This week's Smart Deal is focused exclusively on a destination, and that destination is Santa Monica, California (tel. 800/544-1319; www.santamonica.com) which is running a promotion called Sun, Sea, Save. If you reserve two nights, you will receive the third night free at 25 hotels ranging from recognizable brands such as Best Western and Comfort Inn to luxury and beachfront properties. Restrictions and blackout dates vary depending on the hotel; some of the rates are valid for Thursday-Saturday arrivals, such as the Ambrose, but the rate includes an organic Continental breakfast. Some of the properties are running the promotion off and on (but mostly on) through the end of the year -- in other cases, such as the Days Inn, it is only available through June 15 or June 30 at the vibrantly hued Hotel Oceana. The prices range from $90 for properties along Santa Monica Boulevard to as much as $400 for full service properties along the beach and Ocean Avenue.
Accommodations, however, are only part of the promotion. Other things are tossed in there, too, such as two vouchers for you to enjoy a free ride on the Santa Monica famous carousel, free bike rental from Perry's Cafe, and a free ride on Pacific Park's solar-powered Ferris Wheel. You will also receive two of the Big Blue Bus day passes. You will also receive a list of 25 free things to do while you are there, such as going to the beach, walking on the Pier, which celebrates its 100th anniversary, visit the Third Street Promenade, catch a drive-in movie, shop at one of three farmer's markets, and more. Some festivities in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Santa Monica pier, which has been featured in the movie Forrest Gump and just about every television show based in L.A.. A large fireworks display will take place during the Centennial Week, September 6-9, which also includes other celebratory measures including the return of Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, the opening of the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, the Museum of Flying.