9 Best Things to Do in Santa Monica, CA

9 Best Things to Do in Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica, California, is more than just a lively beach destination; it’s a vibrant community brimming with adventures and unparalleled ocean views. A gem along the Pacific Ocean, this city offers a unique blend of laid-back beach vibes and sophisticated urban living. Whether you’re a tourist seeking your next excursion or a new resident checking out Santa Monica homes, the city provides a plethora of activities to suit every interest.

Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Santa Monica, ensuring you can fully experience all the charm and excitement this seaside city has to offer.

1. Visit the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is not only an iconic symbol of the city but also an energetic hub of entertainment. Home to Pacific Park, an amusement park featuring a solar-powered Ferris wheel that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the pier is a must-visit. Enjoy a ride on the historic carousel, explore classic arcade games, enjoy live music, or watch the trapeze artists. As the sun sets, the pier becomes a picturesque spot that's perfect for capturing stunning photographs against the vibrant sky.

2. Relax on Santa Monica Beach

Stretching for 3.5 miles, Santa Monica Beach is a vast canvas where locals and visitors alike come to soak up the shimmering California sun. The beach is well-maintained, with plenty of space to lay out a towel and relax in the great weather. For the more active beachgoers, there are designated areas for beach volleyball, surfing, and swimming. The bike path, known as The Strand, runs parallel to the beach and is perfect for biking, jogging, or rollerblading against the backdrop of the ocean breeze.

3. Explore the Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-only shopping district in downtown Santa Monica that’s known for its eclectic mix of retail stores, entertaining street performers, and bustling atmosphere. This open-air shopping paradise offers everything from high-end boutiques to local craft markets. After shopping, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes that line the streets, offering everything from quick bites to gourmet fare.

4. Hike the Santa Monica Mountains

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Santa Monica Mountains offer a scenic escape with numerous hiking trails that provide stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding areas. Popular trails include the Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak, which is the highest point in the range. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, the mountains are a refreshing getaway from the urban environment.

5. Visit the Santa Monica Farmers Market

Experience the local flavor at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, where you can indulge in the freshest produce, gourmet goods, and organic products directly from local farmers. The Downtown Santa Monica Farmers Market operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. along Arizona Avenue. It's a fantastic opportunity to connect with your neighbors, enjoy some delicious food, and even pick up some unique gifts.

6. Discover the Santa Monica Arts Scene

Santa Monica is home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and creative institutions. The Bergamot Station Arts Center, a former rail stop, now houses around 20 galleries where you can view and purchase work from local and international artists. Additionally, the Santa Monica Museum of Art offers hundreds of remarkable exhibitions and is a must-visit for contemporary art lovers.

7. Enjoy the Nightlife

As the sun goes down, Santa Monica’s nightlife springs to life. The city offers a variety of bars, clubs, and lounges to suit any mood. From upscale rooftop bars where you can sip cocktails while overlooking the ocean to cozy speakeasies that transport you back in time, there’s something for everyone. Live music venues are also plentiful, offering a chance to catch up-and-coming bands and well-known artists alike.

8. Learn to Surf

What’s a visit to California without trying your hand at surfing? Santa Monica’s consistent waves make it an ideal place to learn. Several surf schools along the beach offer lessons for all ages and skill levels. Not only is it a fun and exhilarating experience, but it also provides a great workout.

9. Bike Along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Also known as The Strand, the Marvin Braude Bike Trail is a 22-mile paved route that runs along the coastline from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance. Rent a bike from one of the many rental shops in Santa Monica and enjoy a leisurely ride with breathtaking views as a backdrop. The path is mostly flat, making it accessible for cyclists of all levels.

Santa Monica offers a dynamic blend of fun activities that highlight its natural spaces and vibrant community spirit. Whether you’re exploring the historic pier, enjoying the local arts, hiking in the mountains, or relaxing by the waves, Santa Monica promises a memorable experience for all. If you’re ready to begin your journey in Santa Monica real estate, consult trusted Realtor® Sam Palmer for guidance.