Santa Monica is a popular coastal resort located west of Los Angeles. The city is well known for its Santa Monica Beach and Palisades Park, offering panoramic vistas over the Pacific Ocean. Of interest to visit is the Santa Monica Pier with its Pacific Park amusement park, offering plenty of fun things to enjoy. It is also known for the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and the Looff Hippodrome Carousel. Right next door to the pier is Muscle Beach, which features an outdoor fitness center which has been running since the 1930s. The city center features a number of art galleries, housed in the Bergamot Station building. Scroll below to see our top picks of fun things to do in Santa Monica, California, USA.
1. Learn to fly in the Museum of Flying
The Museum of Flying is a fascinating place with its many historic planes, with an emphasis on World War II fighter craft and artifacts relating to flying. One fun activity includes the MaxFlight flight simulator, which puts you in the pilot’s seat for a simulated flight. The simulator offers a 350-degree pitch and roll experience, letting you take the “plane” upside down. There is also surround sound to add to the effects. Alternatively, take a more relaxing flight over the Los Angeles area in a DC-3.
Museum of Flying
Address: 3100 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Museum of Flying
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm
Price: 8 USD
Santa Monica Beach is one of few Los Angeles options that offer large expanses of sand, as well as walking and biking trails and other activities. The beach is perfect for relaxation, but is also close to local restaurants and shops and runs on either side of the Santa Monica Pier. The area is ideal for kids, with a variety of slides, swings and climbing equipment available, so they can have fun while you relax and unwind.
Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach
Duration 3 hours
3. Play lawn bowling and tennis at Douglas Park
Douglas Park is a fun place to relax, either on the lawn bowling green or in one of the two tennis courts on site. The park also features three reflecting pools, picnic tables, and benches, a fly fishing area for fishing fans and a children’s playground with a splash pad.
Address: 439 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Douglas Park
Opening hours: 6am - 11pm
4. Enjoy thrill rides at Pacific Park
Pacific Park is located on the famous Santa Monica Pier and is the only amusement park on the West Coast to be set on a pier. There are a dozen exciting rides to choose from, including the Seaside Swing, Shark Frenzy and the exciting West Coaster, as well as a range of specialty food outlets, shopping, and midway games.
Address: 380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Pacific Park
Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 11am - 12am; Mon - Thu: 11am - 8pm
Price: 5-10 USD
5. See street performers on the Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade is a popular dining, shopping and entertainment area in downtown Santa Monica. Take in ROAM, the rotating public art program of Santa Monica, viewing art by contemporary local artists. Enjoy walking tours of the promenade and visit the 1910 Craftsman House or watch street performers plying their art. Pick up a piece of pottery, colored to your taste, or visit the Santa Monica History Museum which offers interactive exhibits of art, culture, and history of Santa Monica.
Third Street Promenade
Address: 1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Third Street Promenade
Opening hours: 24 hours
6. Learn about the marine life at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Located underneath the Santa Monica Pier, this fascinating aquarium is operated by Heal the Bay, a non-profit organization protecting the Bay and the animals that live there. There are more than 100 local species housed at the aquarium and a number of hands-on activities for the kids including touch tanks, as well as daily educational programs. Learn about marine science without having to get your feet wet.
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Address: 1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 12pm - 5pm; Tue - Thu: 2pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 5 USD
7. Climb the Santa Monica Stairs
The Santa Monica Stairs consist of two stairways descending from Santa Monica to Los Angeles. One consists of 170 steps from Adelaide Drive to Entrada Drive and the other 189 steps from 4th Street to Ocean Avenue Extension. Neither is for the unfit or squeamish as this is quite the climb! However, they form part of many of the local residents’ exercise regimen.
Santa Monica Stairs
Address: 699 Adelaide Dr, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Santa Monica Stairs
Opening hours: 24 hours
8. Admire the artistic work in Bergamot Station
Bergamot Station is the primary cultural destination in Santa Monica and houses around 30 private art galleries. It is housed in a campus-like complex owned by the city. Fine Art galleries host rotating exhibitions which feature artists from all over the world. The center also hosts cultural community activities and charitable events.
Address: 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Bergamot Station
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
9. Shop at Santa Monica Place
Shop until you drop at the Santa Monica Place outdoor shopping mall. The mall is located at the end of the Third Street Promenade and has been open since 1980. Enjoy browsing the luxury-brand stores, enjoy a snack in the food court or relax and watch one of the latest films in the movie theater on site.
Santa Monica Place
Address: 395 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California, USA
Website: Santa Monica Place
Opening hours: Sun: 11am - 9pm; Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm
After a stroll in the palm-lined Palisades Park, head on the Ocean Front Walk to the 108-year-old Santa Monica Pier. Stroll along the pier, enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean in the fresh, sea air and visit the only solar-powered Ferris wheel in the world, as well as the 100-year-old Looff Hippodrome offering a piece of West Coast nostalgia. Head to the Pier Shop & Visitor Center to buy souvenirs to take home or enjoy a flying trapeze lesson at the Trapeze School, New York on the pier.
Santa Monica Walking Tour
Relax and enjoy everything Santa Monica has to offer
Have fun on your vacation by exploring all the many things to see and do in Santa Monica, California, USA.
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