Santa Monica Travel Guide

  • Santa Monica Pier from sea end
    Santa Monica Pier from sea end
    by Gillybob
  • Sunset
    by Herwig1961
  • Santa Monica
    by Herwig1961

Santa Monica Highlights

  • Pro
    Carmanah profile photo

    Carmanah says…

     Surprisingly pedestrian friendly, beautiful beaches, beautiful people, great shopping/restaurant options, gorgeous weather, feels like the city exists for leisure. 

  • Con
    giampiero6 profile photo

    giampiero6 says…

     Homeless encampments in the Promenade and Bluff Park 

  • In a nutshell
    HotSpotJ profile photo

    HotSpotJ says…

     Santa Monica- the perfect combination of Hollywood and Malibu! 

Santa Monica Things to Do

  • Santa Monica Pier

    One of the most outstanding attractions on Santa Monica's ocean front is the pier, which as well as providing touristic entertainment, also lights up beautifully at night. The pier has appeared in many a movie, including the Titanic, Forrest Gump, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, the Sting, and a recent favourite of mine, Thank You for Smoking. It...

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  • Third Street Promenade

    A fine place to shop, eat, stroll, or just sit and watch the fascinating characters who exist here: Tanned supermodels, Chinese businessmen practicing Tai-Chi, leather clad bikers sharing a joint, a Mexican guitarist playing for a dancing child, street artists, breakdancers and assorted crazies.

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  • Palisades Park

    Located along Ocean Aven is Palisades Park that is equipped with picnic areas, bences, rose gardens, paths, pergola, shuffleboards courts and a beacon overlook at California Ave. We strolled along enjoying such beautiful ocean views and it was a wonderful sunny day. A visitor kiosk is located along here too. Santa Monica Visitor Information Kiosk...

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Santa Monica Hotels

Santa Monica Restaurants

  • Ye Old Kings Head Pub

    We popped in to Ye Olde Kings Head whilst in Santa Monica during our Route 66 Road Trip .We took a chance but it looked good from the outside ,and we were not disappointed. It is just like an old British pub inside and made us feel right at home after 15 days away. Apparently according to an entry in Santa Monica nighlife website quote " It's a...

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  • The Lobster

    I stopped in The Lobster just to avoid driving out and eating elsewhere when I was at the pier, and I'm glad I did! I had a delicious salad and crab-stuffed steak that remains one of my best meals in Santa Monica to date. The setting was spectacular, with the huge windows you get the warmth of the sun and the amazing sunset over the pier. The...

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  • I Cugini

    A real buzzy restaurant right on the Ocean Boulevard. We started with drinks at the bar...first apple martini of the holidays..very good! The restaurant is huge with quite a large terraced seating area but we chose to sit inside. Friendly staff answering our questions on the food made us feel at home straight away. With a big open kitchen, you...

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Santa Monica Nightlife

  • Mingle at Delfina

    Delphina is a swank, modern hotel just off the 10 freeway in downtown Santa Monica. Most striking here is the contemporary decor and ambience inside. For a business trip, the hotel is convenient to Santa Monica civic center and walking distance to 3rd Street Promenade. However, you don't have to stay in a room here to enjoy the hotel. Full-bar...

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  • 35+ Beers on tap

    This small pub located on Montana Ave in Santa Monica boasts over 35 beers on tap. They also serve wine but no hard alcohol. They do have a limited menu. They are known for their office burger. A think burger topped with blue cheese, arugula and bacon. Don't ask to make any modifications on the burger because they think it should be eaten exactly...

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  • Drink and Dance in a Glowing Red...

    The Arsenal is a bar that has been around since partying on the Westside was born. It has been renovated many times and is conveniently located on Pico St in Santa Monica. The Arsenal boasts two bars inside of its premises and serves food until 11:00PM. This place is known for the excellence of its mixed drinks and I would suggest ordering either...

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Santa Monica Transportation

  • By Bus

    Though the BBB does not stretch itself out quite like the main L.A. public transit option, MTA, the SM line covers a vast part of the places you want to see, including Santa Monica State Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, UCLA, Venice Beach, Westwood and LAX. One route that I would recommend for visitors is the #3 (Montana Ave. &...

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  • By Car

    What is unique about the parking garages are decorated with art to help them blend into the historic downtown area. Also some of the parking garages will tell you how spaces might be available by a digital reader out in front of it. CENTRAL BEACH & PIER PARKING May - September: $8 weekends & holidays; $7 weekdays April & October: $7 weekends &...

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  • Walking / Biking

    I enjoy just exploring on foot. You cannot see much when driving around in the car, but yet I know they are neccessary at times. I will always just park and get my walking maps out every time. Most historic downtowns will have a walking map of some kind. So get out and enjoy! The Santa Monica Visitor Center 1920 Main Street, Suite B 310-319-6263...

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Santa Monica Shopping

  • Third Street Promenade

    The promenade is 30 city blocks of shopping, restaurants, family and adult entertainment. Third Street was closed from automible traffic in 1965 creating one of the first pedestrian malls. In 1989 the city spent millions of dollars revitalized the area creating a wonderful asset to bring visitors to this area. What is unique about the Third Street...

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  • Barney's Hangar Sale

    Gigantic reductions of designer swag can be had at the historic Barker Hangar in February !!! This is a free-for-all event that attracts thousands (mostly women). Believe me, it's a crazy event every year! No scratches for me yet! Here is some advice when attending the big Barney sale: -arrive early -be prepared to push or get pushed! (don't be...

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  • Oooo! Chocolate!

    What is there to say?! I held back and did not buy any chocolate (because of the low carb diet I'm on) but it all looked amazing. Located at Santa Monica Place on the upper level.

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Santa Monica Local Customs

  • Beach Culture

    Here I am in my bohemeian attire at the Promenade, by the dinosaur-cut tree sculptures. Santa Monica is a fashion capital within the greater L.A. area. Many clothing boutiques line the streets within and around the main Promenade area. Get some ideas at these places and buy some outfits (if you can afford to, that is!

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  • Respect or detest NIMBY culture of SM

    OK, bear with some acronyms now. While Santa Monica enjoys much pleasant praise in its overall presence and for its entertainment attraction, SM is also shed in some negative aspects and is sometimes scorned and is the butt of jokes because of some of its political ultra-pro green environment and social views which has inspired the creation and...

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  • Meet under the Fig Tree before Christmas

    At the ridiculously posh Fairmont Miramar Hotel, there is an old (by Californian standards) Moreton fig tree on its grounds. To salute the 80 ft high natural beauty, the hotel get super holiday pretty and hosts an annual social gathering open to all. Some of the most grand holiday decoration is here, as well as some holiday treat to eat ....

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Santa Monica Warnings and Dangers

  • People / The Homeless

    We all know there is way too many homeless folks nowdays and the beaches seems to the only area they are allowed to hangout and sleep. We were not approach one time for anything. Seems folks around here just want to leave you alone so you leave them alone. There are exceptions to those who might suffer from mental illness. Now, having a mental...

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  • Local Laws

    Located at the entrance of pier is located a box you can deposit your cigarettes butts. Smoking is not permitted on the Santa Monica Pier. SMMC 4.44.020 Reason? The pier is wood, so not a good thing to be smoking along it, don't you think?. Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. 1351 Third Street Promenade, Suite 201 Santa Monica, CA 90401

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  • Beaches

    I have recently went to Venice Beach and met some really interesting people. I met a man from Germany who recently has become homeless. Although homeless, he was very educated and knowledgable about worldly issues. It is amazing how we see homeless people as "the others" not recognizing that we too can become homeless at anytime considering the...

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Santa Monica Tourist Traps

  • Santa Monica Pier

    'Santa Monica Pier' was a waste of time for us. Granted it was the Fourth of July, and crowded; however the only things it offered were a couple of o.k. restaurants, souvenir shops, and rides that would only impress smaller children. If you've been to any of the other amusements parks,or have teens, you would find this place boring. P.S. I am not...

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  • Bubba Gump's is the definition of a...

    I've seen reviews that say Santa Monica Pier is a tourist trap, but as a local who hangs out there regularly, I think the reputation is undeserved. However, there is noting redeeming about about Bubba Gump's. You'll overpay for an unappetizing meal, and for drinks that come with a lame souvenir cup. For a lot less money you can grab a great hot...

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  • Third Street Promenade

    Well, you absolutely cannot miss this hangout. Though it is quite trite, I recommend coming here to spend a few hours. The strip consists of designer shops and boutiques, more common retail shops, both mundane and exquisite restaurants, bars, a few movie theaters, coffee bars, street performers (and beggars) individual vendors and several bunches...

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Santa Monica What to Pack

  • Beach Wear / Jacket

    Again, we're facing the Pacific Ocean, so be prepared for rather chilly weather. It was amazing to see joggers wearing sports tank tops and shorts and out jogging, while i had to be fully clothed! heheheehee... I suppose they're used to the cold winds! Again, buy water from convenience stores or from gas stations. These places tend to be...

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  • Credit Cards

    Bring the plastic money baby. But, if you ever get stuck here and happens to be jobless and homeless, Santa Monica City is the only place that welcome homeless people. They provide care, shelther, free FOOD!! etc. But, I advise against it okie :) Sneakers are best but roller blades, skate boards, scooters are kool to be able to move around...

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  • Packing List

    If you plan to shop & chances are you'll being doing lots of them here, bring extra bags! Or you may just bring your credit cards (yeah, cardS!).

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Santa Monica Off The Beaten Path

  • City Walks

    Australian Tea Trees grow throughout the southern portion of the Park. These trees have a distinctive appearance, with twisted branches that run along the ground. Two Australian tea trees are located between Colorado and Broadway Avenue. A group of five additional twisted trees are located further north, and one tree grows near Wilshire Boulevard....

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  • Santa Monica Pier / Promenade

    Located along the Promenade is a beautiful topiary statues incorporated into a fountain. The plaque reads: Third Street Promenade Bayside District Santa Monica, Ca A public/private partnership dedicated to the community of Santa Monica September 16, 1989 Dennis Zane Mayor Located at: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. 1351 Third Street Promenade, Suite...

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  • Day Trip

    You think beach, pier and the Third Street Promendae when entertaining Santa Monica comes to mind. What about airport? What? It's not so far off to think of the airport as a venue of fun in Santa Monica even though it's way east from the shore. Specifically, at the Barker Hangar is a very unique place to go to live it up. Noted for its large sound...

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Santa Monica Sports & Outdoors

  • Water Activities

    I came across surfinsocal the last time I was in LA. I wish I knew about them before getting there. Not only do they offer one on one lessons, no matter what your experience is, they also offer personalized surf trip planning for free before you get into town. Just tell them what you are looking for and they will hook you up with where to surf,...

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  • Surfing in Santa Monica

    I came across surfinsocal the last time I was in LA. I wish I knew about them before getting there. Not only do they offer one on one lessons, no matter what your experience is, they also offer personalized surf trip planning for free before you get into town. Just tell them what you are looking for and they will hook you up with where to surf,...

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  • Fishing off the pier

    No offense to anglers around the world, but I think I'm pushing it with listing pier fishing as a sport. You work off about as many calories as I do playing fantasy football. But, if fishing is your hobby, then I saw plenty of fishing at the end of the Santa Monica pier. I've heard its a very relaxing thing to do. I'm sure the real deal is...

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Santa Monica Favorites

  • The Pier

    As you probably all ready know what is one of my favorite things is learn the history about the places I visit. So when a community takes the time and especially money to install one of these I like to take the time and read some of the information that is shared. This one is located at the base of the pier by the carousel. Santa Monica...

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  • City Views

    This is one of the most intriguing art displays in the greater Los Angeles area I've seen up close- an anti-nuclear "Chain Reaction", by Paul Conrad, a political cartoonist who was named on the official "enemy list" of U.S. President, Richard Nixon. It is not the most eye-pleasing of public art pieces created- and that likely was not artist...

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  • Third Street Promenade

    Shop or have lunch at SANTA MONICA PLACE. Situated along Colorado Avenue & 4th Street & 1 block away from Ocean Avenue, it's mall shopping housed within the contemporary architecture designed by world-renowed architect Frank O. Gehry (winner of the 1999 American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal).

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Top 10 Most Scenic Workouts: Santa Monica

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Only a handful of locations can provide a pedestrian-only route the length of which is almost a marathon – and none can do so while providing a view of one of the most beautiful beach areas in the world. "The Strand" is a 22-mile bike path that runs from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, California to Torrance County Beach. The route passes landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach's infamous boardwalk. If you've seen people rollerblading on TV or in movies, most likely it was filmed along "The Strand." Rental locations and public restrooms pop up almost every _ mile.

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Comments (1)

  • rudysmom626's Profile Photo
    Nov 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    ICE at Santa Monica is open! Just off the Third Street Promenade on the corner of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue, ICE at Santa Monica is an outdoor ice skating rink that is open from Nov. 3 - January 21st (MLK Day). Skate rental is $12, and the rink is open 2 pm - 10pm on Weekdays (Midnight on Fridays), 10 am - Midnight on Saturdays, and 10 am - 10 pm on Sundays.

 
Explore Deeper into Santa Monica
Bike Path - The Strand
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The Beach
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Main Street
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Sunset
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Universal Studios
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Airport
Transportation
Temescal Canyon
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J.R. Seafood Restaurant
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Off The Beaten Path
El Cholo
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Starbucks Coffee
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Information / Sources
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City Views
Off The Beaten Path
Third Street Promenade
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Santa Monica Beach
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Santa Monica Pier
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Bravissimo Cafe and Pizzeria
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Farmer's Market
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Located at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel Bungalows
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Warnings and Dangers
Test Drive a Tesla!
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Best Outdoor Space Ever!
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Twisted Trees
Off The Beaten Path
No Smoking on the Pier!
Warnings and Dangers
Topiary Dinosaurs
Off The Beaten Path
Bells and Books of Knowledge
Off The Beaten Path
1908 Cannon
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The Dolphin Change Program Marker
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On the Pier with views~
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Santa Monica Pier Kiosk
Favorites
Bathrooms
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See a Most Unusual Public Art Piece Up Close
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Go from LAX to Santa Monica via Big Blue Bus!
Transportation
Map of Santa Monica

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