Interesting Things to Do in Santa Monica, CA

Interesting Things to Do in Santa Monica, CA

Explore the Iconic Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is an iconic landmark that offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. From amusement park rides and arcade games to street performers and delicious food vendors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on this historic pier.

  • Ride the Ferris Wheel: Take a ride on the Pacific Wheel, a solar-powered Ferris wheel that offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding area.
  • Visit the Aquarium: Explore the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, where you can see a variety of marine life native to the California coast, including sharks, rays, and octopuses.
  • Enjoy Street Performers: Wander along the pier and catch a glimpse of talented street performers showcasing their skills, from musicians and magicians to jugglers and dancers.
  • Indulge in Local Cuisine: Treat yourself to classic carnival snacks like funnel cakes and cotton candy, or sample fresh seafood at one of the pier’s many restaurants.

Soak Up the Sun at Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach is renowned for its pristine shoreline, golden sands, and year-round sunny weather. Whether you’re looking to relax and soak up the sun or engage in water sports and recreational activities, this beach has it all.

  • Sunbathing and Swimming: Spread out your towel and bask in the California sunshine, or take a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean to cool off from the heat.
  • Surfing and Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Rent a surfboard or a stand-up paddleboard from one of the local rental shops and ride the waves like a pro.
  • Beach Volleyball: Join a pickup game of beach volleyball with locals and fellow visitors, or simply watch from the sidelines and soak in the energetic atmosphere.
  • Biking and Rollerblading: Rent a bike or a pair of rollerblades and cruise along the scenic bike path that runs parallel to the beach, offering stunning ocean views along the way.

Stroll Along the Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is a vibrant pedestrian-only shopping and entertainment district located in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. Lined with an array of shops, restaurants, cafes, and street performers, it’s the perfect place to spend a leisurely day exploring.

  • Shop ’til You Drop: Browse through a diverse selection of stores, ranging from popular retail chains and designer boutiques to unique local shops selling everything from clothing and accessories to artwork and souvenirs.
  • Dine Al Fresco: Enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink at one of the many outdoor cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the promenade, offering a diverse array of cuisines to satisfy any palate.
  • Catch a Movie or Live Performance: Visit the iconic Santa Monica Place mall, where you can catch a movie at the state-of-the-art ArcLight Cinemas or enjoy live music and entertainment at the outdoor courtyard.
  • Experience the Nightlife: As the sun sets, the Third Street Promenade comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene, with bars, lounges, and clubs offering live music, DJ sets, and dancing into the early hours of the morning.

Explore the Art and Culture Scene

Santa Monica boasts a rich cultural heritage and a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and cultural institutions showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions.

  • Visit the Bergamot Station Arts Center: Explore this former industrial site turned art complex, home to numerous galleries and studios showcasing contemporary art exhibitions and installations.
  • Discover Public Art Installations: Take a self-guided tour of Santa Monica’s public art installations, which can be found throughout the city, from colorful murals and sculptures to interactive art pieces and architectural landmarks.
  • Attend Cultural Events and Festivals: Check out the calendar of events for the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division, which hosts a variety of cultural events, festivals, and performances throughout the year, celebrating the diversity of the community.
  • Learn About Local History: Visit the Santa Monica History Museum to learn about the rich history and heritage of the city, from its early Native American inhabitants and Spanish colonial era to its emergence as a popular seaside destination.

Experience the Great Outdoors

Beyond its beautiful beaches and bustling urban areas, Santa Monica offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration amidst its natural landscapes.

  • Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains: Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, where you can explore scenic canyons, lush forests, and panoramic vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
  • Bike Along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail: Rent a bike and ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as “The Strand,” which stretches for miles along the coastline, offering stunning views and easy access to beaches, parks, and attractions.
  • Picnic in Palisades Park: Pack a picnic basket and head to Palisades Park, a scenic bluff-top park overlooking the ocean, where you can relax on the grassy lawns, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or simply admire the breathtaking views.
  • Go Birdwatching at the Annenberg Community Beach House: Explore the Annenberg Community Beach House and its surrounding grounds, which provide habitat for a variety of bird species, making it a popular spot for birdwatching enthusiasts.

Indulge in Culinary Delights

Santa Monica is a food lover’s paradise, with an eclectic culinary scene that showcases the best of California cuisine, international flavors, and farm-to-table fare.

  • Dine at Farm-to-Table Restaurants: Sample locally sourced and sustainable ingredients at farm-to-table restaurants like FIG Restaurant, which offers seasonal menus inspired by the abundance of California’s farms and farmers’ markets.
  • Experience International Cuisine: Explore the diverse array of international cuisines available in Santa Monica, from authentic Mexican taquerias and Japanese sushi bars to Italian trattorias and French bistros.
  • Visit the Santa Monica Farmers Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Santa Monica Farmers Market, where you can browse through stalls brimming with fresh produce, artisanal goods, and gourmet treats from local farmers and producers.
  • Indulge in Sweet Treats: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to one of Santa Monica’s many dessert destinations, where you can indulge in decadent pastries, artisanal chocolates, gourmet ice cream, and more.


Santa Monica offers a diverse array of attractions and activities for visitors to explore and enjoy, from its iconic pier and beautiful beaches to its vibrant shopping districts, cultural institutions, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, culture, or gastronomy, this coastal gem has something for everyone to experience and discover. Plan your next getaway to Santa Monica and embark on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, exploration, and endless possibilities.

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