Santa Monica

Anchoring the Westside of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is a beachfront city popular with tourists for its expansive beach and its famous pier, which are among the most popular coastal attractions in Southern California. Within the city itself, visitors will find a number of urban shopping districts and plenty of restaurants and nightlife.

58 things to do

All Places United States California

Santa Monica Pier

A bustling boardwalk whose huge Ferris Wheel is the city's icon, with terrific coastline views of Malibu and the Southbay. The long pier has an old-fashioned amusement park, with reasonable by-the-ride pricing, including a small roller coaster. The Pier has restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and some street performers. At almost all hours you'll find at least a few people fishing as well. The Pier is within easy walking distance to the Promenade.

DO   —  Map

Cock N Bull Pub

Referred to as "the most OG English bar in LA" by espn's page 2, the Cock and Bull Serves typical British pub fair, has a wide array of beer on tap, and authentic British bar tenders. Although it can be quiet on the week nights this bar rapidly fills up when ever a quality soccer (football to the rest of the world) match or rugby game is on the TV, regardless of what time it is on, during the World Cup lines started forming at 4AM.


Best known for its exotic fried insects, this pan-asian restaurant also serves dim sum and sushi, Malasian and Thai, in a unique setting with a view of the runway. Window tables have great views of the runway activity. Try the steamed whole fish (bass or catfish). Adventurous eaters can try tasty appetizers of crickets, scorpions, sea worms and ants. MSG used, so be sure to ask for your food without it if it disagrees with you.

Santa Monica Beach

A large, wide, beautiful beach on either side of the pier. Perry's rents bikes and roller blades or bring your own for use on the world famous *strand* that links all of the Westside beach cities. For some of the best people watching in the world, follow the strand south a couple of miles to Venice Beach. Hire a bike or skates and travel along the cycle path (there are a number of shops to hire from around and on the pier).

DO   —  Map

Twilight Dance Series

The Twilight Dance Series is a free concert series that has been running since 1983. Acts range from rock to reggae to folk and have included artists such as the Indigo Girls, Patti Smith, Los Lobos, Dick Dale and others. There is no organized seating, so arrive early to stake out a spot and bring something soft to sit on since the pier can be hard (note that once concerts start most people end up standing).

DO   —  Map

Third Street Promenade

A very successful Urban mall project: a vibrant, outdoor street full of restaurants, movie theaters, shopping, bookstores, and bars. Those who enjoy street performances will be impressed by the quality of musicians, dancers, and others. The Promenade is located only three blocks from the beach, the Promenade is one of L.A.'s most popular places to "hang out" for people of all ages.

DO   —  Map

Blue Plate

Blue Plate is a small, cozy neighborhood eatery that serves great American comfort food. Located in the heart of Montana Avenue, Blue Plate is close to many hip boutiques and is a great rest stop after a day of shopping. An added plus: the menu is kid-friendly, offering healthy items for kids as well as organic baby food. The turkey meatballs and mac 'n cheese are a must-try.

Museum of Flying

Centered around artifacts from the Douglas Aircraft Company, which used to manufacture iconic aircraft like the DC-3 at the Santa Monica Airport. It includes many aircraft in static display, from a replica Wright Flyer to WWII fighters to the microjet which appeared in the James Bond film ''Octopussy''. "Rides" in a full-motion flight simulator are $8 each.

The Penthouse

A rooftop Santa Monica restaurant located on the 18th floor of The Huntley Hotel. Offers a bar and lounge and panoramic ocean views. Menu features contemporary American cuisine with global influences from Asia and Brazil. Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7PM. Also available for private events.

The Lobster

One of the few restaurants in Santa Monica that actually has a view of the Pacific Ocean. Located at the Eastern end of the Santa Monica Pier, The Lobster provides good seafood dishes, great cocktails and a little bit of a scene. While a little noisy and on the expensive side ($120+ for two with alcohol), the food, fun and view can make it worthwhile.

Main Street

From Pico Blvd to Navy Street, Main Street shopping is similar to Montana Ave in that it celebrates the independent retailer. Main Street also has its fair share of excellent restaurants and bars. Heritage Square on Main Street is home to the widely popular, family-friendly [ Sunday Farmer's Market].

BUY   —  Map

Fathers Office

Best Burgers in Santa Monica in this tiny and wildly popular pub. Offers beers from over 20 different micro-breweries, a nice wine selection, but alas no full bar. The other downside is that its a small space and very popular so long lines quickly spring up. Don't try to change any of the items on the burger - it's their way or the highway.

DRINK   —  +1 310-323-BEER —  1018 Montana Ave

Chess Park

How is your chess game? Chess park lies along the concrete path about 500 feet (150 m) south of the pier, and is frequented by locals who rate no less than class B in standard chess and can promise a fierce game of blitz chess. Watch a game in action, or challenge an aficionado. Be prepared for some keen competition, though.

DO   —  Map

View Decks at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO)

Open air-decks with picnic tables. Watch and photograph the airplanes as they come and go at the airport. Listen to Air Traffic Control on loudspeakers. Bring a picnic lunch. Also, Clover Park, at the corner of 25th Street and Ocean Park Boulevard, has a viewing area with a telescope focused on the runway.

Snug Harbor

A great breakfast place! A small "hole in the wall" with a relaxed atmosphere and competent service, you'll find many locals trying to wake up on Saturdays and Sundays. Offering up traditional bacon and eggs with a twist the food is fresh and good. Meat lovers should try Uncle Zeke's scramble.

Renee's Courtyard Cafe

This is a great bar. One of the few you can still smoke in, technically. Its entrance way is a patio, with tables, so its outside, and ashtrays abound. There are lots of little nooks and cranny's here, each room with its own feel. Mellow during the weekend, a total meet market on the weekends!

Viceroy Hotel

The Viceroy Hotel is perfect for travellers who are seeking an ultra-hip experience and don't have any budget restrictions. One block from the beach, the Viceroy still is able to command $300+ per night because of its status as "One of the 50 hottest hotels in the world".

SLEEP   —  +1 310 260-7500 —  1819 Ocean Ave


Along with Chez Panisse in Berkeley, lead the nouvelle cuisine movement. Using fresh vegetables from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, locally caught fish and excellent meats every dish is sublime. While not cheap, a meal at Michael's does not disappoint.

EAT   —  1147 Third St

O'Brien's Irish Pub

This is your typical Irish pub, but BIG! IT has 4 parts really. The outside patio, the front seating area, the bar, and the back room with the stage. There is almost always live music on the stage, ranging from punk rock bands to acoustic sing-alongs.

DRINK   —  +1 310 396-4725 —  2941 Main St

Trapeze School New York

Trapeze School New York at Santa Monica Pier is a school of flying trapeze and aerial arts open to the public and for all skill levels and ages. Also offered are corporate workshops, events and parties, birthday parties and performance workshops.

DO   —  +1 310 394-5800 —  Map


Also featuring organic, locally grown produce and two tasting menus (including a vegetarian version), Melisse is Chef Josiah Citrin latest world class restaurant. The food is outstanding and gets the highest marks in Zagat and Michelin.

Third Street Promenade

A completely pedestrianized street that is the region's most popular shopping destination. Though chain stores have pushed out independent ones, it is the vibrant street life that distinguishes Third Street from the rest.

BUY   —  Map

El Cholo

A Los Angeles institution and this Santa Monica branch offers great margaritas and wonderful traditional Mexican food. The green corn tamales, available from May to October each year, are a specialty.

EAT   —  1025 Wilshire Blvd

Ambrose Hotel

While 20 blocks from the beach, the Ambrose Hotel offers great style and comfort for less than the large beach-front hotels. Very convenient if visiting someone at St. John's Santa Monica Hospital.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 315-1555 —  1255 20th St

V Lounge

Santa Monica's largest dance club, with a huge sunken dance floor. DJs spin pulsating Top 40, hip-hop, R&B and rock, with a down-to-earth crowd who wants to avoid the hassle of the Hollywood scene.

Seaview Hotel

A 1950s art deco gem one block from the ocean. The rooms are upgraded with fresh colors, cozy fibers and trendy furniture. Each room includes free wireless, flat screen TV's and free maid service.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 393-6711 —  1760 Ocean Ave

Ye Olde Kings Head

British style pub that is a notable hangout for tourists, celebrities and locals. Favorite amongst local Brits to watch football and play pub quiz on Tuesdays. Has excellent fish and chips.

Tacos Por Favor

Fresh, cooked to order Mexican food in a taqueria atmosphere. It features good tacos and an excellent chicken mole burrito. Don't miss the pickled carrots and jalepeƱos in the salsa bar.

Santa Monica Place

An indoor-outdoor mall that was extensively remodeled in 2010. It houses a variety of restaurants, shops, and pavilions. A large parking garage is attached with reasonable hourly rates.

BUY   —  395 Santa Monica Pl

Solidarity Restaurant

Authentic Polish food can be found on Lincoln with a signature dish of roast duck. They have a fantastic outdoor patio in the back where you can get a great vodka martini.

Montana Avenue

Located on Montana between 7 and 17th streets, this area is relatively free of major national chains but is full of quaint but expensive local boutiques and cafes.

BUY   —  Map

Bay Cities Italian Deli

Some of the best sandwiches on the west side. There will be a long wait during peak hours, so browse the authentic Italian market after you take your number.

Casa del Mar

One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the Beach and has prices that reflect this rare amenity. Share pools, spas, etc. with Shutters.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 581-5533 —  1910 Ocean Way

Georgian Hotel

The Georgian Hotel is an Art Deco classic that dates back to the 1920s. Rooms are smaller and prices are not cheap, but it is a great place to stay.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 395-9945 —  1415 Ocean Ave

HI Los Angeles/Santa Monica

Hostel/backpacker style accommodation. 200 beds, clean, safe, plenty of activities. Linen incl. towel provided, the bed is even made for you

SLEEP   —  +1 310 393-9913 —  1436 Second St

Circle Bar

This is a deep dark space that as you would imagine has a circular bar, popular with the twenty-something I drink too much crowd.

DRINK   —  +1 310-450-0508 —  2926 Main St


Offers Indian Cuisine with a California consciousness. Emphasis is on healthy, so sauces are lighter, but flavor is still great.

The Huntley

A luxury hotel featuring a business center, fitness facilities, concierge service, and fine dining at The Penthouse.

SLEEP   —  +1 310-394-5454 —  1111 Second St

Angels Attic Museum

A museum of antique and contemporary dolls, doll houses, and toys. The only parking is at metered street locations.

Britannia Pub

Small but very friendly Brit style pub, popular with locals and budget travelers. Good and cheap snacks and meals.


One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the beach. Share pools, spas, etc. with Casa del Mar.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 458-0030 —  1 Pico Blvd

Ocean and Vine

Chic restaurant and lounge at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. "farm-to-table" approach, California cuisine.

EAT   —  1700 Ocean Ave

Oceana Santa Monica

Oceana Santa Monica is a boutique hotel featuring a restaurant open only to guests.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 393-0486 —  849 Ocean Ave

Shangri-la Hotel

The Shangri-la Hotel has huge rooms, ocean views, and free parking for guests.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 394-2791 —  1301 Ocean Ave


Wokcano offers indoor and outdoors seating in a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

DRINK   —  +1 310-458-3080 —  1413 5th St

Wyndam Santa Monica

Hotel is quaint, comfortable and some rooms have a partial ocean view.

SLEEP   —  +1 310 451-0676 —  120 Colorado Ave

Library Ale House

Carries lots of interesting beer on tap. Food is mid-scale pub style.

DRINK   —  2911 Main St

Bergamot Station Arts Center

Over 30 art galleries, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Bagel Nosh Deli

Serving breakfast, lunch, and hand-rolled bagels since 1978.

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

A beachfront resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

SLEEP   —  1700 Ocean Ave

The Fairmont

A great hotel, but it only has ocean views.

About Santa Monica

Santa Monica was originally developed as a seaside retreat at the turn of the 20th century. The railroad owners built the first version of the amusement park on Santa Monica pier as an attraction to fill empty train seats on weekends. Santa Monica grew into an urban, eclectic, and prosperous beach city whose real estate values are amongst the most pricey in the world. Santa Monica is a very desirable city whose people are drawn to its accessibility and its progressiveness as a community. Today, Santa Monica is a mixture of very affluent, single-family neighborhoods, renters drawn by the high quality of life, lifelong surfers, young professionals and students.

Tourists visiting the Los Angeles region will find Santa Monica one of the best situated locations to base their trip. There are plenty of hotel, restaurant and entertainment options, as well as close accessibility to major sights like Venice Beach, Malibu and Beverly Hills. Visitors can also take advantage of the beach cities' moderate climate; during the summer and fall, as the mercury soars to 100 in the San Fernando Valley and 90 downtown, Santa Monica usually remains at a very comfortable 75 degrees.

Santa Monica has three Visitor Information Centers that feature experienced Travel Counselors, foreign language line, tickets to area attractions and free visitor information on attractions, hotels, dining, museums, galleries and entertainment.

Source: wikivoyage