Romance by the sea

You just might fall in love with Santa Monica Canyon

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Despite the residents' high per capita income, this enclave is actually representative of a variety of social sectors ― from movers and shakers to beach bums. At Santa Monica State Beach (west of Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310/458-8974), easily accessible via an underground tunnel, visitors can jump on the bike path or watch professional volleyball players practice.

At night, Marix Playa (118 Entrada; 310/459-8596) has a hopping bar scene, as does the Friendship (112 W. Channel; 310/454-6024), a gay bar. It sports a jaunty, nautical exterior and sponsors an entertaining karaoke night every Tuesday.

When not eating, singing, or soaking up the sun, visitors can wander the neighborhood, shopping at Canyon Beachwear (106 Entrada; 310/459-5070) or visiting the Psychic by the Sea (by appointment only; from $45 per session; 107 W. Channel; 310/573-7703). Perhaps if I'd stopped by the latter after that first date, the psychic would have predicted my love affair with the canyon would last far longer than the one with the man. And maybe that's not so bad.

Canyoneering

Santa Monica Canyon's main street, W. Channel Rd., runs north from Pacific Coast Hwy. (State 1). For general information, contact Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau www.santamonica.com or 800/544-5319. 

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