Interesting Things to Do in Santa Monica

Interesting Things to Do in Santa Monica

Santa Monica, nestled along the picturesque coastline of Southern California, offers a plethora of attractions and activities to suit every traveler’s taste. From its iconic pier to its vibrant shopping districts and cultural landmarks, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this charming beachside city. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or a culture seeker, Santa Monica has something for everyone. Here’s a comprehensive guide to some of the most interesting things to do in Santa Monica.

Explore the Historic Santa Monica Pier

Why Visit: As one of the most iconic landmarks in Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier offers a blend of amusement park fun, stunning ocean views, and a rich history dating back over a century.

What to Do:

  • Ride the Ferris Wheel: Take a spin on the Pacific Wheel, offering panoramic views of the coastline and beyond.
  • Visit Pacific Park: Enjoy classic amusement park rides and games for all ages.
  • Explore the Aquarium: Get up close with marine life at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, featuring interactive exhibits and educational programs.
  • Indulge in Pier Eats: Sample delicious snacks and treats from various vendors along the pier, including fresh seafood and sweet treats like churros and ice cream.

Stroll Along Santa Monica Beach

Why Visit: Santa Monica Beach is renowned for its pristine sandy shores, ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and beach volleyball, making it a must-visit destination for beach lovers.

What to Do:

  • Sunbathe and Swim: Relax on the soft sands of Santa Monica Beach and take a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Play Beach Volleyball: Join a pickup game or watch seasoned players showcase their skills on the designated volleyball courts.
  • Rent Bikes or Rollerblades: Explore the beachfront bike path, stretching from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, by renting bicycles or rollerblades from various rental shops nearby.
  • Catch a Sunset: Experience the breathtaking beauty of a Santa Monica sunset, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink as the sun dips below the horizon.

Shop and Dine at Third Street Promenade

Why Visit: Third Street Promenade is a bustling pedestrian street filled with shops, restaurants, street performers, and entertainment options, offering a vibrant atmosphere day and night.

What to Do:

  • Shop Till You Drop: Browse through a diverse array of retail stores, ranging from popular brands to local boutiques, selling everything from clothing and accessories to souvenirs and gifts.
  • Dine Al Fresco: Enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many outdoor cafes and restaurants lining the promenade, offering diverse cuisine options to satisfy every palate.
  • Catch a Street Performance: Be entertained by talented street performers showcasing their skills in music, magic, and more along the promenade.
  • Attend Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for special events and festivals hosted on Third Street Promenade throughout the year, featuring live music, art exhibitions, and cultural celebrations.

Visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Why Visit: Operated by Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium offers a unique opportunity to explore the marine life of the Santa Monica Bay through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

What to Do:

  • Discover Local Marine Life: Explore exhibits showcasing the diverse marine ecosystems of the Santa Monica Bay, including tide pools, kelp forests, and sandy beaches.
  • Attend Educational Programs: Participate in hands-on activities, guided tours, and educational workshops led by marine biologists and educators.
  • Support Conservation Efforts: Learn about the importance of ocean conservation and how you can help protect marine habitats and species through sustainable practices.
  • Enjoy Family-Friendly Fun: Bring the whole family for a day of learning and discovery, with special activities designed for children of all ages.

Explore the Santa Monica Mountains

Why Visit: Just a short drive from the city center, the Santa Monica Mountains offer a serene escape into nature, with hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and wildlife sightings awaiting outdoor enthusiasts.

What to Do:

  • Hike Through Nature: Lace up your hiking boots and explore a network of trails winding through the rugged terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging summit hikes.
  • Picnic with a View: Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch amidst stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and coastline from designated picnic areas.
  • Go Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for native wildlife such as deer, coyotes, birds, and even the occasional bobcat or mountain lion while exploring the mountains.
  • Photograph the Scenery: Capture the beauty of the natural landscape with your camera, with plenty of scenic vistas and photo opportunities along the way.

Experience the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

Why Visit: The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market is a bustling hub of local farmers, artisans, and food vendors, offering fresh produce, artisanal goods, and culinary delights in a vibrant outdoor setting.

What to Do:

  • Shop for Fresh Produce: Browse through stalls brimming with seasonal fruits and vegetables, sourced directly from local farms and growers, and pick up fresh ingredients for your own culinary creations.
  • Sample Artisanal Goods: Indulge your taste buds with a variety of artisanal cheeses, baked goods, preserves, and other gourmet treats crafted by local artisans and food producers.
  • Enjoy Street Food: Savor the flavors of Santa Monica with a diverse selection of street food vendors offering everything from tacos and pupusas to gourmet sandwiches and international cuisine.
  • Experience Live Music and Entertainment: Be serenaded by local musicians and street performers as you wander through the market, creating a lively and festive atmosphere for shoppers and visitors alike.

Discover Cultural Landmarks

Why Visit: Santa Monica is home to a rich cultural heritage, with a variety of landmarks and attractions celebrating its history, art, and architecture, providing visitors with insight into the city’s past and present.

What to Do:

  • Visit the Annenberg Community Beach House: Explore the historic Marion Davies Guest House, once owned by actress Marion Davies, and enjoy recreational facilities including swimming pools, beach volleyball courts, and a playground.
  • Tour the Santa Monica History Museum: Learn about the history and evolution of Santa Monica through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and archival photographs housed in the museum located in the historic Santa Monica Main Post Office building.
  • Admire Public Art Installations: Take a self-guided tour of public art installations scattered throughout Santa Monica, including sculptures, murals, and street art, adding color and creativity to the cityscape.
  • Attend Cultural Events: Immerse yourself in Santa Monica’s vibrant arts and culture scene by attending performances, exhibitions, and cultural events hosted by local theaters, galleries, and community organizations.


Santa Monica offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests, from its iconic pier and pristine beaches to its vibrant shopping districts, cultural landmarks, and outdoor adventures in the nearby mountains. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, explore the local culture, or simply enjoy some leisurely strolls along the beach, Santa Monica has something to offer everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover all that this charming beachside city has to offer on your next adventure!

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