Palisades Park gazebo at sunset.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Route 66, America’s most romanticized byway, formerly ended at this gorgeous cliffside park perched dramatically on the edge of the continent. Stretching 1.5 miles north from the pier, this palm-dotted greenway sees a mix of resident homeless people, joggers and tourists taking in the ocean and pier views. Sunsets are priceless.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Monica attractions

1. Santa Monica State Beach

0.38 MILES

There are endless ways to enjoy this 3.5-mile stretch of sand, running from Venice Beach in the south to Will Rogers State Beach in the north. Sunbathing…

2. Santa Monica Pier Carousel

0.69 MILES

A National Historic Landmark at the beginning of the pier, the 1916 Hippodrome building housing the carousel appeared in the movie The Sting. The 44…

3. Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

0.71 MILES

Peer under the pier – just below the carousel – for this small aquarium. Kid-friendly touch tanks crawl with critters and crustaceans scooped from local…

4. Pacific Park

0.73 MILES

Kids and kids within get their kicks on Santa Monica Pier at this small, classic Americana amusement park, with a solar-powered Ferris wheel, tame roller…

5. Santa Monica Pier

0.75 MILES

Once the very end of the legendary Route 66 and still the object of a tourist love affair, this much-photographed pier dates back to 1908 and is the city…

6. Tongva Park

0.77 MILES

This meticulously designed green space connects Ocean Ave to the Santa Monica Civic Center area. Well-lit and maintained, there are palms and agave groves…

7. International Chess Park

0.81 MILES

Close by the Original Muscle Beach, the search for the next Bobby Fischer is on at the International Chess Park. There are more than 65 regular-sized…

8. Original Muscle Beach

0.81 MILES

South of Santa Monica Pier is the Original Muscle Beach, where the Southern California exercise craze began in the 1930s and '40s. While it's more…