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Balancing laid-back beach vibes with a carnivalesque atmosphere, Santa Monica is one of Southern California’s favorite playgrounds. The young at heart find their bliss on the Santa Monica pier, which features a vintage theme park, while the stylish set flocks to the Third Street Promenade for coastal-chic shopping. There’s also room to spread out on Santa Monica’s wide, flat beach—in fact, it's one of the top things to do here—where outdoor aerobics classes coexist with beach volleyball games, surfers, and sunbathers.
Summer is a beautiful time to visit Santa Monica, but it’s also when prices are higher, and the beaches are packed with people. A visit in fall, especially in September, is recommended, as most crowds have headed home in time for school to start. Warmer weather usually sticks around until mid-October. If you’re on a budget, visit anytime from December through February when accommodations tend to be more affordable, and the city’s downtown features an ice-skating rink until January.
There are options for getting around Santa Monica without renting a car, taking a taxi, or using a rideshare. The city itself is walkable and also offers a Breeze Bike Share service and e-scooters. If you’re looking to hop from the Santa Monica Pier to downtown Los Angeles or other stops, just hop aboard the city’s Metro E (Expo) Line. Guided tours also offer opportunities for sightseeing with transportation.
Most people flock to Santa Monica for the beach and its seaside pier, but the city also is home to many impressive street-art graffiti displays. The city boasts more than a hundred murals (and counting!) packed into its 8.3 square miles (21.5 square kilometers). Some areas worth checking out during your visit include downtown / 3rd Street Promenade and Ocean Avenue. First-time visitors may want to start at 315 Colorado Avenue, as well as take a stroll under the pier.
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Ever since Erin’s college days just down the street at UCLA, Santa Monica has been her go-to place for fun, sun, shopping, and bar hopping
go to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Grab an ice cream or some oysters, find a comfy seat, and do some hardcore people watching. Get inspiration from the ocean, roller skaters, and aromas from beachside restaurants.
starts with grabbing brunch on Montana and a matcha from La La Land Kind Cafe, then heading to the beach. In the evening, get spruced up and have dinner and drinks at the Ivy and look for movie stars.
playing games on the Santa Monica Pier. Once you start getting into it, your inner child breaks free and your competitive drive kicks in. Be ready to get your heart set on that giant teddy bear, and you just might win it.
hit the bar scene. The ears on the walls of the oldest bars in town have stories for days, and so do the bartenders and regulars. Hit up places like Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe, Alhambra Cocktail Lounge, and The Golden Gopher.
head to Palisades Park along Ocean Avenue. Sit next to the Civil War Cannon and check out the views of the Santa Monica Pier and the beach along the coast. Another perk of the Palisades? It’s completely free.
thinking that you’re guaranteed to see a celebrity. But it’s always worth a shot—so visit those cocktail bars, shop on Third Street, keep your eyes open, cross your fingers and toes, and you just might spot a celeb or two.
Santa Monica is known for the sunbathers lounging on its sandy beach, locals playing arcade games and fishing along the Santa Monica Pier, shoppers browsing on Third Street Promenade, and famous people dining and drinking at its hip and happening restaurants and bars....More
Start your day in Santa Monica with a stroll on Ocean Front Walk to the beach and Santa Monica Pier. Pick up donuts at Sidecar or meander down Montana Avenue. Shop at Third Street Promenade, eat somewhere trendy, and visit Abbot Kinney in Venice for sundowners at a funky bar....More
Yes, Santa Monica Pier is free. But to experience the attractions, that’ll cost you. Ride prices vary, but an all-inclusive wristband is the best deal if you’re riding more than a few. Walking the pier, chatting with fishermen, and watching the pastel sunsets over the Pacific are always free....More
No, Santa Monica isn’t better than Venice Beach. Both neighborhoods have distinctive things to do. Venice has the canals and a hip beach vibe, while Santa Monica has more of a city feel and happening nightlife. Luckily they are close to each other, so you can visit both....More
Santa Monica Pier is the western terminus of Route 66 and a historic California landmark since 1909— two qualities that make it special. Besides the history, the Santa Monica Pier is home to the Pacific Wheel, carnival games, vendors, restaurants, fishermen, good vibes, and a place to watch the sunsets....More
Yes, Santa Monica is worth visiting. There’s sightseeing on the Santa Monica Pier, walking or cycling along Ocean Front Walk, shopping on Third Street Promenade, and eating your way from one restaurant to another. Immerse yourself in the Santa Monica scene, and you might see some movie stars, too....More