Hollywood's First Hidden Getaway - Atlas Obscura

Santa Monica, California

Hollywood's First Hidden Getaway

Discover Santa Monica's scandalous past during a beachfront tour of the Gold Coast.

In the 1920s and '30s, Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica was one of America's most exclusive and fabled streets.

Dubbed by various wags "the American Riviera," "Rolls Royce Row," and the "Gold Coast," this low stretch of oceanfront below the craggy Palisades featured 30 or so eclectically styled summer homes. Many of these "cottages" were designed by California's most noted architects: Richard Neutra, Wallace Neff, Julia Morgan, John Byers, Paul Williams, and Webber and Spaulding.

But the reason for this neighborhood's international fame had nothing to do with its innovative architecture and everything to do with its residents, who included the most powerful men and women in the movie business. Stars like Cary Grant, Mae West, Peter Lawford, Orson Welles, Harold Lloyd, David Niven, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, and Anita Loos frolicked in the surf after long days at the studio. Most famous of all was Marion Davies' gargantuan "Beach House," where epic, star-studded parties lasted all day and night.

Join Atlas Obscura Society Los Angeles field agent and writer Hadley Meares as we take a beachfront walking tour of the Gold Coast. We will view the exteriors of the remaining homes of heavyweights like Mary Pickford and Norma Talmadge, and recount tales from the storied coast's scandalous past. 


  • This will be a walking tour on the beach. Dress appropriately.
  • Parking: There is a pay lot at Annenberg Community Beach House at 415 Pacific Coast Highway (not included in ticket price).
  • This event is weather dependent. If we are expecting significant rain on this date, we will cancel the event. Tickets will be refunded or transferred to a rescheduled date, depending on your availability.
  • A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Marion Davies Guest House.


Contact Hadley Meares at hadley@atlasobscura.com.

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.