A Pico Boulevard Story: From Santa Monica to Los Angeles
Los Angeles is rich in history. Pico Boulevard is a perfect example of a unique, vibrant L.A. street that has a wealth of stories and personality. Named after the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico, this iconic Los Angeles street is home to tons of restaurants, landmarks, neighborhoods, and more. Here’s some highlights about this quintessential piece of the California culture.
The Connection Between Santa Monica & LA
Pico Boulevard is a street that runs about 15 miles. It starts near the beach in Santa Monica and runs into downtown Los Angeles. Along the way, Pico runs through some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the area. As you travel from west to east, you’ll pass through neighborhoods that are predominantly Persian, Japanese, Jewish, African American, Latino, Korean, Central American, Mexican, and more. Neighborhoods like Sawtelle, Cheviot Hills, South Robertson, and Koreatown all provide the opportunity to sample the foods and cultures of many different people. To help you get around, Pico is served by two major bus lines, the Metro Local and Santa Monica Local. Check online to determine the best route for your adventures.
Historic Landmarks Along Pico Blvd.
As you traverse Pico Boulevard, you’ll encounter many iconic landmarks and buildings. Starting on the west end of the boulevard, you’ll find Santa Monica State Beach. This beach is perfect for families and includes a picnic area, volleyball courts, and a path for biking and running. Another essential spot is the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, which is the final resting place for numerous celebrities. Famous residents of Woodlawn include Glenn Ford, Irene Ryan, Hal Smith, Doug McLure, and Sally Ride. If you’re looking to shop, stop by the Westside Pavilion, a three-story mall with close to 150 stores. The Rancho Park Golf Course and Cheviot Hills Park and Recreation Center are great places to get outside and try your hand at a variety of fun activities. Every movie buff should pay a visit to Fox Studios to take a tour and learn more about the silver screen. To learn more about other cultures and social justice issues, a visit to the Simon Wisenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance is a must. The Byzantine-Latino Quarter, historically a Greek neighborhood that is now mostly Latino, is another great place to experience different cultures. No trip down Pico would be complete without checking out the fashion district, a center for design and distribution of clothing, accessories, and textiles.
Get Your Grub On While Riding Pico Blvd.
After a few hours of exploring Pico Boulevard, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Lucky for you, there is no shortage of restaurants.In the early 1980s, Johnathon Gold, who would later become a food critic for the LA Times, began a mission to eat at all the restaurants on Pico. Anyone familiar with the area will quickly realize that Gold’s undertaking was a massive one, due to the shear number of restaurants and the tendency for restaurants to turnover quickly. In fact, Gold never reached his goal, but you can still take some inspiration from him and sample the vast array of cuisines. In fact, Gold published a list of his 10 favorite Pico restaurants, some of which include El Parian, La 27th, Dino’s Burgers, Texis, and Ham Ji Park. Another option, Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles, is a classic soul food spot that has been around since 1976. In the Santa Monica area, the Brixton is the perfect gastropub for any beer aficionado. After you’ve filled up on dinner, check out Sweet Rose Creamery for handmade ice cream.
Pop Culture & Hollywood References
Pico Boulevard has made some appearances in classic movies and pop culture. The band Massive Attack filmed part of the music video for “Unfinished Sympathy” here in the early 1990s. Similarly, Fatlip can be seen walking along Pico in the music video for “What’s Up Fatlip?” Pico is also mentioned in songs by Lana Del Rey, Kool Keith, and Margaret Becker. If you’re interested in poetry, check out the poem “Hot” by Charles Bukowski, in which he mentions driving along Pico in a mail truck. Many of your favorite movies have filmed scenes on Pico, too. For instance, in The Terminator, a scene featuring a shootout was filmed on Pico. Rae’s Restaurant, a classic Pico locale, was used to film scenes for True Romance, Bowfinger, and Lords of Dogtown. A shot of the Westside Pavilion mall was also used in the classic California movie Clueless.
Pico Boulevard is a classic LA street that exemplifies everything that people love about L.A. culture. Diverse neighborhoods, great food, and lots of Hollywood trivia all make Pico a great place to explore for the day. Before you take off on Pico Boulevard in your classic or new BMW, be sure to stop by the HAUS Independent Mini Cooper & BMW Repair to make sure your ride is in top shape for your travels.