Colourful, artsy, and eclectic, Santa Monica is LA’s coolest beach city. This charismatic and dreamy neighbourhood is a cross-section of wider LA; from the big-shot Hollywood producers and glitzy celebrities to the laid-back surfers and young families, everyone is drawn in by its infectious charm. With plenty of hotels to suit every budget and great connections to the rest of the city thanks to the Metro Expo Line, it’s an amazing location to use as a base to explore the rest of LA. But there’s also plenty to see and do here as well. The heart of the neighbourhood is the famous Santa Monica Pier, but with over 150 museums and galleries sprinkled throughout the streets, a gorgeous stretch of sand to dig your toes into, amazing shopping and world class farm-to-table dining, there’s plenty to keep you busy – and all of it within easy walking distance of each other. Here are some of the coolest ways to experience LA’s premier beach destination.
Cycle, Skate or Segway
The boardwalk that runs the length of the beach begs to be explored. Cycle or skate – no matter what you choose the people watching is fascinating and you’ll be able to whiz between all of Santa Monica’s hot spots. The best option for rentals is Perry’s Café and Rentals, who offer regular, electric, tandem and chopper bikes for rent, as well as skates. For some context to the colourful chaos of Santa Monica, Book onto their ‘Legends Historic Bike Tour’ to hear first-hand about the people and places that have all impacted the area’s fascinating story. If you’re a Segway fan, Segway Los Angeles have a rental on Ocean Ave near the beach as well. They offer a very popular Twilight Tour, where you’ll take in one of the famous fiery sunsets over the Pacific and watch the Santa Monica lights twinkle to life as evening falls.
Kick Back on the Beach
That beautiful stretch of sand gives many an Australian beach a run for their money – it’s no wonder that this is one of the world’s most famous beach destinations. With year-round pleasant weather, it’s ideal for all kinds of activities in the water, but sometimes it’s nice to just kick back with your toes in the sand and watch the surfers tackle some waves. Whatever your inclination, once again Perry’s Café and Rentals is the go-to spot. Whether you need a beach chair and umbrella or a surfboard, they’ve got it. You can even rent out your own personal beach butler to bring you drinks on the sand, an ideal way to polish off that movie script you’ve been working on.
Wine and Dine
The entirety of Santa Monica is relatively small but packs a hard punch when it comes to fine dining. Restaurants around the area offer up a wide variety of styles and prices, and the laid-back beach attitude of the neighbourhood means you won’t need a coat and tie to enjoy the fine foods. As the birthplace of the farm-to-table movement that swept across the world in recent years, it makes sense that the farmers markets here are the best in the country. Ripe for wandering and working up a fiery appetite, there are 4 weekly markets in the neighbourhood that are regularly patrolled by the city’s chefs in search of the freshest produce from the surrounding area. Those looking to get hands on with their food can head to the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savouries where there are cooking classes for all levels, and for the wine connoisseurs, Malibu Discovery offer easy escapes into the hills for the day to some of California’s best wineries.
Shop Until You Drop
Santa Monica manages to balance out its counter-culture surfer vibes by having some of the best shopping in the city, rivalling that of Manhattan and the nearby Beverly Hills. Third Street Promenade is the main thoroughfare boasting all the global brands, anchored at one end by the extravagant Santa Monica Place shopping mall. Start your shopping here with Shop America Tours, offering the perfect packages to compliment any shopping spree in which you’ll not only gain discounts to special discounts at stores across the centre, but get it all combined with other activities around Santa Monica. Nearby is Montana Avenue, another of the neighbourhood’s best shopping areas specialising in high end boutique stores – all of it interspersed with great cafes, restaurants and bars.
Talk to our travel advisers to start planning your next Santa Monica holiday.