Santa Monica Bucket List: 12 Attractions You Can’t Miss!

Santa Monica: More Than Just a Beach Town! Discover the Top 12 Attractions

If you’re looking for a beach in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is your best bet. It’s a lovely city with a long stretch of coastline and year-round sunshine. More than seven million people visit each year because of how close it is to Los Angeles proper (less than 15 miles away).

There is an obvious feeling of excitement in the air in Santa Monica right now. The crashing waves on its western boundary provide a source of energy, and the city’s pedestrian-friendly central business center hums with activity late into the night.

The greatest way to soak in the city’s maritime vibe is at Palisades Park, which is located on a hill over the Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica State Beach.

And no trip to Santa Monica is complete without a stroll down the pier, which marks the end of Historic Route 66 at the ocean. Many people’s idea of a “vacation” in Southern California is a stroll down this boardwalk, complete with amusement park rides and seaside vistas that stretch on for miles.

Top 12 attractions in Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Incorporate these top Santa Monica attractions into your itinerary for your next trip to Southern California.

  1. Santa Monica Pier
  2. Santa Monica State Beach
  3. Third Street Promenade
  4. Marvin Braude Bike Trail
  5. Palisades Park
  6. Santa Monica Farmers Market
  7. Annenberg Community Beach House
  8. Montana Avenue
  9. Santa Monica Place
  10. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  11. Santa Monica Stairs
  12. Tongva Park

Santa Monica Pier

If you’re in Santa Monica, you must take a stroll down the pier. The famous pier extends into the bay and features several restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, such as a theme park, arcade, aquarium, and more.

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier

Although Santa Monica has had several piers throughout the years, the one now in use goes back to 1909 and features both vintage attractions like a carousel and newer, more up-to-date ones. The pier is not only a terrific area to shop and eat but also to fish, people-watch, and see a breathtaking sunset.

You can’t visit Los Angeles and not visit Santa Monica Pier, which has been featured in countless movies, TV series, and even computer games. This place is surely one of the best attractions in all of Santa Monica.

Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica Beach, which runs along the bay’s dazzling waves, is one of the best places in the world to soak up some rays and relax on the beach. It’s about 3 miles long and packed with fun things to do, including water sports, beach games, playgrounds, picnic spaces, and the iconic pier.

The large beach is well-known for its powdery beaches, pleasant weather, and plenty of attractions, drawing in both locals and visitors. You may play volleyball on its courts or ride your bike along its bike path in addition to sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.

The beach is conveniently located near a wide variety of excellent eateries, as well as the allure of Pacific Park’s amusement rides and the nearby piers. This beach is one of the top attractions you get to visit in Santa Monica.

Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-friendly commercial corridor running through the center of Santa Monica’s historic downtown. The area is well-known for its exciting nightlife, with several bars, clubs, restaurants, and stores to enjoy, which is also known as one of Santa Monica’s attractions.

Third Street Promenade
Third Street Promenade

Across three city blocks, you’ll find a dizzying array of one-of-a-kind shops and upscale department stores, as well as delectable cafés and restaurants. The pedestrian promenade also features a number of theaters and bars for an evening out.

The boulevard has a beautiful appearance because of all the public artworks, fountains, and trees; the street performers and entertainers give it a vibrant ambiance.

Marvin Braude Bike Trail

The Santa Monica Bike Path, sometimes known as “The Strand” by locals, passes through several breathtaking coastal areas. The paved bike route is 20 miles long and winds its way down the coast of Santa Monica Bay, providing spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

The walkway began in 1989 and has since expanded to connect Torrance County Beach in the south to Will Rogers State Beach in the north. As you leisurely pedal down the trail, you’ll see famous landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier and Marina Del Rey, as well as a wealth of other attractions, parks, beaches, and restaurants.

Santa Monica’s Bike Path also links it to other seaside towns like Venice seaside and Manhattan Beach. Biking through this path is one of Santa Monica’s top attractions.

Palisades Park

Palisades Park is a popular spot to chill or engage in outdoor activities, and it stretches along much of Santa Monica State Beach and Ocean Avenue. It is conveniently located near several of Santa Monica’s top attractions and features breathtaking views of the Pacific.

Palisades Park
Palisades Park

The beautiful park stretches for more than a mile and a half, and it features tall palm trees and pines interspersed with concrete walking lanes. Park chairs, picnic tables, petanque courts, and even a rose garden may be found among the park’s many trees and flowers.

The sunsets from this clifftop park are nothing short of stunning, and it also has some intriguing historic sites, such as a Civil War cannon and a Native American totem pole.

Santa Monica Farmers Market

The fantastic Santa Monica Farmers Market has the best selection of locally grown veggies and delicious street cuisine in the area. The massive market is exciting to wander around on any of the three market days (Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays) throughout the year.

Since its opening in 1979, the market has been a popular destination for residents, visitors, chefs, and celebrities in search of high-quality products and other things made in the area. Here and there, you’ll find cafes and food carts serving tasty delicacies.

Main Street and Arizona Avenue hold the largest and greatest of the markets, although they are now hosted all across the city due to their success. The lively Santa Monica Farmers Market, where you can listen to live music and try or buy delicious, locally-grown vegetables, is not to be missed.

Annenberg Community Beach House

Annenberg Community Beach House is located right on the city’s beautiful sands and is home to a wide variety of exciting events and activities. The amazing complex is located just north of the city center and pier, and it features playgrounds, a pool, volleyball courts, and tennis courts.

Annenberg Community Beach House
Annenberg Community Beach House

Marion Davies had this magnificent estate constructed for her in 1929, and she used it to entertain Hollywood’s elite during the Golden State’s Gold Coast era. The ancient pool, elegant guesthouse, and beautiful gardens are all that is left of the home after its demolition, and they are reminiscent of the roaring twenties.

The modern public beach facility is a great spot to take it easy, do some activities, or just take in the beautiful scenery and atmosphere. If you are looking for a place to relax a bit and enjoy the sunshine, you have to visit this place which is also one of the main attractions in Santa Monica.

Montana Avenue

With more than 150 one-of-a-kind shops and excellent eateries, Montana Avenue is an attraction of Santa Monica for city residents and visitors alike. From Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue to Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood, this beautiful tree-lined roadway has it all.

The vast majority of the long road is occupied by enormous private houses. However, between Seventh and Seventeenth Streets in Santa Monica, you’ll find many thriving commercial establishments. Coffee shops, fine dining establishments, unique stores, and spas are all easily accessible here.

Montana Avenue is well-known as a hotspot for A-listers due to its exciting atmosphere, superb food options, and plenty of stores and outdoor cafés.

Santa Monica Place

The large outdoor Santa Monica Place Shopping Center is another one of the city’s primary attractions and shopping destinations. Located in the heart of the city, a short distance from the pier, this three-story shopping and dining complex also features a movie theater.

Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica Place

The mall, which originally opened in 1980 and was renovated and reopened in 2010, is mostly occupied by high-end retailers such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Emporio Armani. You may also find stores providing cosmetics, accessories, and jewelry in addition to high-end clothing retailers.

The third level is home to several high-quality eating options, such as The Dudes’ Brewing Company and The Cheesecake Factory, all of which provide breathtaking views from their outdoor patios.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Just a short drive to the northwest of the city is the massive Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. There are more than twenty individual parks here, and they feature everything from beaches and mountains to canyons, valleys, and woods.

The park has expanded greatly since it was first formed in 1978 and is currently the largest urban national park in the whole globe. Some parks are located near the Pacific coast’s protected coves and beaches, while others are tucked away in the highlands or valleys.

The national recreation area is an attraction for locals and visitors of Santa Monica alike, thanks to its stunning natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. You may also go nature viewing and see amazing historical and archaeological sites.

Santa Monica Stairs

The Santa Monica Stairs are a must-see for every visitor to the city as it is one of Santa Monica’s main attractions. Both the wooden one (170 steps) and the cement one (199 steps) are placed in beautiful, verdant surroundings, making them ideal for a tough outdoor workout.

Santa Monica Stairs
Santa Monica Stairs

Less than a mile from the beach, the steps may be found in a quiet residential area. Once a well-kept secret among Santa Monica locals, they have since gained widespread acclaim among tourists.

Tongva Park

This expansive public park is packed with plants, sculptures, and the scent of the ocean, and it spans six acres along Ocean Avenue, south of the Santa Monica Pier. It’s perfect for a quiet afternoon picnic away from the bustle of the beach, and it’s also a nice place to take a vacation from the city.

Newly installed Ken Genser Square is an additional acre of green space next to Tongva Park, complete with a fountain and a babbling river. This place is, without a doubt, one of the best attractions in all of Santa Monica.

Tongva Park
Tongva Park

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