Top 10 Santa Monica Attractions

There are so many great Santa Monica attractions to visit, National Geographic named it one of the Top 10 Beach Cities in the World.

From bike riding at the beach to perusing the farm-fresh organic produce at the twice- weekly farmer's markets, here are 10 of the Top Santa Monica Attractions.

  1.    Bike Riding at the Beach

Bike riding at the beach is hands-down one of most enjoyable Santa Monica attractions - and one of the best ways to enjoy a beach day.

And one of the best beach bike riding routes is the 26-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

It starts in northern Santa Monica and ends at Torrance State Beach to the south. (Get the Marvin Braude Bike Route Map.)

You can pedal past popular surf breaks along Santa Monica State Beach, beneath the Santa Monica Pier, and past the original Muscle Beach just south of the pier; and then continue south to check out the other Muscle Beach in neighboring Venice. 

The Santa Monica Bike Center is a great place to get started for the treks ahead. Here you'll find rental bikes ranging from beach cruisers, electric and Elliptigo, to Taga trike strollers and tandem bikes.

  2.   Take a Walk on the Santa Monica Boardwalk

A walk along the Santa Monica boardwalk is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Santa Monica. The wide, paved boardwalk footpath begins on Ocean Front Walk beneath the world-famous Santa Monica Pier and meanders south from the Pier toward the city of Venice.

Beyond the beach views, gentle surf, and bustling Pier, the boardwalk is lined with a fun and funky mix of local shops and quick-stop restaurants.

Also, you'll be strolling past some of Santa Monica's top hotels, the usually busy beach volleyball courts, and the International Chess Park, with public chess tables and a human-scale chessboard set into the sidewalk. Of all Santa Monica attractions, this is one of the tops for photo ops. Bring your selfie stick!

  3.   Get Fresh at the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays

The twice-weekly farmer's markets are a highlight for locals and visitors. There are two Farmer's Market locations: the 3rd Street Promenade on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and on Main Street on Sunday.

The Farmer's Market at the 3rd Street Promenade on Wednesdays and Saturdays features more than 75 farmers spread out over four blocks along Arizona Avenue between 4th and Ocean Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Here, you'll find a large selection of fresh produce from certified-organic growers. And on Saturdays, downtown Santa Monica restaurants set up booths as well featuring favorite selections from their menus.

On Sundays, the Farmer's Market is a few blocks south and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. At this once a week market at 2640 Main Street, you'll find both the fresh organic produce and select menu offerings from Main Street restaurants on the same day. And you'll also find the market alive with the sights and sounds of live, kid-friendly bands and interactive activities like face painting. 

  4.   Visit Santa Monica Pier

At the foot of Colorado Avenue, through the iconic arch and sign, lies the historic Santa Monica Pier, amusement park, arcade and more.

The Pier is home to its very own National Historic Landmark - the 1922 Loof Hippodrome Carousel that warrants a visit, especially if you're traveling with children.

You can also check out the street performers along the Pier, snag a stick of puffy cotton candy, or grab lunch or dinner at one of the Pier Restaurants. This one easy way to see top Santa Monica attractions.

  5.   See Pacific Ocean Locals at Heal the Bay Aquarium

Heal the Bay Aquarium is where the community and visitors alike learn about the more than 100 species of marine animals and plants that call Santa Monica Bay home.

Featuring hands-on presentations and interactive exhibits, the Aquarium is part of Santa Monica's own "Heal the Bay" program, an initiative to educate, inspire, and empower its visitors to be good stewards of the environment. You'll find it on the beach level at the historic Santa Monica Pier. 

  6.  Take a Stroll Along the Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is a shopper's paradise - and even provides street entertainment on the walk between stores.

At the south end of the Promenade is a second shopping mall - Santa Monica Place - that has some of Santa Monica's best upscale shops, including Nordstroms and Tiffany's as well as a huge Nike shop.

The best route for shopping the Promenade and Santa Monica Place?

Start at the top of the pedestrian-only Promenade at 3rd Street and Wilshire Blvd., and continue south three blocks to Broadway, the entrance to Santa Monica Place.

  7.   Spend a Day at the Annenberg Beach House

The Annenberg Beach house is a unique Santa Monica destination, open to all, no membership required. With spectacular beach views, a children's playground and splash pad, art gallery, the Marion Davies, Guest House, beach courts and fields, a historic pool - there's something for everyone to do here. You can get more information at the Annenberg Beach House website.

  8.   Flex Your Muscles at the Original Muscle Beach

I'll bet you thought Muscle Beach in Venice was the original. Nope.

That honor goes to Santa Monica,the  birthplace of the 20th-century physical fitness boom.

Located on the south side of the Santa Monica Pier, the original Muscle Beach was established in the early 1930s and quickly morphed from a few tumbling mats and gymnastics bars to the epicenter of the 20th century's growing fitness movement.

Today, the open-air collection of rings and bars, and other properly retro equipment is as popular as ever.

  9.   Amuse Yourself at Pacific Park

Pacific Park, Santa Monica on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, features the 5-story West Coaster roller coaster, the 9-story Pacific Plunge tower ride, and the nine-story Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel - the only over-water Ferris wheel in California, and the first solar-powered wheel in the world.

  10.  Attend An Event or Activity

There's always something going on in Santa Monica. It's a city in constant motion - and that translates to lots of special events - especially at Santa Monica's top attractions. The Santa Monica Pier is home to the Twilight Concert Series and Pier Movies - free events held each summer and fall. You can get information on Santa Monica events here.

Wrapping Up on Santa Monica Attractions

These top 10 Santa Monica attractions are just a few of the things to see and do in Santa Monica. There are so many more great places in our beachside city for you to explore!

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