You’ll immediately fall in love with Santa Monica, the premier beach city in Los Angeles. It’s where locals and tourists flock for tanning, to stroll along the sand or to shop on the Third Street Promenade. Neighborhood pockets like Montana Avenue are abundant with charming cafés, and the Santa Monica Pier is a historic landmark with Pacific Park that draws large crowds. From food (let’s not forget its popular Farmers Market) to shopping at Santa Monica Place and entertainment, “SaMo” has everything you would want as a tourist.
Santa Monica Pier
No visit to Santa Monica is complete without taking a walk on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier! You not only catch one-of-a-kind views of the coastline, but you can also have hours of fun at the amusement park on the pier, Pacific Park. Ride the roller coaster or the ferris wheel that towers high above the water, or try your luck at several carnival games and arcades. The historic, 1922 gilded carousel is also worth visiting, located inside the historic Hippodrome on the pier. Of note, scenes from the 1973 movie, “The Sting,” were filmed here. Street performers line the pier, especially during the summer – which also includes an outdoor concert series. For more information, visit the Santa Monica Pier website.
Third Street Promenade
After the Santa Monica Pier, the most famous spot for tourism is Third Street Promenade. This outdoor mall features shops galore — from popular brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, and Diesel to boutique stores. Several great restaurants such as 1212 Santa Monica, Trastevere and Locando del Lago are also part of Third Street Promenade’s dining scene. You can spend hours enjoying shopping and Santa Monica’s great weather and ambiance on “the Promenade.” This includes the famous Farmer’s Market held on the promenade featuring the tastiest of locally grown foods from farms throughout Southern California. For more information and directions, visit the Third Street Promenade website.
Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica Place is one of L.A.’s most upscale shopping malls. You will find stores like Swarovski, Tiffany, Michael Kors and Nordstrom at this charming, yet modern outdoor mall. Many people enjoy visiting the Nike flagship location here as well, or having a meal with an amazing view on its upper-level dining deck. It is perhaps the only mall where you can eat and watch the sun set over the ocean. Santa Monica Place is conveniently located at the south end of Third Street Promenade. For more information and directions visit the Santa Monica Place website.
Santa Monica State Beach
Looking to take a dip in one of L.A.’s most popular beaches? Then head to the coastline off Ocean Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. Santa Monica Beach is a 3.5 mile span, with coastline stretching from Malibu’s Will Rogers State Beach on the north to Venice Beach on the south. So, there are plenty of spots to swim or catch a tan. You can also try out your volleyball game, or even chess, out of all things, at the International Chess Park, located near the famous pier! Fore more information, visit the Santa Monica State Beach website.
Gentle breezes, palm tree-lined streets, and people-watching – not to mention yoga in the park – are all things you can enjoy at Palisades Park! This 1.5 miles stretch along Ocean Avenue also has towering views of the beach below, and is an idea place for any outdoor activity. Plenty of people choose Palisades Park for their daily jogs, and it also has numerous spots to picnic or take a break from a busy day. The best time to visit is perhaps sunset – as people line the edge of the park for breathtaking views of the sunset. For more information and directions, visit the Palisades Park website.
California Heritage Museum
Visit one of Santa Monica’s only surviving, historic Victorian mansions (built in 1894) to celebrate local art and history. The museum prides itself on featuring exhibits, shows, and discussions about local artists. Currently, you can find the “Rock & Roll Legends” exhibit ongoing until July 2018. For more information including directions, visit the California Heritage Museum website.
Montana Avenue, from Lincoln Boulevard to 17th street is abundant with cafés, eateries, and boutiques for a pleasant and low-key Santa Monica afternoon. R+D Kitchen and Father’s Office are some of the popular places to eat on Montana Avenue. You can also find everything from custom jewelry to handmade yoga apparel in the boutique shops that line the street. For more information and directions, visit the Montana Avenue website.
Main Photo: Santa Monica Pier, Photo courtesy of Courtney Gaye, Flickr