This beautiful and arty seaside town is both chic and chill
Things to do
Places to Eat & Drink
With nearly four miles of beaches and a vibrant urban scene, Santa Monica blends the sophistication of an international coastal city with the laid-back vibe of a California beach town. Even though it’s only 15 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, it feels like a weekend getaway spot.
Where to Eat in Santa Monica
Celebrated for its dining, Santa Monica is home to restaurants helmed by such renowned chefs as Wolfgang Puck (Chinois on Main), Josiah Citrin (Citrin and Mélisse), as well as a pair of spots recently awarded coveted Michelin stars (Rustic Canyon and Dialogue). Many local chefs buy their produce at the bounteous Wednesday and Saturday morning downtown Farmers Market, which ranks with the country’s very best.
Shopping and Attractions in Santa Monica
Shopping hotspots range from open-air Santa Monica Place to the showcases for major brands that line downtown’s Third Street Promenade, an area made all the more lively by street performers. The stylish boutiques on Montana Avenue are perfect for finding the perfect so-L.A. item to take home, and keep your eyes peeled: This is a great place to spot local celebs. On Main Street shop for unique home goods at Lost and Found.
A cultural hub for Southern California, Santa Monica boasts numerous art galleries all around the city, with the biggest concentration at Bergamot Station, a former railroad station and industrial site where you’ll find leading 20 galleries. For performing arts, the intimate Broad Stage presents notable jazz, classical, and world music performers in concert, and also stages acclaimed theatrical productions.
Fabled Route 66 once traveled along a stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard and reached the terminus of its 2,448-mile run from Chicago near the beach in Santa Monica. A sign commemorates the “end of the trail” on Santa Monica Pier, where you can marvel at amazing coastal views from atop the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel at Pacific Park amusement park. Another remarkable attraction on Santa Monica’s coast is the Annenberg Community Beach House, a stunning public destination that hosts community events and offers beach courts and fields and a pool that was named one of the best public swimming pools in the world by BBC.com.
Getting Around Santa Monica
Rent a bike and cruise down the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, aka “The Strand,” which travels for 22 miles along the coastline between Pacific Palisades and Torrance. Or, turn off The Strand to explore the city via the city’s extensive network of bike lanes. It’s this bike-friendly approach, along with outstanding public transportation on its Big Blue Bus system and an easy connection to downtown Los Angeles via the Metro E Line, that make this environmentally conscious community (in 2022 it earned the Platinum certification under the LEED for Cities program) one of Southern California’s top car-free destinations.
Featured Santa Monica
So You Think You Know Santa Monica?
Yes, the beach is spectacular—but don’t miss the city’s cultural side and its many quirky and hidden treasures