Santa Monica, a city on the beach located in Los Angeles, named after the Christian saint Monica, is bordered on three sides by Brentwood, Venice and Los Angeles. With it being located in California, the climate lends itself to nearly year round sun shine. With its beaches, ocean side attractions and historic landmarks, there are many tourists’ attractions in Santa Monica that appeal to kids and families alike.
10. Muscle Beach
Considered by many to be the birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the 1930’s, Muscle Beach promotes healthy living and exercise. It played a key role in establishing fit culture in America and helped create the body builder and strength lifting sub cultures. Along with the history that goes with the place, Muscle Beach today features an expansive outdoor gym complete with free weights and machines for visitors to pump iron and get in shape. While this may not be an ideal family destination, it is perfect for the individuals who love fitness with a view.
9. The Third Street Promenade
Located down town, the Third Street Promenade is an upscale shopping and entertainment complex. Being the heart of down town, the Promenade has something for everyone from fine dining to cinema and hotels and live shows. If you are planning on going down town, this would be the ideal central hub for the family to stay. With ten hotels, it is easy to get around down town and always return home with something to do. Starting November 1st, ICE, an indoor skating event, returns to the corner of 5th and Arizona Avenue. For three months an 8,000 square foot ice rink transforms the beach town and gives it a slice of winter fun.
8. Palisades Park.
This 26.4 acre park offers the perfect low key destination. This city landmark offers a beautiful view as well as several destinations including a rose garden, beacon overlook, and picnic areas and public access gyms. Like other places to visit in Santa Monica, Palisades Park is beach side fun for any type of trip. There are also drop-in events like soccer where visitors can sign up for a lot and play games after 8:30pm. The park extends for about a mile and a half from The Pier and the state beach. This is a perfect rest area when exploring the city. Check out the park’s website for information on special events.
7. Museum of Flying
Opened in 1974, the Museum of Flying proudly displays a history of aeronautics and flight by showcasing 22,000 square feet of planes, parts and history. Now located at the airport, the museum features airplanes from different ears on display that visitors can observe. There is an interactive area where visitors can sit in the cockpit of a Lockheed T-33. The museum is open from Friday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children, senior tickets (65 and older) are $8. The museum offers specials and discounts such as half priced tickets after 3pm Monday through Friday.
6. Bergamot Station.
Santa Monica is much more than sun and sandy beaches. Bergamot Station is home to many art galleries in the L.A area. The station features over 30 art galleries featuring contemporary and historic artists alike. There is no charge for admission into the center, but one must check up with a particular gallery and check if there is an admission charge. The station is always changing its exhibits, so check their website to see what is currently being shown. With the amount of art galleries available, any lover of art would have a great time viewing the galleries at the Bergamot Station.
5. Santa Monica Mountains
While fun the sun is what people think of when they travel to L.A, hidden in plain sight is the great wilderness of the mountains. This is the city slicker’s gateway to the mountains where one can witness the different wild life in the area such as bobcats, mountain lions and even dolphins (when you reach the sea of course). You can enjoy a rare experience of climbing the mountains near the Pacific Ocean. The Mountains offers all of the outdoor activities one could except such as hiking, biking, camping, and horseback riding. It doesn’t cost a thing to drive up and see the mountains, but check with the parks department for parking and events.
4. Sight Seeing Tours.
Like many places in California, Santa Monica is known for the sights and the tours. There are a plethora of guided tours families and individuals can take when visiting the L.A area. The Amazing LA tours is a popular guided tour located in the Third Street Promenade where guides take you to all the must see land marks and destinations in L.A. Active Day Tours, located on Lincoln Blvd, is another service geared more towards the wilderness than the city life from learning how to surf to hot air balloon rides over the city. There is an array of star line tours to take you around the city via single or double decker bus. It is a guaranteed fun activity when visiting L.A. where the big stars live.
3. Santa Monica State Beach
This grand destination is one of the best tourist attractions in Santa Monica. Three miles long and 245 acres, beach brings in people from across the country. Attractions include The Pier and the Annenberg Community Beach House. In addition to the constant sun and cool waves, the beach’s attractions also include beach volley ball, a bike path, and on site surfing instruction classes where a city appointed surf instructor holds classes for all ages. The beach’s amenities include concessions, a list of restaurants and hotels and a variety of sports equipment rentals.
2. Pacific Park
Located on The Pier, this amusement park is one of the go to destinations during your stay. It is Westcoast’s only amusement park that is located on a pier. There are rides and games galore in this carnival style theme park. The park’s biggest attractions are Pacific Wheel, which is a 130 foot solar powered Ferris wheel (the first of its kind), and the West Coaster, the only ocean front steel roller coaster. Once you and the kids have your fill of rides, the park also features an array of carnival games of skill and chance (but mostly chance) like ski ball, mini hoops and whack-a-mole. Tickets are either $4-$8 per ride, or one can purchase and unlimited wrist band for $28.95, which is the best value if you plan on staying all day.
1. Santa Monica Pier.
The final destination for anyone should be The Pier. Created in 1909, this double jointed pier has stood as a city landmark and has been the number one attraction for tourists from around the world. Many of the destinations on this list are in or around the area from Pacific Park to The State Beach. Aside from Pacific Park, the Pier is a jack of all trades for entertainment and fun. Major attractions include the aquarium, Playland Arcade, and free historical walking tours. It doesn’t cost a thing to enter and it is always open year round, although each individual business has its own hours so check the official website for more info, so plan your trip accordingly. As an end destination, this place is perfect for a family weekend outing, a friend’s night on the town or a romantic date night.
This is just a small list of the things to do in Santa Monica, but there is something here for any traveler. If you bring the kids or a loved one or if you are by yourself you can have fun in this city. The weather, while constantly sunny, is also pretty hot, so make sure you bring your sunscreen and hydrate yourself. Many destinations are within walking distance if you are down town, so driving may not be essential to your stay.