People complain about the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, but that malaise seems to magically dissipate when you visit Santa Monica. On the west side of Los Angeles, just above the heavily tattooed, offbeat scene of Venice Beach and just below the please-no-photographs exclusivity of Malibu, sits this charming beach community. You'll still have excellent odds of seeing someone famous, or at least someone who seems like they could be famous. But the walkable community also has excellent shopping, cuisine, dining, and, thanks to the amusement park on the Pier, a round-the-clock atmosphere of civilized festivity.
Things Not to Miss in Santa Monica
Read our Santa Monica travel guide to explore this pocket of SoCal perfection, including some of the most popular attractions:
• The amusement park at the Santa Monica Pier
• Shopping along Montana Avenue
• Walking the beach paths
• The Annenberg Community Beach House
When to Go to Santa Monica
Like the rest of Southern California, variations among the four seasons are minimal; you can experience a forecast of sunny and 70 degrees at any time of year. But here are some factors to consider:
• The Santa Monica travel season peaks in summer, both in terms of crowds and prices. June, however, may be an exception: the regular occurrence of fog this time of year (locals call it June Gloom) means some days can be too chilly for swimming.
• Early fall is an excellent time to travel to Santa Monica; prices drop a little, but you often have a better chance of seeing 80-degree-and-above temperatures for beach days. The only weather risk comes from the Santa Ana winds, which can be strong.
• Winter and early spring carry the highest likelihood of rain and cooler temperatures – sometimes it's downright chilly at night – but the season also has the lowest travel prices.