15 Best Things To Do in Santa Monica
If you have recently moved to Santa Monica in California, or have decided to pay a visit to the sandy, coastal city in the west of downtown Los Angeles, be assured there are quite a few places you can feast your eyes on. The city is home to the iconic Santa Monica Pier, and some beaches overlooking the azure blue waters of the Pacific. Dominated by palms and promenades, the opportunities for enjoying your weekend here are as endless as the sunshine on Santa Monica. If you find yourself soaking in the brilliant sun of the beaches of Santa Monica anytime soon, go through this 15 best places to visit in Santa Monica and explore best tourist attractions in Santa Monica.
Here's the list of Santa Monica points of interest and 15 best things to do in Santa Monica:
1. Visit the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is the most famous location in the history of Santa Monica. The century-old wooden pier overlooks the vast expanse of the Pacific ahead and offers a picturesque view from the pier. The spot has made recurring appearances in numerous TV shows and movies. There are other attractions on the pier, but the place itself, with the small shops and scattered cafes, is a great venue to spend some time.
2. Take rides at Pacific Park
Pacific Park sets a year-long festive feel to the city of Santa Monica. The carnival is on 365 days with fun family games, large carousels, an exciting roller coaster that takes you high up enough to see the ocean and also the gigantic Ferris wheel. This particular one is the world’s only solar power-run Ferris wheel. So Pacific Park is not only providing you with entertainment, it is taking care of the environment as well.
3. Explore the Santa Monica Aquarium
Directly beneath the Pacific Park on the pier, the Pier Aquarium is an absolute delight for those who love animals. You can experience from close quarters how sea creatures like sea urchins, sea stars and some others look, move, eat and live. There is a shark in the aquarium as well. Remember to take a close look at it while you are there.
4. Enjoy the Santa Monica State Bea
The Santa Monica State Beach is the first place you should visit once you step into the sunny city. It stretches for three and a half miles on both sides of the Santa Monica Pier. With warm, grainy sand, scattered palm trees and frequent sunbathing spots, you can spend hours on this lovely beach and not get tired of the sea, sand and sun. Additionally, there are volleyball courts, water sports rentals, bike rentals and manned lifeguard stations for all sorts of convenience.
5. Take a walk along the busy Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade is the lifeline of Santa Monica. The palm-lined district is closed off to vehicles so that pedestrian tourists can roam around freely enjoying the plethora of shopping destinations, eating places, cafes, clubs and bistros that are scattered across the promenade. No matter what else you do, a visit to the Third Street Promenade is must catch the pulse of the bustling Santa Monica.
6. Go organic with Santa Monica Farmer’s Market
The Santa Monica Farmers Market is a traditional organic mart that takes place in two locations on Saturdays, and one each on Sundays and Wednesdays. The market is famous all-over America for the fresh, farm-grown products they sell throughout the year, along with locally harvested meat, fish and cheese. The best part of the market is, the commodities are all seasonal and fresh, and their price varies depending on demand and availability.
7. Pay a visit to the Camera Obscura
You will not find the mention of Camera Obscura in the modern tour plans of Santa Monica, but once it used to be a great attraction. Beside the Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue, in a building called Senior Recreation Center, there is this attraction called Camera Obscura. It is a camera set in a dark room that offers a grainy, but fascinating view of the cacophonous traffic, the beach, the people and the ocean that you just left behind, but without all the noise. It is a vintage spot, and worth visiting once.
8. Learn about aviation in the Museum of Flying
Located near the Santa Monica Airport, the Museum of Flying is a 22,000 square foot area exhibiting an array of display items and collectables related to the emergence, evolution and expansion of the aviation industry. The exhibits include the Wright Flyer and a Boeing 727 nosepiece. Do remember to enjoy the interactive flight simulator guided by the staff.
9. Go trekking in the Santa Monica Mountains
The Santa Monica Mountains rise from just behind the city. Take some time out of your scheduled itinerary and spare a day for trekking the walking trails of the mountains. There are about 20 parks in the region, offering various recreational opportunities and great camping sights.
10. Satiate your sweet tooth at the Three Twins
Three Twins is a popular ice cream chain, but the shop in Santa Monica is a favourite haunt of the locals as well as the tourists. Their ice creams are completely organic, and feel very authentic to taste. Grab a bench and enjoy a cone before the scorching Santa Monica sun melts it.
11. Climb up the Santa Monica Stairs
This is a simple affair compared to the rest of them, but some places just gain that sort of popularity. The Santa Monica Stairs are two flights of staircases running up to the Adelaide Drive. Many people prefer this place for a quick morning workout, running up and down the stairs. You can do that, or you can walk slowly up the stairs and enjoy the view of the ocean from the drive at the top.
12. Relax at the Palisades Park
With the shades of big trees, patches of greenery and art and sculpture installations, the Palisades Park is a relief from the heat of the beach in front and the crowd of the Promenade behind. You can spend some quiet time here to enjoy a picnic or have something from the food trucks that stay stationed here.
13. Visit the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome
Adjacent to the Pier, there is a large open-air building called the Looff Hippodrome. Do not get fooled by the name, since hippodrome originally means a Grecian stadium for horse and chariot racing. The etymology of this site is metaphorical since the dome was built by a person called Charles I.D. Looff and his son to start a giant carousel in around 1916.
14. Click photos at the International Chess Park
The Ocean Front Walkway will lead you to this small park with a human-sized chess board and chess pieces. Play with the big figures and pose along with the king or the knight for fun. This is a photoshoot that should certainly go into your holiday album. You can also settle down and play a few rounds in the actual boards.
15. Go down the memory lane at Angel City Books, Main Street
The Angel City Books on the Main Street is quite an impressive shop, selling everything from old classics to new bestsellers. But the bigger attraction is their huge collection of vinyl records, which are almost a collector’s item nowadays. For the lovers of books and music, this place should be on the list of 15 best things to do in Santa Monica.
Given that the city of Santa Monica is only a few minutes drive away from Hollywood, it is one of the most iconic places you can ever find in California. You might even spot a few places you have seen on the screen. Make sure to take pictures, and make your friends envious.