Even though most visitors to Los Angeles think of Santa Monica because of its iconic beach and pier, there is much more to see and do in the area. There’s enough to keep any tourist busy for a whole day, a weekend, or even longer, depending on their interests. Whether shopping and nightlife to art appreciation, offbeat museums, and lavish spas, there’s enough to keep any visitor busy for a day, a weekend, or even longer. Santa Monica’s lifestyle emphasizes health and wellbeing, and as a result, the city has become a popular resort for individuals looking to unwind and rejuvenate themselves. It’s also one of the nicest areas in Los Angeles to settle down for a few days and feel like a native.
1. Unleash Your Inner Child at Pacific Park
Pacific Park is a great place to visit if you’re traveling with children or if you’re looking for some nostalgic thrills. The Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel, the West Coaster (an oceanfront steel roller coaster), Shark Frenzy (a shark-themed version of the classic Tilt-A-Whirl ride), Inkie’s Scrambler, a 44-foot tower plunge ride, and a giant swinging wooden ship, among other thrill rides, are all located right on Santa Monica Pier.
Whac-A-Mole, Balloon Bust, Mini Hoops, and Ring Toss are among the kiddie rides available, as are conventional amusement park games like Whac-A-Mole, Balloon Bust, Mini Hoops, and Ring Toss. One of the many onsite eateries and food vendors offers funnel cake, burgers, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream.
2. Day Trip to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Santa Monica and features 157,700 acres of beautiful outdoor beauty and over 500 miles of hiking trails. Mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding, wildflower watching, and camping are all popular activities here. If you want to get away from the busy and commotion of the big metropolis, this picturesque western part of Los Angeles County is a must-see.
3. Spend Some Time At Santa Monica Pier
The famous Pacific Park, as well as the iconic and historic 1920s carousel, which has 44 wooden animals and was portrayed in the classic Paul Newman and Robert Redford film “The Sting,” are both located at Santa Monica Pier. It’s also home to the Heal the Bay Aquarium (more on that later) and the Los Angeles branch of the New York Trapeze School, where you can live out all your circus trapeze fantasies like a pro. There are various eateries to fit every price and taste, in complement to the food court. Summer concerts are occasionally staged on the pier’s enlarged south side, so check the site’s events calendar before arranging your trip.
4. Relax on Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach, which is situated adjacent to the iconic pier, is one of the best places in the Los Angeles area to relax and enjoy the sun, waves, and sand, as well as a variety of other beach activities. Gather a picnic blanket and spend time relaxing by the Pacific, if you choose to read a book or magazine or simply sit and listen to the waves breaking. Stay for the sunset for a genuine treat.
5. Learn About Marine Life at Heal the Bay Aquarium
The Heal the Bay Aquarium, which is situated at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier and is managed as a marine teaching center by the non-profit Heal the Bay, is an excellent site to learn more about Pacific sea life. Heal the Bay Aquarium, while not as huge as the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, nonetheless features more than 100 sea species and plants found in Santa Monica Bay, including several touchable sea critters.
6. Go for a Stroll Along the Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade is one of the top pedestrian retail areas in the Los Angeles area. During the summer, street entertainers generate a joyful atmosphere on evenings, weekends, and every day. While many of the one-of-a-kind shops and food booths that previously made the Promenade so appealing have been replaced by chain businesses and restaurant franchises, it remains a bustling location to visit. From Broadway at Santa Monica Place to Wilshire Blvd., there is a three-block bike lane.
7. Climb the Santa Monica Stairs
Climbing the Santa Monica Stairs is a free sport that attracts fitness enthusiasts looking for solid exercise. From Adelaide Drive at the top to Entrada Drive at the bottom, there are two sets of extremely steep steps. If you look up the Santa Monica Stairs on Google Maps, you’ll be taken to 699 Adelaide, which is the address of the house across from the top of the stairwell shown above. Free street parking is available at both the top and bottom of the hill, but because most people head to Adelaide Drive, it’s sometimes simpler to find space on Entrada Drive and start at the bottom.
8. Walk, Bike, or Skate Your Way Along “The Strand”
The Strand, also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, is a 22-mile paved trail that extends from Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica north to Torrance Beach in the south. There are several places to rent bikes or skates so you may spend an hour or all day bicycling or skating along the several miles of paved beach route that span from Redondo Beach to Malibu. At least three bike and skate rental establishments are located on or near the Santa Monica Pier, each offering a different type of equipment.
9. Try Your Hand at Surfing
Between lifeguard towers 18 and 20, located at Pico Boulevard and Bay Street, and lifeguard towers 28 and 29, located at Ashland Avenue and Pier Street, surfing is permitted. If you’re a novice, intermediate, or expert surfer, there are a variety of surf schools and private teachers, as well as rental equipment, to assist would-be surfers in any state. Before you begin surfing, constantly check in with the lifeguards.
10. Embrace Your Inner Aviation Geek at the Museum of Flying
The Museum of Flying was founded in 1974 by Donald Douglas, Jr., the second president of the Douglas Aircraft Company, and it moved to its current location on the grounds of the Santa Monica Airport in 2012. The museum has various exhibits about the Douglas Aircraft Company, as well as other vintage planes, replicas, and models, including the Douglas DC-3 Spirit of Santa Monica, which you can see out front that was built at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica in 1942. A FedEx airplane cockpit, which you can crawl into for picture ops, is also worth seeing.