Wondering where to find things to do in Santa Monica? Santa Monica is the perfect beach town with a plethora of attractions. Even 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. At just 8.3 square miles, you’ll find Santa Monica to be very walkable with a laid-back warmth to it.
The city offers a variety of attractions, so you’ll never be left to wonder what to do in Santa Monica. Your itinerary can be as complex or as simple as you wish—fill your days with museum-hopping and world-class shopping, or relax on the beach and watch the world go by. Here are some of the top Santa Monica attractions and activities.
SANTA MONICA BEACH
The long, wide expanse of Santa Monica Beach is distinguished from other Southern California shorelines by the sheer extent of activities one can enjoy. Both sand and ocean are clean and beautiful, making for some grade-A beachcombing, swimming, and surfing. But that’s not all. Bike down The Marvin Braude Bike Trail, with the wind at your back and the crash of the waves in your ears, indulge in some seaside chess, try your hand at a game of beach volleyball, or stop to enjoy the outdoor activities offered at the Annenberg Community Beach House. After a day out, stick around for the finest Santa Monica attraction of all—a fiery beachside sunset.
Santa Monica’s size means that visitors can find a variety of restaurants — cuisine, price and atmosphere — in close proximity to each other. Santa Monica offers a number of outdoor dining options and our cuisine is varied and international.
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.
Santa Monica was on the vanguard of the local foods movement long before it became mainstream, and the use of sustainable, organic ingredients is central to the cooking approach of the leading chefs around town.
Whether you are visiting for the week, the weekend, or just looking for something for the day, we’ve compiled your guide for what to do in Santa Monica.
Whether you are visiting for the week, the weekend, or just looking for something to do, we’ve compiled your guide to things to do in Santa Monica. There’s something for beach lovers, activities and attractions for thrill-seekers and ll of the dining and happy hour selections you may be looking for. Beach Burger serves California classic cuisine including made-to-order burgers, hot dogs, and their famous crinkle fries. Breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches are also served each morning starting at 9am. Specializing in 9″ personal pizzas that are made-to-order hot and fresh, Pacific Wheel Pizza Company also serves bread sticks and wings. Home of the original Ice Blended, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is open daily and serves hot coffee and specialty teas, as well as a selection of fresh pastries and treats. From hand-dipped ice cream, banana splits, sundaes and shakes, Scoops Ice Cream and Treats has a delicious selection of frozen desserts and fun snacks. Proudly serving Lappert’s premium ice cream. Inside Pacific Park you will also find the Pier famous funnel cakes, fish tacos, cotton candy, Wetzel’s Pretzels, and Popcornopolis gourmet popcorn served from a classic, customized Airstream trailer.
When one thinks of Santa Monica, the attraction of the 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 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.
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 Nordstrom’s glittering storefront at Santa Monica Place (to say nothing of the extensive Third Street Promenade), you won’t want for options.
On Montana Avenue there’s Moondance Jewelry Gallery, where an array of jewelry sparkles – from high end to affordable. This neighborhood boutique garners raves for its creations by local artists and for its own expertly curated line, Yasmeen. Also on Montana Avenue is Andrew’s Cheese Shop, which is the perfect stop to pick up a gourmet sandwich or a picnic basket for your day (or night) at the beach. All baskets and to-go boxes include a baguette, a selection of cheeses, and plastic utensils. Andrew’s Cheese Shop also frequently has events, such as grilled cheese and beer nights, which you can find out more about on their website.
Claiming the title “Organic Market,” Downtown Santa Monica’s farmers market started in 1991 and on Saturdays offers the largest percentage of certified-organic growers of any market in the city. Additionally, each weekend features menu options from downtown restaurants. Other highlights include Valerie Confections, which sells seasonally inspired pastries, hand pies, and cakes, both sweet and savory, and Thao Farms, which offers an assortment of Asian staples such as taro, turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger.