For many of us who now call Santa Monica home, our path towards becoming a city resident began with a memorable first visit. Indeed, with our iconic beaches and eight neighborhoods that all boast a unique personality, Santa Monica has a myriad of attractions that enchant visitors – sometimes enough to inspire a relocation to the destination.

Do you remember your first visit to Santa Monica? Or if you were lucky enough to be born in Santa Monica, where do you take visiting friends and family? Share the story of your first visit to Santa Monica to be entered to win an Apple iPad mini and a 2-night Santa Monica staycation at one of Santa Monica’s hotels.

During COAST, the city of Santa Monica’s open streets festival on October 1, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism will have an interactive video booth at 2427 Main Street where you can share your story and be entered to win the prizes mentioned above and we’ll also provide you with 50% off Santa Monica merchandise. First visit story entries are also accepted online at

To help get your creative juices flowing, several members of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s Board of Directors recently shared their first visit stories.

For Darlene Evans, former member of the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, it was the call of the ocean that brought her to the city.

“My favorite radio station was KDAY from Santa Monica, one of the few stations I could get in the Valley,” she wrote. “I came from the Midwest in 1976 and lived in San Fernando Valley. I decided I wanted to live in Santa Monica. Once I saw the ocean, I knew it was where I wanted to live. I found an apartment and have never left.”

RoseMary Regalbuto, a longtime resident and former CEO of Meals on Wheels West first visited Santa Monica when she relocated with her young family.

“I moved to Santa Monica in July 1979,” she wrote. “[I was] nine months pregnant and with a three-year old. We were living at a hotel while we were searching for a place to live.”

The promise of sunshine and sea air drew Marketing professional Albin Gielicz to Santa Monica.

“In 1996, I was living in Moscow, Russia doing a lot of California dreaming,” he wrote. “During my Christmas holiday that year, I shortened my stay at home in Illinois and I brought my little brother to LA for some sunshine. While here, we discovered Santa Monica, where we spent most of our vacation. Two years later, he moved here for good and ten years after that, I finally made it here too. I love living here and can’t imagine ever calling somewhere else home.”

For Paul Leclerc, General Manager at Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica, his journey as a Santa Monica resident began with a career change.

“[I] arrived in May 2000 for a job interview,” he wrote. “I was immediately impressed with the iconic beach, pier and sense of community. I loved it so much that after eight years in Florida, we moved back to Santa Monica in 2011. My favorite day in Santa Monica is riding bikes on the boardwalk, spending time at the beach, and lunch on Ocean or 3rd Street.”

Fueled by that inspiration, be sure to stop by the Santa Monica Travel & Tourism interactive video booth at 2427 Main Street during COAST for your chance to win a fabulous staycation right here at home in Santa Monica!