Last Updated on November 19, 2023

Santa Monica is a beachfront city located in western Los Angeles County, California. Santa Monica is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, known for its iconic pier, sandy beaches, and vibrant boardwalk. With its mild climate and scenic views, there are plenty of things to do in Santa Monica that cater to a wide range of interests.

For those seeking outdoor activities, Santa Monica offers a variety of options. Visitors can take a stroll along the Santa Monica Beach, which stretches for 3.5 miles and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The beach is also a popular spot for surfing, paddleboarding, and beach volleyball. In addition, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area provides ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

For those interested in arts and culture, Santa Monica has a thriving arts scene. The city is home to numerous galleries and museums, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Bergamot Station Arts Center. Visitors can also catch a show at the historic Broad Stage or the Edgemar Center for the Arts. With its diverse offerings, Santa Monica has something for everyone to enjoy.

Exploring Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a beautiful coastal city located in Southern California. It is a popular destination for tourists due to its stunning beaches, lively atmosphere, and abundance of activities. Here are some of the best things to do in Santa Monica:

Visit the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring Santa Monica. This iconic landmark is home to an amusement park, an aquarium, and several restaurants and shops. Visitors can enjoy the stunning ocean views, take a ride on the Ferris wheel, or even go fishing.

Stroll Along the Beach

Santa Monica Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in California. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the beach, enjoy a picnic, or simply soak up the sun. The beach is also a popular spot for surfing, swimming, and volleyball.

Explore the Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-only shopping and dining district located in downtown Santa Monica. Visitors can explore the many shops and restaurants, catch a movie at the theater, or simply people-watch.

Visit the Getty Villa

The Getty Villa is a stunning museum located in nearby Los Angeles. The museum is home to a vast collection of ancient art and artifacts, including Greek and Roman sculptures, mosaics, and pottery. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful gardens and grounds.

Take a Hike

Santa Monica is home to several beautiful hiking trails, including the popular Temescal Canyon Trail. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains while getting some exercise.

Overall, Santa Monica is a wonderful destination for anyone looking to explore Southern California. Whether you’re interested in the beach, shopping, or culture, there’s something for everyone in Santa Monica.

Landmarks and Attractions

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Santa Monica. This iconic landmark stretches out over the Pacific Ocean and offers stunning views of the coastline. The pier is home to Pacific Park, a family-friendly amusement park that features a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and other rides. Visitors can also enjoy live music, street performers, and an array of food vendors.

Third Street Promenade

Located just a few blocks from the beach, the Third Street Promenade is a popular pedestrian-only shopping and dining destination. Visitors can stroll along the promenade and browse a variety of shops, from high-end boutiques to big-name retailers. The promenade is also home to a number of restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat or enjoy a night out.

Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California. This wide, sandy beach stretches for miles and offers plenty of space for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.

Visitors can also take a stroll along the boardwalk, which offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. For those looking to get active, there are plenty of opportunities for biking, rollerblading, and other outdoor activities.

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take in the sights, or enjoy some family-friendly fun, Santa Monica has something for everyone. With its stunning landmarks and attractions, it’s no wonder that this coastal city is one of the top destinations in California.

Outdoor Activities

Beach Activities

Santa Monica is known for its beautiful beaches, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy at Santa Monica State Beach and the surrounding areas. Visitors can take a dip in the ocean, soak up the sun on the sand, or try their hand at beach volleyball on one of the many courts available. The beach is also a popular spot for surfers, and there are guided bike tours available for those who want to explore the coastline.

For those looking for a more active experience, The Original Muscle Beach is a must-visit destination. This iconic outdoor gym is located on the south side of Santa Monica Pier and features a variety of fitness equipment, including rings, bars, and ropes.

Parks and Trails

In addition to the beaches, Santa Monica also has a number of parks and trails that are perfect for outdoor activities. Palisades Park is a great spot for a leisurely stroll, with stunning views of the coastline and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Tongva Park is another popular destination, with a playground, splash pad, and plenty of green space for picnics and games. The park also features a unique hillside garden and a bridge that offers panoramic views of the ocean.

For those looking for a more challenging workout, the Santa Monica Stairs are a great option. Located in a residential area near Montana Avenue, these stairs offer a steep climb and stunning views of the city.

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail is another popular destination, offering a scenic route along the coastline for walking, biking, or rollerblading. The trail starts at Will Rogers State Beach and ends at Torrance County Beach, with plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the beaches and parks along the way.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping Centers

Santa Monica is a shopper’s paradise, offering a variety of shopping centers to suit every taste and budget. The Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-only shopping street that runs through the heart of downtown Santa Monica. It boasts a wide range of shops, from major retailers like Nordstrom to independent boutiques selling everything from clothing to jewelry and home decor.

Another popular shopping center is Santa Monica Place, an upscale mall with over 80 stores, including high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. It also has a rooftop dining deck with stunning views of the ocean.

For a more laid-back shopping experience, head to Bay Street, a charming outdoor shopping center with a mix of chain stores and independent shops. It’s a great place to browse for unique gifts and souvenirs.

Farmers Markets

For those who prefer to shop for fresh, locally sourced produce, Santa Monica has several farmers markets to choose from. The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is the largest and most well-known, with over 85 vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetables to artisanal cheeses and baked goods. It’s open every Wednesday and Saturday and is a must-visit for foodies.


Santa Monica is home to a diverse range of restaurants, from casual beachside cafes to upscale fine dining establishments. The Strand House is a popular spot for seafood lovers, offering stunning views of the ocean and a menu featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

For something a little more casual, head to Cassia, a modern Asian brasserie with a lively atmosphere and a menu that includes everything from Vietnamese-style grilled pork chops to Singaporean-style chili crab.

No matter what your taste, Santa Monica has something to offer. Whether you’re in the mood for shopping or dining, this vibrant coastal city has it all.

Arts and Entertainment

Art Galleries

Santa Monica is home to a thriving art scene, and art galleries are a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The Bergamot Station Arts Center is a hub for contemporary art galleries, showcasing works from both local and international artists. Another notable gallery is the Richard Heller Gallery, which features contemporary paintings, sculptures, and installations.


The Aero Theatre is a historic landmark that hosts a variety of film screenings, including classic movies, independent films, and film festivals. The American Cinematheque is another popular theater that showcases a range of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign films.


The Museum of Flying is a fascinating museum that showcases the history of aviation, featuring exhibits on aircraft, engines, and aviation technology. The Camera Obscura is another museum worth visiting, with interactive exhibits on the history of photography and the science behind it.

Whether you’re interested in art, film, or history, Santa Monica has something to offer. With its diverse range of galleries, theaters, and museums, visitors are sure to find something to pique their interest.


Santa Monica offers a wide range of accommodation options that cater to different budgets and preferences. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly motels, visitors are sure to find a place that suits their needs.

For those arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), there are several hotels in the vicinity that offer convenient access to the airport. These hotels include the Hilton Los Angeles Airport, the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, and the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport.

Downtown Santa Monica is a popular area for visitors who want to be close to the beach and the city’s main attractions. There are several hotels in the area, including the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and the Shore Hotel.

Visitors who want to explore more of Los Angeles County can also find accommodation options in neighboring cities such as Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option, Santa Monica has it all. Visitors can choose from a variety of hotels, motels, and vacation rentals to make their stay in the city comfortable and enjoyable.

Travel Tips

When visiting Santa Monica, there are a few travel tips that can help make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Local Tips: Santa Monica is a popular tourist destination, so it can get crowded, especially during peak travel times. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the off-season or on weekdays. Additionally, parking can be difficult and expensive, so it’s recommended to use public transportation or ride-sharing services when possible.
  • Itineraries: With so much to see and do in Santa Monica, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary. One popular option is to start your day with a stroll along the Santa Monica Pier, followed by a visit to the Third Street Promenade for shopping and dining. In the afternoon, head to the beach for some sun and surf, and finish off the day with a sunset cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars in the area.
  • Day Trip: If you have more time to explore the area, consider taking a day trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. This scenic drive offers breathtaking views of the coastline and stops at charming beach towns like Malibu and Venice Beach.

Overall, by following these travel tips and planning your itinerary in advance, you can make the most of your time in Santa Monica and create lasting memories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some non-touristy things to do in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica has plenty of hidden gems that are worth exploring. Some non-touristy things to do in Santa Monica include visiting the Annenberg Community Beach House, hiking in Temescal Canyon Park, strolling through the Bergamot Station Arts Center, and shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

What are some fun activities to do with kids in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica is a great destination for families with kids. Some fun activities to do with kids in Santa Monica include visiting the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, playing at the Pacific Park amusement park, exploring the Santa Monica Pier, and spending a day at the beach.

What is Santa Monica known for?

Santa Monica is known for its beautiful beaches, iconic pier, and vibrant culture. It’s also home to world-class restaurants, upscale shopping destinations, and a thriving arts and entertainment scene.

Is Santa Monica Pier worth visiting?

Yes, the Santa Monica Pier is definitely worth a visit. It’s an iconic landmark that offers stunning views of the ocean and the coastline. There are plenty of fun activities to do on the pier, including riding the Ferris wheel, playing arcade games, and dining at one of the many restaurants.

How can I spend a day in Santa Monica?

There are many ways to spend a day in Santa Monica, depending on your interests. Some popular activities include visiting the beach, walking along the boardwalk, exploring the Third Street Promenade, and dining at one of the many restaurants.

What are some unique ways to celebrate a birthday in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica offers plenty of unique ways to celebrate a birthday. Some ideas include taking a sunset sailboat cruise, going on a food tour of the city, taking a private yoga class on the beach, or renting a bike and exploring the coastline.