TravelFIT: Santa Monica, California

By Melanie Nayer

What’s better for a single woman’s soul than some good solid beach time? Some good solid beach time coupled with a few spa treatments and some amazing cuisine! Visit Santa Monica, California, the first step in the journey with my truebalance 850s.

I boarded my Virgin America flight from Boston to Los Angeles and settled into my  seat for my evening flight. As the flight was at the end of the day I was clearly ready for dinner, but airport food often has a way of going stale in my mouth (and draining my bank account). However, today more airlines are offering in-flight food options and even at a fee, they are worth the cost and often come in at half the calories of the junk food you’re likely to find in the airport. My dinner: a tomato salad, vegetarian lasagna and a glass of red wine (it was the end of my day, after all). The cuisine was part of the airline’s first-class service, but having flown Virgin many times in the past I can attest to the freshness of the food in the main cabin. The hummus and vegetable plate is divine and if you want something a little more indulgent, you can’t go wrong with the cheese platter. Both items sell for under $10 on board, and are big enough to share, if you’re so inclined.

I arrived Santa Monica late-night, checked into The Hotel Casa del Mar, and carried myself up to my room on the 7th floor. After one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long while, I jumped out of the bed the next morning, eager to test out my new shoes. Surprisingly, these guys were very light! I expected toning shoes to be big and bulky but I was pleased with the weight and design. It’s not always easy to pack tennis shoes in your carry-on, but these shoes squished well between my clothes and still retained their shape when I removed them from my suitcase. The true test was still to come…

I’m a stickler for tennis shoes. Having been a ballet dancer for almost 15 years, I have arches in my feet that would make most cobblers crazy, and bad knees and ankles to round things off. Tennis shoes for me need to have supreme stability, support my arches and protect my ankles from rolling inward when I run or walk. I can usually tell within a few hours if a shoe is going to work, or if I’m going to limp home with excruciating plan in my hips. At 7 a.m. I knew I had a long day ahead of me, and I said a silent prayer that these shoes would hold up.

The hotel is perfectly situated on the beach and is two steps from bike trails, running paths and sand volleyball courts. For the morning runners (like me) this location can’t be beat. Knowing I had a full day of exercise ahead of me, I opted for a walk instead of a run and made my way to Le Pain Quotidien, a french pastry shop and restaurant in Downtown Santa Monica. The walk was about a quarter of a mile from the hotel and the shoes, while light and airy, provided amazing support on my ankles.

The patisserie is located near Third Street Promenade and within walking distance to many of the hotels on Ocean Avenue. After a fabulous meal consisting of an egg white and avocado omelette, a side of wheat bread and a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice, I was ready for my first real ‘activity’ of the day: biking.

Pedal or Not, a local Santa Monica bike tour company, offers guided tours of Santa Monica on (you guessed it) bikes. But these bikes offer something a little different – a battery pack. You can pedal, or not, your way around downtown Santa Monica and see just about everything in a three-hour time slot. I started off pedaling and put my shoes to the test – thankfully, Santa Monica is a pretty flat city! About an hour in, I turned the throttle and let the battery pack take charge. It was glorious!

The electric bike concept is the perfect solution for those who don’t like long bike rides, but want to see the city in a unique way. Pedal as long as you want, then let the bike take over and you just steer. The battery lasts for about 23 miles, so it’s conceivable that you can be lazy throughout the entire 3-hour tour. I’m pleased to report I only used the battery pack toward the end of the ride.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around downtown Santa Monica, admiring the architecture and taking a stroll down Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier. By the time I headed back to the hotel it was nearly 4 p.m. and I was seven hours into my day. My shoes, legs, and limbs felt great – I had no pain and my knees and ankles were still their rightful place.

The next day, however, was a bit different. Stay tuned to find out…

Want to be part of the TravelFIT challenge and try for a chance to win your own pair of New Balance truebalance 850 and a travel gift bag from Passport Boutique? Click here for more info.

*Flights and accommodations were provided by Virgin America and The Hotel Casa del Mar; tours were provided by the Downtown Santa Monica Visitors Buruea. All opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.

Stay up to date with the TravelFIT Challenge:
TravelFIT Challenge: What Drives Your Travel & Fitness Passion?
Week 1: TravelFIT: Santa Monica
Week 2: TravelFIT: What Happens When You Don’t Stretch
Week 3: TravelFIT: Berry Picking in Boston