Apparently, you can go from the valley to the mountains then to the beach in just a matter of hours in L.A. Part 3 of the epic mini trip from the long weekend is here.
I typically try to avoid the Santa Monica beach as it is way overrated, super-touristy, and has some of the dirtiest beaches I have seen in this city. So, I'm not sure what compelled me to make a trip over here, other than the fact that it is the geographically closest beach to my house.
If you like the shopping/amusement park/beach combination, then perhaps this is the beach for you. However, don't plan on taking a dip in the ocean.