Santa Monica

Santa Monica Travel Guide

Santa Monica makes a scenic and comfortable launching pad for anything you might want to do in the Los Angeles area, whether you're taking a day trip to Disneyland, exploring Hollywood or seeing the Knicks play during basketball season. But there are some things to do in Santa Monica and its environs as well:

Make the most of the Pier. The small but refreshingly old school amusement park in the Santa Monica Pier is open year round. On Thursday nights in the summer, you can also enjoy free concerts from 7 until 10 p.m.
Walk down to Venice Beach. One of the nicest things to do in Santa Monica is to walk down the beachside paths. Venice's street performers, boardwalk-style cuisine and the attention-seeking folks at Muscle Beach make for a festive afternoon.
Venture into Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills is a short drive east, where Rodeo Drive and the surrounding neighborhoods are a feast for the eyes and a nice way to feel like you're paying bargain prices back in Santa Monica.
Shop. The Third Street Promenade hosts a mix of national and SoCal chains (need some surf gear?) as well as fountains and street performers, but you will find quirkier options (and more locals) on Main Street and Montana Ave.
People-watch at the farmers market. Even if you're not cooking during your vacation, this is a great place to pick up some delicious fresh-fruit snacks, like Rainier cherries in the summer, and also do some prime people watching, as local celebrity chefs are known to shop here.
Lounge at the Annenberg Community Beach House. The private beachfront estate, which William Randolph Hearst had built for actress Marion Davies, is now a public beach with a play area for children, as well as sand-sports courts and a pool.
Plan a kid-friendly outing. If you're looking for things to do in Santa Monica with your kids, besides just playing on the beach and the Pier, visit the Santa Monica Aquarium. You can also rent bikes and pedal along the beach paths.

Formerly a private beachfront estate that William Randolph Hearst built for actress Marion Davies, the Annenberg Community Beach House is now open to the public as a place to enjoy the Santa Monica sand in style.

A recent revamp turned this once-indoor mall at the edge of the popular Third Street Promenade into a hip, open-air shopping and dining experience.

This “secret” subterranean bar is hidden below a popular wedding and events venue and offers a sultry speakeasy vibe for cocktailing and live music. The entrance—through the parking lot behind The Victorian and down a flight of stairs—is appropriately hard to find.

The Spread: The biggest and oldest of Santa Monica's weekly markets (there are three others) is this Wednesday gathering downtown.

In a suburb comprising mostly low-level shops and two-story homes, this ultramodern 18th-floor hotel bar is an unexpected gem.

Just around the corner from the Third Street Promenade, this cocktail lounge caters to a more mature crowd than its neighboring sports bars and pubs.

Years as Agent: 27. Specialties: Switzerland, winter sports. Fee: From $175.

Near the western terminus of historic Route 66, this old-timey seaside amusement park has an enduring, if kitschy, popularity. Untold thousands of parents have been dragged by their children toward the Ferris wheel that sparkles at night above the nearly century-old pier.

Vodka specialists

Perhaps the most unusual designee in this year’s 10 Best Public Spaces, this 3.5-mile stretch of public beach just west of Los Angeles draws millions of people annually to watch sunsets, stroll along the beachfront paths, sunbathe, people-watch, listen to musicians, surf, or ride the 1920's carou

Shopping at this distinctive market is like raiding a large, elegant estate sale. You'll find everything to lavishly feather your nest, from shabby chic and mid-century modern furnishings to chandeliers and candelabra to exotic plants and tribal art.

Learn to Surf provides group and private lessons from Malibu to Manhattan Beach, year-round. Santa Monica’s Lifeguard Tower 18 is home to Surf Camp. That’s where certified instructors teach kids age seven to 17 to surf during spring and summer breaks.

Isn’t the very idea—a LEED_certified parking garage—oxymoronic and perverse?Architect James Mary O'Connor's firm, Moore Ruble Yudell, talked the Santa Monica City Council into incorporating a bit of virtue into the 900-car building.