20 Best Things To Do In Santa Monica, California - Updated 2021

things to do in santa monica

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. Spend a fun day at Annenberg Community Beach House

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Annenberg Community Beach House on Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Road trips along Pacific Coast Highway are more fun when you have a scenic stopover such as Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach. This recreation center is open to the public and is built on the demolished mansion that was once owned by actress Marion Davies. The swimming pool with a marble deck is open for use for a fee. Other parts of the beach house are the splash pad, the playground, the gallery, beach courts, and many more!

Annenberg Community Beach House

Address: 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90402, United States

Website: Annenberg Community Beach House

2. Have a restful afternoon at Tongva Park

Tongva Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user Hrag Vartanian used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Tongva Park along Ocean Avenue is one of the many spots to hang out and relax with your loved ones in Santa Monica. It was named after the Tongva people, the indigenous people who have resided in the Los Angeles region. The park serves as a center for the community, with amenities like an amphitheater, a playground, a garden, and fountains. If you’re having a picnic with your loved ones, this place is perfect for such an occasion! The park has stunning views of the famed Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific.

Tongva Park

Address: 1615 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, United States

Website: Tongva Park

Opening hours: 6am - 11pm (daily)

3. Treat yourself at Sweet Rose Creamery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

With the sun out and about in Southern California and the Santa Monica streets filled with so many places to visit, a trip to Sweet Rose Creamery is a must! Get yourself some refreshing treats at this beloved dessert shop. They offer classic sundae flavors like brownies, cookies, and salted caramel. If you’re adventurous with your sweet treats, why not take a shot at their monthly flavors too? Some of the goodies you’ll find here are mango froyo, summer corn, triple chocolate, and dairy-free watermelon sorbet. Beat the heat with a bowl of your favorite treat!

Sweet Rose Creamery

Address: 2726 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Website: Sweet Rose Creamery

Opening hours: 12pm - 10pm (daily)

4. Visit the Frank Gehry House

Gehry House - Image01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user IK's World Trip used under CC BY 2.0

Gehry Residence is a Deconstructivist-style home on 22nd Street. The stunning home is owned by Frank Gehry, a renowned American architect who was the designer of Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and so much more.

The Gehry Residence is the work that catapulted the architect into fame and uses unusual materials like corrugated steel and chain-link fences. To this day, the home is still Frank Gehry’s property and is now one of the best attractions in the city.

Frank Gehry House

Address: 1002 22nd Street; Santa Monica, California 90403

5. Quench your thirst at Chomp Eatery & Juice Station

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

After taking a stroll on the famed pier and being under the sun in Santa Monica all day, one of the best places for refreshments is Chomp Eatery & Juice Station. This electric juice joint serves quality cold-pressed juices and bang-for-your-buck casual eats. The eatery sees to it that they serve only the best healthy products by keeping the ingredients organic and locally sourced.

Their popular juices include Breathe (ginger, apple, and lemon) and Happy (pineapple, lime, cucumber, and green apple), among many others. If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast spot in the city, this is where it’s at too!

Chomp Eatery & Juice Station

Address: 1612 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404, United States

Website: Chomp Eatery & Juice Station

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 9pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 4pm

6. Learn about the famous O J Simpson murder trial (from USD 50.0)

Head out on this guided tour that gives you insights into the most ignominious murder trial of our time - the O.J.Simpson case. Accompany a local to the crime scene and other locations that were in the limelight as part of the trial. Traveling in an authentic 1994 Ford Bronco adds just the right bit of thrill to this tour. The tour is private and restricted only to you and your group. It is conducted by a local resident and case expert who’s featured on numerous TV shows on this matter.

The O.J. Simpson Tour

Duration: 1 hour

118 reviews

7. Go bar-hopping in Santa Monica (from USD 40.0)

Get your spirits high, quite literally! Check out the many trendy bars in Santa Monica on this guided tour that lasts a little under three hours. Before you set off, enjoy a photo session at the iconic Santa Monica pier with your friendly guide behind the camera. Stop by a sports beer bar, a Mexican-inspired bar specializing in cocktails, and a typical British pub. Enjoy more photo opportunities and make stops at themed bars before you wind up your tour. Up to four guests can join in at a time, and the price includes drinks.

Santa Monica Photography Bar Crawl

Duration: 2.5 hours

23 reviews

8. Admire the sights of Santa Monica on a Segway tour (from USD 169.0)

things to do in santa monica | admire the sights of santa monica on a segway tour

Hop on a Segway for a unique perspective on Santa Monica. Zip around the sun-soaked Southern California coast with an experienced tour guide. Ride past the boardwalks at Santa Monica and Venice Beach, on to the historic Santa Monica pier. Get a closer look at the chic galleries as you head to the California Heritage Museum. Take in the eclectic architecture of Venice and its numerous street performers before you wind up this two-hour-long tour.

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour

Duration: 2 hour

3 reviews

9. Experience an interactive food tour (from USD 84.0)

Tantalize your taste buds with this walking food tour of Santa Monica. Stop by the hip cafes and bustling restaurants of the downtown area in search of local specialties such as truly Italian sandwiches, award-winning cheeseburgers, and mouthwatering doughnuts.

Browse the local farmer’s market for fresh vegetables and more culinary delights as your guide explains the history and culture of the area in the context of food. This tour is wheelchair and stroller accessible, making it suitable for people of all ages.

Santa Monica Food Interactive Walking Tour with Tastings

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

3 reviews

10. Learn to write a song with a pop singer (from USD 78.0)

learn to write a song with a pop singer
Source: www.airbnb.com

Hone your singing and songwriting skills with valuable inputs from a pop singer and social media influencer. Pick up the nuances of writing songs and fine-tuning them to perfection. You can go home with your own unique song for sharing with family and friends. This hour and a half tour can accommodate up to 10 guests at a time. All the equipment is included and you will get to interact firsthand with a pop singer-songwriter who has featured on popular music platforms such as Spotify.

Write a Song w Pop Singer & Influencer

Duration: 1 hour

25 reviews

11. Learn to fly in the Museum of Flying

Yokosuka D4Y1 Suisei ‘Judy’ ‘601-35’
Source: Photo by user Alan Wilson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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

12. Unwind at the Santa Monica Beach (from USD 53.0)

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 sandy 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

13. Play lawn bowling and tennis at Douglas Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

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.

Douglas Park

Address: 439 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, California, USA

Website: Douglas Park

Opening hours: 6am - 11pm

14. Enjoy thrill rides at Pacific Park

Fun Park on the Pier, Santa Monica (7618053318)
Source: Photo by user Alex Proimos used under CC BY 2.0

Time for a roller coaster ride! 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.

Pacific Park

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

15. See street performers on the Third Street Promenade

Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade
Source: Photo by user Balazs Barnucz used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Third Street Promenade is a popular spot with plenty of shopping, entertainment, and dining opportunities 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

Price: Free

16. Learn about the marine life at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Source: Photo by user inazakira used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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

17. Climb the Santa Monica Stairs

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

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

Price: Free

18. Admire the artistic work in Bergamot Station

Bergamot Station
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CalderOliver used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Bergamot Station is the cultural center in Santa Monica and houses around 30 private art exhibits and 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.

Bergamot Station

Address: 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, California, USA

Website: Bergamot Station

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: Free

19. Shop at Santa Monica Place

Santa Monica Place Macerich
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Macerich used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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

Price: Free

20. Take a walk down the Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user GillyBerlin used under CC BY 2.0

After a stroll in the palm-lined Palisades Park, head on the Ocean Front Walk to the 108-year-old Santa Monica Pier for a variety of attractions. 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. Maybe take a picture at the Route 66 End of the Trail Sign too!

The pier is about a 12-minute drive from Santa Monica Airport.

Relax and enjoy everything Santa Monica has to offer

relax and enjoy everything santa monica has to offer
Source: Pixabay

Appreciate the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica Bay and have fun on your vacation by exploring all these things to see and do in Santa Monica, California. If you want to see more, here are some other points of interest in and near this beachfront city: Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Santa Monica Camera Obscura.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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