Welcome to Santa Monica Beaches

An Insiders Guide to Santa Monica
From Someone Who Lives Here

Welcome to Santamonicabeaches.com, an insider's guide to the highlights and points of interest that make this California beach town with big-city sophistication unlike anywhere else in the world.

I want you to enjoy this 8.3 square mile oceanfront city as much as I do, hence this guide to the best of everything there is to see and do here. It covers Santa Monica and beyond and is the perfect tool to help you plan an unforgettable vacation. 

As Santa Monica opens up following the pandemic and lockdown, I continue to update information on the best things to do and ways to enjoy the city. 

With its incomparable oceanfront setting, world-class dining, and vibrant cultural scene, Santa Monica combines the laid-back appeal of a classic California beach town with big-city sophistication to create a destination that is a world away from ordinary. 

Browse through the site to get some ideas for fun things to do in Santa Monica. First-timers, repeat visitors, and locals, welcome!

Things to See & Do in Santa Monica

Many visitors to Santa Monica come because of the beach. Besides lounging on Santa Monica State beach, Santa Monica attractions not to be missed include the iconic Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Wheel, the world's first and only solar-powered ferris wheel. It also provides riders with spectacular views of the Santa Monica coastline. 

You can also get the blood flowing with a beach bike ride south to Venice beach, swimming, surfing, parasailing, paddle surfing, playing basketball or tennis - the list goes on and on.

Even the original Muscle Beach (the Muscle Beach to the south in Venice Beach) came after our city's original, outdoor, gymnastics-based equipment workout area. In short: There are plenty of activities to choose from that will keep even the most active of bodies busy.

Santa Monica Beach Hotels 

Santa Monica is home to some of the most unique, celebrated hotels in all of Southern California. Santa Monica hotels are all within four miles of the ocean, with most adjacent to or walking distance of the beach. 

The Santa Monica hotel collection has a wide variety of accommodations from luxury to budget and offers a central location to greater Los Angeles. Santa Monica hotels are also near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), downtown LA, and Hollywood.

Many of the hotels offer oceans views and are within walking distance from Santa Monica's beach, Pier, shopping, dining, and leisure activities. 

You've probably heard about the scary prices hotels in Santa Monica charge. If you're on a limited budget, you may feel like you'll be left out in the cold (or, instead, the warmth) in Santa Monica.

While Santa Monica is famous for its expensive beach hotels with ocean view rooms, the truth is that there are cheap hotels to be found along Santa Monica beaches, too - and some are even steps from the sand. Many have ocean view rooms as well.

Santa Monica Nightlife

Nightlife in Santa Monica is relaxed, compared to downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood, with outdoor patios, live music, bars and lounges, and endless happy hour offerings - maintaining the beachside feel into the evening.

With everything from dive bars to upscale lounges and live music venues, Santa Monica's nightlife scene has something for every kind of nightlife-goers.

Unlike other parts of Los Angeles nightlife, where table service and being on a club promoter's list determines where you're going and when you're getting in, Santa Monica's nightlife scene is much more relaxed, both in atmosphere and expectations for dress.

The dress code, in general, is much more casual (it's the beach!), and getting in depends less on who you know and more on what time you arrive. 

Whether you're looking for a rooftop bar, live music, a dance club, or just a cool place to hang out and grab a drink - nightlife in Santa Monica delivers. 

Santa Monica Restaurants

Santa Monica emerged as an international culinary destination in the 1980s and has remained in the top echelon of American dining thanks to its many celebrity chefs and the new generation of culinary innovators who continue to invigorate the city's dining scene.

Santa Monica was at the vanguard of the local foods movement long before it became mainstream. The use of sustainable, organic ingredients is central to the cooking approach of leading chefs around town. 

As a result, the local restaurants offer some of the country's freshest and most varied dining options. From Organic, vegetarian fare, and California fusion to fresh seafood and top-rated steaks, there are options for every palate, taste, and budget. 

Santa Monica Shopping

Just a few blocks east of the Pier, Santa Monica's downtown hub is a destination for shoppers looking for everything from designer duds to home decor. 

Santa Monica's tempting collection of global retail brands, Haute boutiques, and unique local offerings has turned the beachside city into an internationally celebrated shopping destination. 

From downtown's Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place to upscale boutiques along the celebrity-filled Montana Avenue and the fun, eclectic mix on Main Street, a day of shopping in Santa Monica offers something for everyone. 

Santa Monica Beaches

Our very first impression, the beaches, is still what defines Santa Monica. Here's an aerial view:



Upcoming Events

Santa Monica is well-known for its festivals, street fairs, and other community activities throughout the year.  While you are here, find the best events each month on the Santa Monica Events calendar.