Santa Monica is a beachfront city west of downtown Los Angeles in California. It’s a small city, particularly when compared to Greater Los Angeles, and has a community feel to it. Perhaps its most well-known attraction is the Santa Monica Pier. The pier is home to the Pacific Park amusement park, the Looff Hippodrome Carousel, and an aquarium. Visitors love to stroll along the boardwalk, look out over the ocean, and relax on the beach. Santa Monica is also home to the famous Muscle Beach and outdoor gym which dates back to the 1930s. It’s the perfect city for those who like outdoor activities and warm sunny weather. We’ve picked out ten of our favorite tours in Santa Monica to help you plan your trip, so continue reading to see our picks.
If walking and eating is more your style, this tour is for you! This four hour tour will take you along historical Main Street in Santa Monica. Main Street is a local hangout, filled with boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Each tour is unique depending on restaurant availability. You may have the chance to taste tacos, Australian meat pies, omusubi (Japanese rice balls), jerk chicken, thin crust pizza, cookies, and there may even be a stop at the farmers market. Your guide will take you past famous landmarks and share information about the city.
This tour will certainly leave you feeling sated!
Santa Monica Food Interactive Walking Tour with Tastings
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
For those interested in celebrities and the film industry, this homes of the stars tour is the perfect option. You’ll drive along beautiful beaches, and see stunning beachfront communities with homes worth millions of dollars. Your guide will share the inside scoop on homes owned by celebrities like Leonardo Di Caprio, Dustin Hoffman, and Danny De Vito. You’ll also pass beaches and homes which have been filming locations for a number of TV shows and movies, from “Baywatch” to “Planet of the Apes”.
The tour lasts two hours, and you’ll be driven from Santa Monica Pier along the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll enjoy the sunshine and the cool breeze as you pass more than 40 celebrity homes and filming locations.
Homes of the Stars Malibu Tour from Santa Monica Pier
Duration: 2 hour
Number five on our list is certainly unique and special! If you don’t mind heights, this air tour is a stunning way to see Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The tour lasts one hour, and your pilot will fly you in a three-passenger airplane.
You’ll start at Van Nuys airport, and head south toward the Getty Center. You’ll have views of coastal communities such as Malibu and Pacific Palisades. Then, you’ll fly over Santa Monica, and take in the Santa Monica Pier. Next, you’ll fly east toward downtown Los Angeles, where you’ll spot Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Head north to the iconic Hollywood sign, and you’ll end the tour back at Van Nuys airport.
This tour allows you to have views like no other, and you’ll be able to see a wide range of attractions.
Air tour over Santa Monica, downtown LA, and Hollywood
Address: Depart from Van Nuys Airport, 16461 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, CA 91406
Price: from 200 USD
For a more thorough tour of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, try this highlights tour. Lasting seven hours, you’ll see a wide variety of attractions. You’ll begin at the Santa Monica Pier, where you’ll learn the history of the amusement rides. You’ll then head to the Venice Beach boardwalk, where you can enjoy the ocean views and watch street performers.
In the afternoon, you’ll head to Hollywood, seeing attractions like the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, and the Dolby Theatre. You’ll then drive down the Sunset Strip, passing famous landmarks like the Viper Room and Chateau Marmont. Your guide will point out celebrity mansions and famous hotels.
The tour departs from central Los Angeles, and your guide will drive you around in a minivan. You’ll stop for lunch at The Grove shopping centre. Snacks are provided in the air conditioned van.
LA Tour: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Beverly Hills
Duration: 7 hours
The hop-on hop-off bus tours offer a lot of flexibility. You can get on or off the bus at any of their 50 locations. You can even choose between a 24, 48, and 72-hour ticket. From the open rooftop, you’ll get a 360 degree view of the surrounding attractions.
There are six different routes which will take you to a variety of areas. You can explore Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, downtown LA, and Hollywood. Attractions include Paramount Studios, Hollywood Bowl, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Village. If you’d like to cover a lot of ground, or don’t want to drive yourself, the hop-on hop-off bus tour is an excellent option for you.
Los Angeles Hop-On Hop-Off Double-Decker Bus Tour
Duration: 2 hours
This tour will have you exploring the waterfront cities of Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, and Venice from an electric Cadillac Escalade limo! Your guide will take you through these beachside towns, offering commentary along the way. You’ll be able to see the sites from the open-air limo.
The tour starts in Santa Monica, and then you’ll head through Venice and Marina del Rey. You’ll have time to explore the areas on foot, so you can enjoy the sandy beaches, stop for a bite to eat, and do some shopping. You’ll be provided with discounts at select restaurants, cafes, and stores. The tour ends back in Santa Monica.
Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach
Duration: 3 hours
If you’re an artist, you’ll want to check out this street art bike tour. You’ll be provided a bike, and will get to pedal through Venice, experiencing the area like a local. The guide will take you past Muscle Beach, the skate park, the Venice Canals, and to Abbot Kinney Blvd, a treating gathering place. You’ll see street art by Chase, Space Invader, Rip Cronk, and Ralph Zimon. You’ll even pass architecture by Frank Gehry.
The tour lasts four hours, and offers the unique opportunity to appreciate these often-overlooked works of art.
Street art bike tour
Address: Depart from Santa Monica Bike Center, Tour Center, 1502 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Price: from 69 USD
If the electric limo in number eight had you intrigued, here’s another option for you! This tour will allow you to explore the restaurants and bars of Santa Monica in a small group. You’ll be driven in the limo to the restaurant of your choosing for lunch or dinner. After, you’ll be taken to whatever bar you’d like to go to. Of course, your guide will provide commentary on the area.
The tour lasts approximately five hours, and you’ll be picked up and dropped off at your hotel. You can have complete control over which restaurant and bar you’d like to try—or you can ask the guide for their recommendation. Feel like a star as you’re driven around in the Cadillac Escalade limo!
Santa Monica Private Tour with Restaurant and Bar Stops
Duration: 5 hours
To get you started, here’s an electric bike tour which will bring you around Santa Monica and Venice. You’ll be given a colorful beach cruiser bike, and because it’s electric, you can decide whether you’d like to pedal or not.
The three hour tour will take you along Santa Monica Beach, under the pier, to the skate park in Venice, and through Venice to the Venice Canals. Your guide will share local facts along the way, including information about art, architecture, and the history of the area.
Before you go, make sure to wear closed toe shoes as well as sunglasses and sunscreen. It’s also recommended to bring a jacket, as the weather by the beach can change frequently. This tour is a great way to see landmarks of this area, and learn a little history along the way.
Santa Monica and Venice 3-Hour Electric Bike Tour
Duration: 3 hour
Another option for exploring Santa Monica and Venice Beach is this Segway tour. This two hour tour follows the beachside bike path, where you’ll explore the streets and beaches of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. You’ll glide past the carousel and ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier, you’ll see Muscle Beach, the Graffiti Wall in Venice, and skateboarders at the Venice skate park.
If you’ve never ridden a Segway before, don’t fear! The tour starts off with a 20-30 minute lesson and practice session so you can feel confident operating the Segway. Reviewers have suggested booking a morning tour, as the boardwalk is not as busy, and therefore easier to navigate.
Segways are a great way to cover a lot of ground, so this is the perfect tour for those wanting an overview of the Santa Monica area.
Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour
Duration: 2 hours
Sun and surf in Santa Monica
There are a myriad of ways to explore the sandy beaches of the seaside community. Whether you’d like to travel in a limo, ride a bike, or even tour the area in an airplane! There’s options for foodies, for art lovers, and for those obsessed with celebrities. Whatever option you choose, you’ll learn about the area, and are sure to have a lot of fun. Book your tour today!
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.