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The Ultimate Guide to Santa Monica, California

Visit Santa Monica

Explore Santa Monica:
The Ultimate Santa Monica Travel Guide


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Updated on May 21 2024 6:26am

Visit Santa Monica California
Visit Santa Monica California
Visit Santa Monica California

A Visitor's Guide to the Best Attractions and Activities, from Surfing to Shopping on Third Street Promenade.

Santa Monica beckons with its laid-back charm, picturesque beaches, and vibrant cultural scene. As one of the most iconic beach cities in the world, Santa Monica effortlessly combines the allure of a coastal paradise with the sophistication of a cosmopolitan destination. From the famous Santa Monica Pier with its historic amusement park to the bustling Third Street Promenade lined with shops and restaurants, this coastal gem offers something for everyone. Whether you're soaking up the sun on its pristine beaches, exploring its diverse culinary landscape, or immersing yourself in its thriving arts and entertainment scene, Santa Monica promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of California's quintessential beach culture.


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Santa Monica Hotels

Santa Monica is a popular tourist destination in California, known for its beautiful beaches, shopping and dining. If you're planning a trip to Santa Monica and looking for a luxurious accommodation, then check out our guide to the best hotels in the area. We have compiled a list of top hotels in Santa Monica, including Shutters on the Beach, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Oceana Beach Club Hotel, and Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. Find the perfect hotel that suits your needs and budget, and enjoy all that this vibrant California city has to offer.


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Santa Monica Restaurants

Santa Monica is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and for good reason - it has a vibrant culinary scene with some of the best restaurants in the region. The city boasts classic establishments that have been around for decades, as well as new, trendy spots that are pushing the boundaries of contemporary cuisine. With fresh produce sourced from the local farmers market, Santa Monica's restaurants showcase the best of California's bounty. In this list, we highlight some of the top restaurants in Santa Monica, each with their own unique spin on local and international flavors.


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Santa Monica Beaches

Santa Monica State Beach is a world-famous tourist destination located in Santa Monica, California. The beach stretches for three miles and offers visitors the perfect opportunity to relax, catch some waves, or take a leisurely bike ride along the beachfront. The beach is managed by both the City of Santa Monica and California State Park, ensuring that it is always kept in pristine condition for visitors to enjoy. Santa Monica Beach has two distinct areas that cater to different tastes. North Beach offers a serene atmosphere with miles of sand and spectacular views of Santa Monica Bay, while South Beach is full of life, bustling with activities such as beach volleyball, surfing, rollerblading, and skateboarding.


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Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a must-visit location in Southern California. As one of the most photographed locations in the world, it is a symbol of the heart of Santa Monica. Located at the intersection of Ocean and Colorado, the pier offers a variety of entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences, including the thrill rides of Pacific Park, a historic 1922 Carousel, an old-fashioned soda fountain, and an interactive aquarium. Walking along the pier, visitors can enjoy lively street performers, musicians, and artists while indulging in some of the best sunset views along the California coast. Whether you are looking for a family outing, a romantic date spot, or just a fun-filled day, the Santa Monica Pier is sure to offer something for everyone.


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Surfing in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Beach is a premier destination for surfers, offering a perfect blend of accessible waves and a vibrant surf culture. With a variety of surf spots like Ocean Park, the Santa Monica Pier, Bay Street, and Will Rogers State Beach, surfers of all skill levels can find their ideal break. Ocean Park, known for its reliable beach break and versatile conditions, is especially popular among locals and visitors alike. For those seeking a less crowded experience, Will Rogers State Beach provides a peaceful alternative with its scenic beauty and potential for uncrowded waves. Surfing in Santa Monica is not just about the waves but also about immersing oneself in the quintessential California lifestyle, with a friendly surf community, picturesque views, and numerous surf schools ready to welcome beginners. Whether you're catching a wave at dawn or enjoying the sunset from your board, Santa Monica's surf scene offers a quintessential Southern California experience year-round.


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Palisades Park

Palisades Park in Santa Monica is an iconic 26-acre park that stretches along a 1.6-mile section of Ocean Avenue on top of a terrace with exposed bluffs. The park offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Its history dates back to 1892 when the land was donated to the city because it was considered too unstable to support houses. Today, Palisades Park is a beautiful oasis filled with features such as benches, picnic areas, artworks and monuments, and a rose garden . Palisades Park remains a stunning gem in Santa Monica, perfect for jogging, biking, people watching, and taking in the unforgettable sunsets over the Santa Monica Bay.


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Tongva Park

Tongva Park in Santa Monica is a six-acre urban oasis that combines art, sustainability, and natural beauty to create a stunning green space. The park, which is conveniently located within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier, features unique structures, art sculptures, diverse and sustainable plants and trees, and plenty of amenities for visitors of all ages to enjoy. With walking paths throughout the park, visitors can easily explore the four sections of the park and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific.

What was once a flat asphalt parking lot has been transformed into an idyllic and well-designed ocean-adjacent oasis of green space. Tongva Park includes a playground, waterfalls, walking paths, meadows, and a conch-like, wireframe lookout to the Pacific. The park is also home to the Weather Field sculpture by artist IƱigo Manglano-Ovalle, which serves as a serene and instantly memorable landmark. With a native and locally-appropriate sustainable plant palette that changes subtly with the seasons and a dramatic topography of rolling hills and braided paths, Tongva Park accommodates a range of uses that benefit the health and wellbeing of community members and visitors of all ages.


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Third Street Promenade

Enjoy the beautiful West Coast weather with a leisurely walk through the Third Street Promenade, which is closed to street traffic and welcomes pets. This vibrant pedestrian street offers a plethora of shopping and dining options, as well as the opportunity to people-watch and discover talented street performers. The Promenade is home to a variety of specialty retailers, including popular brands such as Patagonia, Lululemon, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters, among many others.


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SaMo PRIDE

SaMo PRIDE is an annual month-long celebration of inclusivity and diversity in Santa Monica. Presented by Santa Monica Pier, Downtown Santa Monica, Santa Monica Place, the City of Santa Monica, and Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, SaMo PRIDE is a family-friendly event that includes art, events for all ages, and community connections. The centerpiece of the event is the "Miles of Pride" vibrant light installation, which spans the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, and other city landmarks. This rainbow-lit pathway serves as an anchor for SaMo PRIDE month, providing a festive and welcoming atmosphere for everyone to come together to support and pay tribute to the LGBTQIA+ community. With local business specials, virtual events, and unique art installations by LGBTQIA+ artists, SaMo PRIDE celebrates love in every color and showcases Santa Monica's inclusive and diverse spirit.


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Santa Monica Visitor Guide
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