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Things to do in Santa Monica

Things to do in  Santa Monica

Welcome to Santa Monica

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.

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Trip ideas

Top activities in Santa Monica

Private Therapy Sailing Adventure

Private Therapy Sailing Adventure

per group
Malibu Wineries Private Tour

Malibu Wineries Private Tour

Private Tour of Los Angeles For Any Group Size

Private Tour of Los Angeles For Any Group Size

per group
Santa Monica & Venice Bike Tour

Santa Monica & Venice Bike Tour

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All about Santa Monica

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A local’s pocket guide to Santa Monica

Erin Green

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

The first thing you should do in Santa Monica is...

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.

A perfect Saturday in Santa Monica...

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.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

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.

To discover the “real” Santa Monica...

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.

For the best view of the city...

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.

One thing people get wrong is...

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.

People Also Ask

What is Santa Monica known for?

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.

How do I spend a day in Santa Monica?

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.

Is Santa Monica Pier free?

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.

Is Santa Monica better than Venice Beach?

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.

What is so special about Santa Monica Pier?

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.

Is Santa Monica worth visiting?

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top activities in Santa Monica?
What are the top things to do near Santa Monica?
What do I need to know before visiting Santa Monica?