire Blvd.
Along the alley, behind the shop's and stores that face the avenue is the old original building of the Miller Motor-Hotel. Below are the current view and a postcard.
And this is the end of your city tour in Santa Monica.
Tours & Itineraries
Visit neighboring Los Angeles.
Westernmost segment of Route 66: End of the Trail
Our Route 66 Map of California shows the different alignments adopted by Route 66 through the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
The colors keys mentioned below are applicable to that map.
The 1926 to 1931 Alignment into Los Angeles is shown in Blue in the map. The 1931 to 1934 Variant is shown in the map in Orange as is the 1935 Alignment through Eagle Rock shown in Green line.
There was also the 1936-1939 Alignment (Later US 66 Alt.), shown in Red in the map.
The later alinments include the 1940 to 1964 Arroyo Seco Parkway to L.A. (Pale Blue).
1936: Route 66 extended from Los Angeles to to Santa Monica
This is the US 66 that reached Santa Monica It is also shown in Pale Blue, west of Los Angeles in the map above for the Hollywood Freeway and Santa Monica Blvd. segments and Brown for the 1936 - 1949 alignment along Sunset Blvd.
Santa Monica Blvd. 1936 - 1964
in Black is the last part of the road, that runs up to the junction of Olympic and Lincoln Blvd. End of Route 66.
West of Centralia Ave., Route 66 enters Santa Monica and originally headed south along Lincoln Blvd. where it took a left and ended on the junction with Olympic Blvd.
> > See previous segment through Los Angeles, W. Hollywood and Beverly Hills (west)
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Comments & Responses
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat