Santa Monica is the perfect beach town with a plethora of attractions which makes it your dream destination. More so than adjacent Malibu or Venice Beach, Santa Monica manages the ideal balance of seaside charm and coastal sophistication. This makes it an entirely attractive travel destination. The city also offers plenty of things to do like museum-hopping and world-class shopping, or relax on the beach and watch the world go by. Here are 10 reasons you should include Santa Monica in your next trip to California:
SANTA MONICA PIER
When one thinks of things to do in Santa Monica, the attraction of the Santa Monica Pier inevitably comes to mind. Its red and yellow Ferris wheel is a city icon. The Pier offers Pacific Park, a full-service amusement park, combined with plenty of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops, as well as an entertaining arcade with more than 200 games. Pacific Park’s solar-powered Ferris wheel makes it the only one of its kind in the region. By day, marvel at the historic Looff Hippodrome Carousel, check out the street performers, or snag a stick of puffy cotton candy. The views of Malibu and the South Bay are pretty outstanding and make for the perfect evening when watched with a beer in hand. Stick around past sunset and you might just catch live local music to the sound of the nearby waves. The Santa Monica Pier is a must-visit Santa Monica attraction that really sets Santa Monica apart as an ideal destination for families and visitors of any age.
BEACH GETAWAY WITH A SIDE OF HISTORY
Perched on the Pacific Ocean and set along three and a half miles of glistening coastline, the beachfront city of Santa Monica presents endless opportunities for you to truly embrace the Santa Monica lifestyle and the wide array of oceanfront activities that come along with it. When paired with Santa Monica’s year-round mild, balmy climate and over 300 days of sunshine annually, it is no surprise that National Geographic listed Santa Monica as one of the “Top Ten Beach Cities in the World” and that such a place has some of the finest beach activities available to those who set foot on its shore. Explore Santa Monica through virtual reality.
Santa Monica has steadily been making its place in history as one of the world’s most beloved beach destinations since its inception in 1875 when Santa Monica founder John P. Jones purchased and plotted the city’s 8.3 square miles. From the opening of the first pleasure pier in the West in 1909, to becoming a playground for Hollywood A-listers and home to the international fitness craze in the 1920s, to the birth of a legendary hotel collection during the 1980s, Santa Monica’s rich history continues to influence the charming seaside town that has become a favorite travel destination for people from all over the world.
TRAPEZE SCHOOL OF NEW YORK
The Trapeze School of New York (TSNY) offers up a high-flying, fun-filled experience on the Santa Monica Pier. There are opportunities for everyone, from the thrill-seeker to fear-facer, athlete to couch potato, casual flyer to serious aerialist. Classes are two hours long and are taught in groups of up to 10 people. No prior experience is necessary.
Ready to go shopping? With multiple walkable shopping neighborhoods, great sales and designer threads are always within arm’s reach. Whether you prefer name brands or global couture, you’ll find it here. But where Santa Monica shopping really shines is with independent boutiques that reflect the city’s casually sophisticated style. From the quaint little shops of Montana Avenue—Lucy, Splendid, Ruti, Citron—to the glittering storefronts of Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom at Santa Monica Place (to say nothing of the extensive Third Street Promenade), you won’t want for options.
Montana Avenue, which sits at the city’s northern edge, is home to a stretch of more than 150 restaurants and retailers. Though it’s just a short walk from Downtown Santa Monica, it feels removed from the hustle and bustle of the Promenade and Pier. Late-night options may be limited, but from sunrise to sunset, a steady stream of shoppers browse the surrounding storefronts amid a relaxed crowd of A-list celebrities, out-of-towners, and parents pushing strollers, none of whom seem in a hurry to leave the wealth of juice bars, latte vendors, and outdoor cafés.
Stick around past sunset and you’ll find the city shifts and changes. Locals from all over the LA area head to Santa Monica, where the combination of walkable and casual make for a memorable evening no matter what the occasion. Start with happy hour on a rooftop bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean, such as ONYX at Hotel Shangri-La or Sonoma Wine Garden at Santa Monica Place, and end the night dancing at Circle Bar or Bar Copa, or sidled up to the counter at one of the city’s dive bars, such as Chez Jay.
TO TASTE MOUTHWATERING FOOD IN RENOWNED RESTAURANTS
Visitors and locals come to eat in Santa Monica because of our renowned restaurants and chefs – Fig, Huckleberry Café & Bakery, Tar & Roses – and restaurants want to be in Santa Monica because of the location, the variety and the farmers market. Santa Monica isn’t just a good eating town, it’s an international dining destination and reputed birthplace of “California” and “fusion” cuisine – marked by an artistic blending of culinary styles and the freshest of organic ingredients.
LUXURIOUS HOTELS AND RESORTS
While Hollywood may be known for its glitz and glam, luxury, too, abounds at Santa Monica hotels, but with the added value of being at the beach. What makes staying in Santa Monica the best are the ocean views, local vibes and the fact that you can regularly find some of Hollywood’s most elite hanging out here. Mere steps from the beach are the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, which has welcomed beach-loving jetsetters for more than a century. When the sun goes down, the vibe turns up at The Bungalow, the Fairmont’s standalone beach house bar and restaurant that’s popular among locals. Also just off the beach is the Viceroy Santa Monica. Let the day go by while cozying up in the lush cabanas lining the pool, but don’t miss the sunset while dining al fresco on the Cast patio.
Relaxation and wellness comes in waves at these Santa Monica spas and restaurants. Whether it’s a pre-dawn yoga or surf session or an evening spin class, Santa Monicans are known to play hard. But locals have also mastered the art of wellness and recovery, thanks to the city’s abundance of spas, yoga studios, juicing bars, and healthy eating options. So work up a sweat (or not) and then dial up some serious downtime, because we’ve left no hot stone unturned in our search for the most rejuvenating spots in the city. All that’s left for you to do? Just breathe.
ARTS AND CULTURE
For a small city located in Los Angeles County, Santa Monica plays a highly influential role in the arts and cultural life of Southern California. In fact, more than half of the people who live in Santa Monica are employed by the arts. Santa Monica boasts a diverse and vibrant arts scene, with nationally acclaimed galleries, vibrant public art, leading museums, theaters, and a busy schedule of performing arts, plays, and concerts.