Santa Monica California
A perfect Pacific Ocean sunset over the Santa Monica Pier
Browsing shops along the pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade
An ideal spot for meditation on Santa Monica Beach
“Love” by Allison Kunath at The Brixton – one of the city's 150-plus street art murals
Taking a surf lesson at Santa Monica Beach
A classic neon sign on the Santa Monica Pier
Acrobats and athletes training at the Original Muscle Beach
Picking up fresh produce at one of Santa Monica's farmers markets
Enjoying sunshine, sea breezes and fresh California cuisine at Sugar Palm Ocean Avenue
Boutique shopping at Goods in the Ocean Park neighborhood
- Major Airports:
- Los Angeles (LAX)
A relaxing, coastal getaway just west of the city grind
Quintessential Coastal California
In a state known for icons, Santa Monica’s landmarks are impressive. Several can be found on its 5.6-kilometer Pacific Ocean beachfront, celebrated for its surfable waves and waterside recreation. Its centerpiece is the famed Santa Monica Pier, which stretches out over the waves and lights up the sky with its solar-powered Ferris wheel, the flagship ride at Pacific Park. There are also restaurants, an aquarium, games, street performers, sweet treats and nightly sunsets over the ocean. For a classic beach day, head north to the North Beach Playground and Annenberg Community Beach House, which features a pool, playground, splash pad and beach sports. It’s also free and open to the public, but has exclusive roots: It was built for actress Marion Davies by William Randolph Hearst and was visited by Hollywood icons such as Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo.
Activities Along the Shoreline
Your Santa Monica vacation shouldn’t stop at only seeing the breathtaking scenes and sights. To truly enjoy them, get out and experience them. On the south side of the pier, you’ll find the Original Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym area featuring ropes, parallel bars and other equipment, where fitness buffs and families alike can show off for anyone who wants to watch. The 35-kilometer Marvin Braude Bike Trail, known locally as The Strand, runs along the coast and has been featured in countless films and TV shows. The cliffside houses in the Pacific Palisades will be instantly recognizable. For a lovely stroll just off the sand, Palisades Park runs the full length of downtown Santa Monica and features sculptures, a rose garden and views of the beach from a clifftop overlook.
Exquisite Shopping & Dining
Retail therapy is abundant in Santa Monica’s neighborhoods, especially at Third Street Promenade, a three-block area that’s free from cars. In between stops at retailers, you’ll have the chance to catch some amazing street performers. At its heart is Santa Monica Place, an upscale shopping destination with more than 80 stores from designer boutiques to world-famous brands. For a local shopping experience, Montana Avenue is home to luxurious and unique stores, while Main Street offers chic clothing shops, design stores and art galleries. When you’re ready for a break, grab a bite at one of many buzzworthy restaurants. Tar & Roses serves up trendy New American fare; Lunetta boasts quintessential Californian cuisine; and Birdie G’s melds American and Eastern European flavors. For a nightcap, grab a drink at Canary, where you can take in the hip California vibes, or The Penthouse, where you can enjoy cocktails and ocean views from the top of the Huntley Hotel.
A Route 66 sign can be found on the Santa Monica Pier – a reminder that the city is the endpoint to the USA’s fabled highway that connected its heartland to the vast Pacific Ocean.
Santa Monica is for (art) lovers. It claims the second largest collection of galleries per square foot in the USA (after New York City). It’s also home to more than 130 public murals.
The city’s connections to film and TV lore are many. The Annenberg Community Beach House was built for actress Marion Davies by William Randolph Hearst. Shirley Temple, Jack Black, Anjelica Huston, Tobey Maguire and Jamie Lee Curtis were all born in Santa Monica.