There are so many things to do in Santa Monica California, from world-class beaches and a famous pier to scenic parks and family-friendly attractions.
If you’re visiting with the kids, make sure to head to Pacific Park, where you can explore a wide range of rides, games, restaurants and souvenir shops. Or, take a stroll on the Marvin Braude Beach Trail and soak up a spectacular view of the coastline.
1. Take a Walk on the Beach
If you’re a beach fan, you won’t want to miss a walk on the sandy shores of Santa Monica. This iconic city has miles of coastline, making it a top destination for both locals and visitors alike.
There are many options for taking a stroll on the oceanfront, including Original Muscle Beach featuring gymnastic equipment for kids and adults. You can also head to the Santa Monica Pier for fun entertainment and a variety of rides, including roller coasters, maybe even some live country music.
Another popular option is to walk or ride the Marvin Braude bike path that runs along the shoreline and offers a chance to get in some exercise while you’re at it. You can also take a break and watch the sunset from Gladstones Restaurant.
2. Shop on Third Street Promenade
Located a few blocks east of the Santa Monica Pier, downtown’s three-block Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-only shopping, entertainment and dining paradise. Shop at luxury retailers, designer fashions and specialty stores; eat in open-air eateries and catch the latest street performers such as some stand up comedy.
Originally called the Santa Monica Mall, the Third Street Promenade was closed off to car traffic in 1965 to create a pedestrian-friendly space for shopping, dining and entertainment. It is now a popular destination for tourists from across the world.
The promenade is also home to a few movie theaters and offers a wide array of restaurants that serve everything from burgers and fries to gourmet pizza and French cuisine. A farmers market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, bringing in local produce from the region’s farms.
3. Visit the Santa Monica Pier
Originally built in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles. It features an amusement park, a vintage carousel, and a museum.
During the day, visitors can ride a Ferris wheel or roller coaster, watch street performances and eat at a variety of eateries. However, the pier’s most captivating moments are during sunset or when it comes alive with free concerts and outdoor movies.
In addition to the amusement park, the pier also features an aquarium. The Heal the Bay Aquarium, located in the lower level of the pier, offers touch tanks with hermit crabs and sea urchins, a kelp forest and aquariums full of jelly fish and sharks.
4. Go to the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is the place to go if you want to see some incredible marine life. It is home to a variety of different sea animals, including penguins and whales.
A day at the aquarium is sure to provide a fun and educational experience for your kids. You will learn about the different species and the environment that surrounds them.
You will also be able to enjoy hands on activities. For example, you can take a trip to the Moon Jelly Touch exhibit and see how these jellyfish change their appearance as they are touched.
You will also be able to visit the Lorikeet Forest aviary and feed these colorful birds. In addition, you can take a trip to the Discovery Tidepool and see a variety of coastal creatures.
5. Visit the Museum of Flying
The Museum of Flying is one of the best things to do in Santa Monica if you’re an aviation buff. It’s located right at the Santa Monica Airport, and it has a collection of vintage planes that are sure to impress.
The museum is a great place to learn about aviation and Douglas planes, as well as the history of flying in Southern California. There are a number of airplanes on display, and the museum also has docents available to provide additional information about the planes.
The museum is also home to a number of interesting artifacts and documents, including space-age memorabilia and a moon rock. The museum is open daily most of the year and you can explore it on your own or with a docent.