Discover holidays in Santa Monica
Santa Monica blends an unmis¬takable California beach town vibe with touches of Riviera-style romance and glamour to create a destination that is truly like nowhere else in the world.
Spend hours unwinding on the golden sands of Santa Monica beach, experience the latest fitness trends or don a pair of rollerblades like a local and glide along its palm-lined sidewalk. After you’ve soaked up the beach’s laid-back vibe, make your way over to Santa Monica Pier to have all the fun of the fair on its retro amusements. Visit in the evening and you’ll be sure to get that Instagram-worthy shot of the Pacific Wheel lighting up the night sky. Or if it’s world-class dining and designer shopping you’re after, head to Downtown Santa Monica for its chic boutiques and mouth-watering restaurants.
The city of Los Angeles is also within easy reach from Santa Monica. You could hop on the metro to Downtown LA to see the sights or catch the bus to Hollywood to sample some of the glitz and glamour for yourself.
No matter what you do on your Santa Monica holiday, you’ll quickly discover that this city is as inspirational as it is irresistible.
Best time to visit: Summer, when there’s no rain and it’s pleasantly warm.
Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is about two miles from the Pacific Ocean and about six miles north of LAX.
Downtown Santa Monica is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Santa Monica, largely because it’s home to the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, two of the largest shopping areas in Santa Monica. At the weekend, Third Street Promenade is bustling with locals and visitors. Although Downtown Santa Monica is home to the most shops, restaurants and hotels in town, it also gives off a friendly, community vibe with its twice-weekly farmers market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings and lively street performers.
Santa Monica’s Main Street shows the laid-back artsy side of Santa Monica, a side of the city that has been characterised by a local, surf vibe for years. Visit the many art galleries and attractions such as the Edgemar Center for the Arts and Mindfulnest, which is one-part art gallery, one-part shop. Main Street has recently seen a rise in its number of international restaurants, such as Jinya Ramen Bar and Aussie Pie Kitchen and is also home to the biggest number of coffee shops in Santa Monica. A variety of boutique shops are scattered along Main Street and a weekly farmers market takes place every Sunday.
The palm tree-lined avenue and views overlooking the Pacific Ocean make the Santa Monica Pier area and Ocean Avenue one of the most iconic locations in Santa Monica. Unique hotels, such as The Georgian and The Shore, are dotted along Ocean Avenue while open-air restaurants and bars, such as Blue Plate Oysterette and The Bungalow, line the sidewalk. Just down from Ocean Avenue is perhaps Santa Monica’s most famous attraction, the Santa Monica Pier. This attraction dates back to 1909, and features a solar-panelled Ferris wheel, amusement park, aquarium, and live concerts and movies during the summer months.
While the Third Street Promenade is the most vibrant shopping area of Santa Monica, you’ll find a range of high-end and local shops along the tree-lined Montana Avenue. Although this is a largely residential area of Santa Monica, there are more than 150 boutique shops and restaurants in this 10-block neighbourhood. There aren't any hotels on Montana Avenue, but you’ll be within walking distance to the hotels in Downtown Santa Monica from here. You could also reach them by bike or the Big Blue Bus, which runs between the Green Line Metro's Aviation Station and Downtown Santa Monica, with a number of different stops.
The long, wide expanse of Santa Monica Beach is set aside from other beaches along the same coastline by the sheer range of activities that can be enjoyed. Both sand and sea are clean and beautiful, allowing for great sunbathing, swimming and surfing. But that’s not all... Enjoy a bike ride with the sound of the waves in your ears, indulge in some seaside chess, get involved in a game of beach volleyball or simply enjoy one of the many outdoor activities offered at the local beach house. And after a day out, be sure not to miss the stunning Santa Monica sunset.
One of the most iconic attractions in Santa Monica, the solar-powered red and yellow Ferris wheel is the symbol of the city. The Pier offers an amusement park with a selection of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops as well as an arcade packed with games. By day enjoy the buzz on the Pier with street performers and cotton candy sellers and then enjoy the views of Malibu and the South Bay in the evening.
Whether you prefer high street brands or haute couture, you’ll find it here. But the real highlight of shopping in Santa Monica is the independent boutiques that reflect the city’s casually sophisticated style. From the quaint little shops of Montana Avenue, to the glittering storefronts of Bloomingdale’s, there is something to suit everyone’s style.