Some sources claim that Route 66 has had 3 different terminus points. But, today, most travelers look to a specific plaque in the ground and call it the end.
Two warnings when you look for the “ceremonial” end of Route 66:
- You’ve gotta really want to find it.
- DON’T drive any kind of RV in to see it.
Between the crawling traffic and narrow streets, it seemed like we’d been driving through Los Angeles for hours before we could finally see the ocean. We’d had to really keep a sharp eye out for the few scattered historic designation signs along Santa Monica Boulevard, and even the map wasn’t much help. Our GPS took us pretty close, but wasn’t real accurate to the actual spot. Not even the Visitors Booth (closed) in Palisades Park, just above the beach, had any directions. By dumb luck or destiny, we drove straight off Santa Monica into the green belt ahead and happened to park about 100 feet from the designation plaque. Even so, we still managed to walk around it a few times before spotting it.
In 1952 the Highway 66 Associations, Warner Brothers Studios and the Ford Motor Company organized a marketing effort to draw attention to both Route 66 and to the release of the movie “The Will Rogers Story.” The first plaque was destroyed in an auto accident a few years ago but has since been replaced.
Palisades Park serves as an “AHHHH” kind of welcome relief after all the traffic, and a beautiful place to sit and unwind. Understanding how those first depression-era emigrants thought they’d arrived in the Promised Land was easy when we just stood on the bluff and took in the spectacular view. It was worlds apart from the bustling city behind us. From it’s unusually gnarled and twisted trees to the warm ocean breezes and colorful flowers, this is a place you’ll want to spend some time. It’s a good place to stretch your legs on the paved path along its entire mile and a half length.
To our left, we could see Pacific Park located on the Santa Monica Pier. The park is a fun destination for the family and LA’s only free admission park. Millions of visitors each year enjoy all the rides, games and fun you’d expect from one of Southern California’s leading attractions. Pacific Park has it all…a dozen rides, midway games, ocean front specialty food outlets and seaside shopping. Check it out to learn more about what’s available at Pacific Park.
UNIQUE, COLORFUL HOUSES DOT THE BEACH
There was surely an easier way to get there, but, not wanting to negotiate the LA traffic around the park again, we headed down a LOT of steps, across a covered walkway that took us over a small highway and emptied out into a big parking lot. We navigated through a few dozen cars and, finally, made it to the very w-i-d-e, sandy beach to enjoy some fun in the sun and water. I couldn’t wait to stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean. The beach and the park are full of both colorful characters and ordinary families on vacation, and, during the day, at least, we always felt safe.
PLENTY OF BEACH FOR EVERYONE
On the return trip back across the walkway, we noticed two city workers with long handled bolt cutters snipping a couple dozen small padlocks clipped to the side mesh. When I asked him why, he growled something about “those dang kids put ’em here all the time! About once a month the city sends us out to cut ’em off!”
“Do you realize you’re destroying someone’s pledge of ‘forever love’?” I asked. He looked at me with a blank stare. “It’s true,” I told him. “All over Europe, couples put these locks on bridges and in special places like Romeo and Juliette’s window. The bridges in Paris are full of them. Once they’re locked, it’s a symbol that their love is unending and can never be broken. It’s a big tourist attraction.”
He hesitated. “Wow, that’s really something,” he said, elbowing his partner. “Let’s tell our boss that, and maybe they’ll quit sending us out here! I’d like that!”
“Maybe you should tell them they shouldn’t be so unromantic,” I suggested. He just laughed. Who knows if he ever did, but, while we were there, I heard a couple more kerplunks as yet one more promise of love hit the dirt. There’s probably a life lesson or two here, but we can only hope the poor couples’ promises withstood the city of Santa Monica’s onslaught.
Please check it out when you go and feel free to post here and let us know if the city has stopped forbidding these love pledges. We can only hope.
As one of the countries most expensive cities to visit, finding budget friendly activities can be tough. But if you’d like to take in more sights of the broader LA area, just know that you do have many affordable options. Go to 100 Free Things to do in LA. I sure wouldn’t want to live there, but it can be a fun place to visit…if you don’t mind the traffic.