As soon as you reach Santa Monica, the urban sprawl of Los Angeles seems to evaporate into the ocean and the mountains. That classic postcard image of Southern California is encapsulated in this beachside city, complete with a touch of affluence and a healthy dose of traffic.
However, we have no qualms about taking the 10 or PCH. Instead, we’re here to help you make the most of your time in Santa Monica, especially during the low-traffic hours of early morning, late afternoon, and night.
Where Can You Find the Best Santa Monica Lodgings?
The Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, two of Santa Monica’s largest shopping areas, make Downtown Santa Monica one of the city’s liveliest neighborhoods. Weekends see an influx of both locals and visitors walking along the Third Street Promenade.
What Kind of Food Does Santa Monica Specialize in?
We’re in Santa Monica today, a Westside hub known for its picturesque Third Street Promenade and world-famous pier.
Santa Monica is often overlooked as a great place to eat, but if you dig a little deeper you can find everything from roasted goat to grilled pig’s tails and classic Italian subs.
Santa Monica is More Expensive than New York City?
New York, New York, vs. Santa Monica, California, in Terms of Cost of Living. To keep up the same standard of living that would require $9,800.0 in New York, NY, you would need around $8,069.6 per month to rent similarly priced housing in Santa Monica, CA.
Best Places to Visit in Santa Monica
The best sights and activities in Santa Monica should be at the top of your list when planning a trip to Southern California.
1. The Park at Palisades
This park on the northern coast of Santa Monica offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains.
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This is the picture that most people have of the Los Angeles shore in their minds. Keep away from the Santa Monica Pier area, where the crowds are thickest, and head instead for the end closer to the Pacific Palisades, past the stately concrete sculpture at Wilshire and the colorful totem pole at San Vicente.
2. Market Place in Santa Monica, California
Don’t bother asking the server where the amazingly fresh vegetables on your plate came from the next time you’re dining in a local restaurant. We’ll save you some time by giving you the answer: it’s Santa Monica’s Farmers’ Market.
Even though the market is open on Saturdays and Sundays elsewhere in Santa Monica, the best time to visit is on Wednesday, when it takes over Arizona Avenue from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
3. State Beach in Santa Monica
This massive beach, which stretches the length of Santa Monica, is always bustling with activity and exudes a spirit of summer celebration. The largest crowds congregate near the world-famous Pier, which is the primary draw.
If you’re looking for a place to unwind, get as far away from the pier as you can in either direction. Almost the entire beachfront is equipped with facilities like public restrooms, bike lanes, and paid parking lots.
4. San Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is the hub and focal point of the beach and is home to a wide variety of activities and attractions.
The historic Looff Hippodrome is home to the Pacific Park’s carousel and roller coaster as well as a wide variety of carnival games, an aquarium, and a classic carousel. The Pier also hosts outdoor music and film events on a regular basis, drawing a younger, trendier crowd to the boardwalk.
5. Santa Monica’s Independent Film Venue, the Aero Theatre
The Aero Theatre has been showing movies since the 1940s and is proud of its long history and legacy. It shows both classic and newer, independent films. This Art Deco landmark also plays host to director appearances and lectures on occasion.
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The Aero is run by American Cinematheque, which also schedules shows at the Los Feliz Theatre and the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, both of which moviegoers should check out once their renovations are complete.
6. The Muscle Beach
This adult playground has provided Santa Monica’s biggest and burliest with a place to work up a sweat and show off for the better part of a century.
Weekends are the best time to see world-class gymnasts in action on the uneven bars, parallel bars, and ring swings. Despite the testosterone-filled atmosphere, the locals are welcoming and won’t mind if you join in the action or simply observe from the sidelines.
7. McCabe’s Guitar Shop
McCabe’s is a well-known guitar shop in the daytime, with a small, intimate performance space in the back where musicians can show off their talents.
Even if you don’t want to see a show, you should stop by on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to admire the dozens of stunning guitars that adorn the walls.
Santa Monica is the most popular beach in the greater Los Angeles area. It’s a lovely city with a long stretch of beach and year-round sunshine.
More than seven million tourists visit the city each year because of its convenient location within a mere 15 miles of Los Angeles’s central business district.