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, these are 10 Santa Monica attractions and things to do here that you won't want to miss.
Bike riding at the beach is hands-down one of the best Santa Monica attractions - and one of the best ways to enjoy a day in Santa Monica.
The popular 26-mile bike route know as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail starts in Santa Monica and ends at Torrance State Beach. (Get the Marvin Braude Bike Route Map.)
You can pedal past popular surf breaks along Santa Monica state Beach, underneath the Santa Monica Pier, and by the original Muscle Beach just south of the pier; and the other Muscle Beach in neighboring Venice.
The Santa Monica Bike Center is a great place to get started: Here's you'll find rental bikes ranging from beach cruisers, electric, and Elliptigo bikes to Taga trike strollers and tandem bikes.
The Santa Monica Boardwalk begins beneath the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. The wide, paved footpath on Ocean Front Walk extends south from the Pier and is lined with shops and restaurants.
The kids will love the stone-walled sandbox with a concrete Viking ship in its midst. An interactive dragon's head looming in the grass nearby rounds out this children's attraction.
But don't stop there - there are hotels, beach volleyball courts and much more to see along the sand, including the International Chess Park, with public chess tables and a human-scale chessboard set into the sidewalk.
The farmer's markets are highlights of the week for locals. There are two locations: the 3rd Street Promenade on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and on Main Street on Sunday.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, 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 the largest percentage of certified-organic growers, along with Saturday menu options from downtown Santa Monica restaurants. On Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. you'll find the farmer's market at 2640 Main Street, featuring fresh organic produce and live, kid-friendly bands and interactive activities like face painting.
Located at the foot of Colorado Avenue, through the famous arch and sign, lies the historic Santa Monica Pier, which dates from 1909.
The Pier has a National Historic Landmark - the 1922 Loof Hippodrome Carousel that definitely warrants a visit, especially if you're traveling with children. You can also check out the street performers along the boardwalk, or snag a stick of puffy cotton candy.
The views of neighboring Malibu and the South Bay are pretty amazing and make for the perfect place to watch the sun set.
Heal the Bay's Santa Monica 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.
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.
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, an historic pool - there's something for everyone to do here. You can get more information at the Annenberg Beach House website.
I'll bet you thought Muscle Beach in Venice was the original. Nope. That honor goes to Santa Monica, 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.
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.
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.
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!