sorry for my late response, i haven't been on this page in a few days. yes, santa monica is a great place to stay. it's a little far if you wanted to do all the touristy stuff like go to hollywood, see grauman's chinese, and all. however, all that can be a little kitschy. yes, danielle7 made some great recommendations. father's office has really good burgers along w/ good beer. the "gay scene" is inland more in west hollywood. public transportation here in la is pretty awful. getting around can be trying and expensive. if you want relaxing, then santa monica is a great choice. yes, message me on the dates you'll be in town and i would love to meet up with you and danielle7. cheers!