Photo Of The Day: Santa Monica Pier, Transformed

Santa Monica Pier at night
HarshLight, Flickr

Our friends at AOL Travel just published the latest installment of their Best Beach Cruiser Rides, and it focuses on an 8½-mile journey from Santa Monica to Venice Beach in California. The Santa Monica Pier offers a pretty, scenic view of the Pacific Ocean during the day. But at night? The setting sun combines with bright paint schemes and flashy neon lights to create a feast for the eyes.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

5 U.S. Beaches You Can Get to Without a Car

Beaches with a car - Chicago's Oak Street Beach
Flickr, Tom Gill

Summer may be winding down, but there are still a few weekends left to spend at the beach. Rather than sit in traffic or rent an expensive car, you can ride public transportation to many beaches in the U.S. Seasonal routes are especially likely to be popular, so go early and pack light.

Boston – CapeFLYER train to Cape Cod
Reintroduced this summer, the CapeFLYER train goes every weekend from Boston out to Hyannis, connecting to ferries for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and buses up and down Cape Cod. Fares are from $18 from South Station, with a few bucks’ savings if you buy round trip. You can bring a bike, get concessions onboard and get free Wi-Fi. The train will run through Columbus Day, October 14.

Chicago – El train to Oak Street Beach
Not everyone thinks of this city smack in the midwest as a beach town, but thanks to Lake Michigan, there are more beaches around Chicago than Bermuda. There are many to choose from, but Oak Street Beach is the most central with the most spectacular skyline view. It’s a few blocks from the El train at Clark and Division, though a bus up Lake Shore Drive will get you there closer. Beaches are free and open until Labor Day, but you can enjoy the water views year round. CTA fares are $2.25, with deductions for transit cards.Los Angeles – Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica
While it’s a major car city, there are ways to get to Santa Monica and Venice Beach from downtown Los Angeles without wheels. The Big Blue Bus serves all of Santa Monica and connects to Venice Beach as well. Fares are just $1, with day passes available. LA Metro has rapid buses to Venice Beach, with fares from $1.50. A new light rail line will connect Santa Monica to downtown LA, getting you on the beach even faster.

New York – A train to Far Rockaway
New Yorkers are lucky to have lots of options for sand and swimming, from Brooklyn‘s Brighton Beach to Long Island‘s Jones Beach, and Rockaway Beach in Queens has long been an urban favorite. While it suffered a lot from last year’s superstorm Sandy, it’s back in a big way, with many boardwalk concessions reopened and a new boutique hotel. A $2.50 subway fare gets you there on the A train, and there’s also a weekend-only ferry from downtown Manhattan if you’d like a more scenic (and spendy, at $20 one way) ride.

Washington, D.C. – DC2NY bus to Delaware beaches
While a bit much for a day trip, budget bus company DC2NY offers seasonal shuttles to Delaware‘s Rehoboth (one of Dr. Beach‘s favorites in the country) and Dewey beaches from Washington, as well as Wilmington and New York. The trip takes about 2½ hours, leaving Friday night and weekend mornings through Labor Day. Fares are $39 each way, but you do get Wi-Fi, a power outlet and a bottle of water.

What are your favorite beaches to visit without a car?

California Restaurant Month Kicks Off In January

chez panisseThe land of goat milk, arugula, and honey continues to prosper, and no surprise, given that California’s 81,700+ farms produce nearly half of all domestically-grown crops.

Thus, the third-annual California Restaurant Month kicks off in January, offering up 33 destinations where visitors and locals alike can savor the flavor of the nation’s most cutting-edge culinary state (sorry, New York).

Select California restaurants will offer special dining promotions such as prix-fixe menus, wine pairings, and other treats designed to promote the state as both food and vacation destination. Add-ons to culinary tourism are available, including skiing, surfing and spa visits.

Nine new dining destinations are a part of the 2013 promotion, including Berkeley (above photo is of the legendary Chez Panisse, now in its 40th year), Beverly Hills, Downtown Long Beach and Santa Monica. Established locales include the wine regions of Temecula Valley, and Santa Maria, Monterey, and Santa Ynez Counties, and small-farm epicenters such as Marin and Shasta counties.

[Photo credit: Robert Holmes]

Photo Of The Day: Santa Monica Bicycle

There’s some wonderful technique at work behind Flickr user Ambre’s photo of a cyclist in Santa Monica, California. Ambre is using a special camera called a Lomo, which among other effects, allows the photographer to take four sequential shots on the same frame of film. She’s used this feature to great effect in today’s shot: I love the sense of motion as the bike glides in (and out) of the viewer’s field of view, along with the washed out colors that capture the brightness of a sunny California day. You almost feel as if you were out there on a beach cruiser, gliding along the Pacific coastline.

Taken any great travel photos? Why not add a few to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Ambre]

Shutters on the Beach partners with Kate Spade to offer bicycles for guests

One of our biggest loves of late has been hotels offering retro-chic activities for guests, particularly those of the outdoor variety. Which explains our excitement when we saw the image, above, featuring Adeline Adeline bicycles styled by Kate Spade for luxe Santa Monica hotel Shutters on the Beach.

The shiny green limited edition bikes are available to guests with a custom neighborhood bike map, which includes suggested stops like the Dance Doctor for twirling lessons, A+R for the coolest design finds and Bountiful for vintage cake stands in candy colors.

Parked outside the iconic Shutters on the Beach, guests can snag a bike from the hotel’s Activity Center for $10 an hour or $25 a day; guests in Premier and suite categories may utilize them on a complimentary basis.

Check out the adorable video for even more info: