Things to do in Santa Monica

Top 15 awesome things to do in Santa Monica

At Santa Monica, the sun, sea, and sands create the perfect combination of an addictive beachside cityscape that you’d never want to leave – seriously I loved this place! Here happiness reinvents itself through the town’s laidback lifestyle, its friendly people, its sun-kissed scenic cliffside, and golden beaches. If you are looking for a combination of city adventure and relaxing fun, Santa Monica offers a generous number of exciting options. This article lists 15 awesome things to do in Santa Monica…

Sunbathe on the Beautiful ‘Baywatch’ Beach – one of the must-do things in Santa Monica! 

Baywatch Beach Santa Monica

With the popular Baywatch series shot here, the Santa Monica beach is one of the busiest places in the city. This beautiful beach offers people the chance to soak up some sun and enjoy a splash of cool waves. Make sure to pack your sunblock, mat, and an umbrella to create a comfortable picnic in the sand.

There are lots of food options nearby. For a quick bite, head to Big Dean’s Ocean Front Café. This casual joint is known to serve some great beer and wine. During good weather, enjoy surfing and other water activities on the beach.

Hike or cycle the 26-mile bike path – a great activity to do in Santa Monica

26 Mile Path Santa Monica

Rent up a bicycle at Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, Torrance, or Manhattan Beach and take a ride down the 26-mile bike path, commonly known as “The Strand.” From the start to the end, this casual bike trail offers the most splendid views of the coastline along its path. Hiking or biking down this scenic route guarantees a day full of fun, activity and picturesque nature views.

If you start at the Santa Monica Pier, follow the path through the South Bay Beach communities, the Marina del Rey harbor, and the King Harbor at Redondo Beach up till Torrance and then make your way back. Alternatively, you can halt for food and drinks at the Marina and return back from there. At Dockweiler, don’t forget to stop to take in the stunning views and even try out hang gliding. Carry a bike lock, cash, sunblock, water, sunglasses, and a windbreaker to make sure you can enjoy your time on The Strand.

Enjoy the Santa Monica Pier Fairground

Santa Monica Pier and Fairground

Located at the end of the famous Route, the Santa Monica Pier, with its colorful Ferris wheel, historic carousel, and exciting rollercoaster is an amazing attraction. Day or night, the Santa Monica Pier Fairground outshines everything around it. Interestingly, the Ferris Wheel is the only one in the world to be powered by solar energy.

After all, Santa Monica hardly sees a day without the sun shining brightly on its golden sands. The rollercoaster goes high enough to showcase lovely views of the expansive ocean. There are plenty of interesting small shops and boutiques that sell items from sunscreen and towels to t-shirts and souvenir shops.

Visit the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market

Santa Monica Farmers’ Market

On Wednesdays and weekends, from 8am till 1pm, the Santa Monica Farmers’ market brings the city alive with a different kind of the hustle and bustle. Residents, chefs, and tourists alike throng at the market for fresh goods. The market is home to amazing fresh fruit and vegetables, organic dishes, local produce, exotic foods, aged cheese as well as other items. The market is held at different places:

  • Wednesdays – Arizona Ave, between 4th and Ocean
  • Saturdays – Arizona Ave, between 4th and 2nd
  • Saturdays – 2200 Virginia Ave
  • Sundays – 2640 Main St.

Have a drink or two at The Bungalow

The Bungalow Santa Monica

At The Bungalow, the atmosphere is warm and homely yet vibrant, and exciting. The ambiance draws a crowd and lets them cherish every moment they spend here. The bar includes a variety of exotic cocktails and offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Like a bungalow, the place is divided into large, spacious rooms that include a game room, a private dining area, and a large main bar.

The front deck has fire pits and is beautifully decorated with twinkling lanterns hanging from the trees. With an absolutely awesome and fun-filled vibe, The Bungalow is a great option for a few drinks over lunch or some nighttime revelries.

Play Tennis or Basketball at Ocean View Park

Ocean View Park Santa Monica

Ocean View Park is a local park that comprises 1 basketball court and 6 tennis courts. Loved by locals and tourists for its picturesque views, the park offers visitors the chance to enjoy a game of basketball or tennis or simply stroll through its grounds. It is a lovely place to relax, rejuvenate and connect with nature, even on days when you don’t feel like being very active.

Take a photo next to a famous lifeguard tower!

Lifeguard Tower Santa Monica

It won’t take too long for you to spot the lifeguard towers from the Santa Monica beach. These are working lifeguard stations popularized by the TV series Baywatch as well as several other Hollywood movies. Take an insta-worthy photo at the lifeguard towers that will immediately and easily get the attention of your friends, families, and fans.

Go Surfing or Paddleboarding

Surfing in Santa Monica

The Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, and Manhattan Beach is known to attract surfers, all year round. Santa Monica’s beaches are good for surfers of all levels. If you are an intermediate or advanced surfer, you will enjoy the cobblestone point breaks at Palos Verdes and Malibu.

Though these are spotted with surfers in peak season, you can enjoy solitary surfing, in the early mornings or late afternoons. The region also offers several lesser-known areas that are good to ride the waves alone.

Explore Palisades Park

Palisades Park Santa Monica

Looking to spend a lazy afternoon in Santa Monica? Visit Palisades Park. Palisades Park not only offers panoramic views of the ocean but also mesmerizing sights of its natural landscape. This park is filled with rare trees, historic monuments and even public art installations.

You will find yourself stopping every now and then to capture photos of the expansive waters and then realize that the trees around you need to be captured too.

Get Fit at the Santa Monica Muscle Beach

Santa Monica Muscle Beach

With the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno working out at The Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, this is an amazing option for those looking to enjoy themselves as they stay active and fit. This is an outdoor body-building gym area that features ropes, parallel bars, swings and benches and weights. The Muscle Beach has gained international fame as gymnasts, athletes, and performers from all over contributed to its gym and it has now become the place-to-be for celebrities, actors, and even bodybuilders.

You can not only work out but also watch talented acrobats and gymnasts practice at the beach. There are two Muscle Beaches locations within Santa Monica – Original Muscle Beach Santa Monica, and Muscle Beach Venice. Both have a lot of open-air workout options.

Shop at Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade Santa Monica

Third Street Promenade is just a stone’s throw from the shore. The alfresco-style setup for shops sees large crowds of shoppers every day, with many of the visitors enjoying coffee or snacks with friends in between their shopping sprees.

This is a pedestrian-only zone, which allows shoppers to comfortably walk down the street as they wander from fancy boutiques, designer outlets to beautiful trinket stores for knick-knacks. Great places for food at the promenade include The Gallery Food Hall, 1212 Monica, The Misfit Restaurant, and Voltaggio STRFISH.

Relax in Tongva Park

Relax in Tongva Park

Inside Tongva Park, is a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and palm-lined paths. Known for its natural beauty, the park covers more than 6 acres of land and is divided into four sections:

  • Discovery Hill
  • Observation Hill
  • Garden Hill
  • Gathering Hill

Named after the indigenous Tongva people, this urban oasis includes a collection of native plants, an amphitheater, a playground, fountains, a splash pad, and picturesque picnic spots.

Take a trip to the Santa Monica Camera Obscura

 Santa Monica Camera Obscura

Built in 1898 by Robert F. Jones, and given to the city in 1907, the camera spent almost 50 years documenting life on the Santa Monica beach. The Camera Obscura houses this 19th-century equipment that allowed people to capture photos. Santa Monica’s Camera Obscura offers a unique angle on the ocean viewed through an antiquated lens. 

Viewing this technology that eventually led to the making of modern-day cameras is a unique experience – one that only a few in the world get to enjoy.

Wander Around one of the many local Art Galleries Art Gallery Santa Monica

Located near Hollywood, where creative ingenuity abounds, Santa Monica has a treasure trove of its own, in terms of art. Adam’s stained glass and art glass gallery have gained considerable fame for their beautiful art pieces.

Other popular art galleries include Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Craig Krull Gallery, and Peter Fetterman Gallery. If you’re inspired to try your hand at art, walk into art studios like ‘Paint: Lab’ to create your own work of art.  

Stay at a gorgeous Boutique Hotel

Palihouse Santa Monica

Santa Monica is known for its amazing and abundant boutique hotels. These boutique hotels have one thing in common – all of them offer breathtaking views either of the ocean or of the city. While these hotels may not be as known as global 5-star chains, they offer unparalleled hospitality through their friendly staff. These hotels are beautifully designed and decorated, with attention to detail to ensure that all guest needs are fulfilled. A stay at one of these gorgeous boutique hotels guarantees a comfortable and memorable stay in the city.

Some of the best boutique hotels are Shore Hotel, Ambrose Hotel, Casa Del Mar, and PaliHouse. All of them are centrally located and have in-house gourmet restaurants. It is worth considering choosing from these alternative accommodations because you will spend most of your time in Santa Monica enjoying the outdoors!

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Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fuelled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organisations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specialising in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find him on Instagram @garynansome and Twitter @garynansome

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