Santa Monica, California is located just 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles, making it the ideal beachside destination for any business traveler visiting LA for a corporate event. And, with such beautiful weather and so many things to do, you’ll find it the perfect counterbalance to your meetings. Whether you’re visiting Santa Monica or the Los Angeles area for business or for an extended stay, you can’t go wrong with a visit to any of the highlights in our guide of things to do in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Restaurants
From delicate French cuisine to the humble taco, it’s all good!
Tar & Roses
At Tar & Roses, it’s best to leave expectations at the door – that is, unless you’re expecting a revolutionary dining experience. Chef Andrew Kirschner has a habit of keeping his guests guessing, and as a result, his restaurant is always a packed house. Here, you’ll find perfectly executed dishes incorporating ingredients that most other places shy away from, like venison and lamb heart.
602 Santa Monica Blvd.
At Rustic Canyon, Chef Jeremy Fox brilliantly displays on a nightly basis why some of the world’s foremost chefs admire him. Every few days, he creates an almost entirely new menu from whatever ingredients are in-season at the time (barring a few traditional favorites), so the dining experience here is different and fresh with every visit. Rustic Canyon opened in 2013, and every year, the restaurant has outdone its accomplishments from the year prior.
1119 Wilshire Blvd.
If there’s one restaurant drawing a lot of attention in Santa Monica, it’s Cassia. Sure, Cassia is a big, fashion-forward restaurant, but all of that is just window dressing to the real star of the place, the food. Led by Chef Bryant Ng, Cassia offers a unique blend of French and Vietnamese culinary styles; two identities that you might not think go well together, but under Ng’s masterful direction, they do – and boy, what a delicious blending it is!
1314 Seventh St.
Among Santa Monica’s foodies, Father’s Office is often considered the LA area’s original gastropub. For first-timers, Chef Sang Yoon’s strict ordering rules can be intimidating, but come here often enough and you’ll find the rules are just part of its charm. And, with such tantalizing food (including one of the best burgers you’ll ever eat) and one of the city’s best beer selections, you will make Father’s Office a regular stop every time you’re in town.
1018 Montana Ave.
Tacos Punta Cabras
Not every meal in Santa Monica has to be so serious. That’s why we included Tacos Punta Cabras as one of our top restaurants. In this tiny taco shop, you’ll find some of the tastiest tacos around, and one of the liveliest dining rooms. You might be surprised to discover that it’s the only restaurant you’ll find that can make you dream about tofu tacos. Get there early though, because, by lunchtime, you’ll find the crowd is spilling out onto Santa Monica Boulevard.
2311 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica Attractions
Not your usual collection of things to do
Santa Monica Pier
No visit to Santa Monica is complete without a visit to the legendary Santa Monica Pier, where the red and yellow Ferris wheel is an iconic fixture. Together with the famous 1922 Looff Hippodrome Carousel, which serves as the anchor ride for the Pacific Park amusement park at the pier, these two icons have seen their fair share of history. With plenty of restaurants, shops, arcades, and other amenities, the Santa Monica Pier is one of the best ways to spend a day off at the beach.
200 Santa Monica Pier
Named after a flower that once flourished in the area, Bergamot Station has been called the largest art gallery complex and cultural center in the southern California region. It sits on eight acres and is home to a wide variety of contemporary art galleries, as well as the Sculpture Foundation, Skidmore Contemporary Art, the Peter Fetterman Gallery, together with a cafe and several other popular amenities.
2525 Michigan Ave.
Camera Obscura Art Lab
Located in Santa Monica’s famous Palisades Park, the Camera Obscura Art Lab lets adults harness their creative sides through a wide variety of workshops, hands-on crafts, art, and cultural programs. If you want to take a quick class on how to take better photographs or how to paint a landscape, Camera Obscura has the programs you’re looking for to help feed the right side of your brain.
1450 Ocean Ave.
California Heritage Museum
Want to learn more about the city you’re visiting? The California Heritage Museum is a multicultural museum that celebrates and honors the history and cultures of the people that make up Santa Monica’s diverse community. The museum is located in the 1894 Roy Jones house, which is a National Landmark itself. The museum’s permanent exhibits include photographs of the home’s remarkable relocation to Main Street, the Jones family, and the historic Ostrich Farm that in 1893 made up a large portion of Ocean Park.
2612 Main St.
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium can be found directly below the famous carousel at the pier. In it, you’ll discover an underwater world filled with more than 100 species of native marine animals and plants. It’s a remarkable exhibit that truly opens your eyes to the marvels of nature found right in the Santa Monica Bay. Given its stated intent for generating scientific curiosity and environmental responsibility, the Aquarium certainly makes for an inspiring way to spend a portion of your day.
1600 Ocean Front Walk
Santa Monica Recreation
Year-round recreation in the most scenic of locations
Santa Monica Beach
Hands down, the single most popular place to visit in Santa Monica is its famous namesake beach. With its vast sandy beaches, Santa Monica Beach is the ideal spot to slow down, relax, and catch some rays. But, it’s also a favorite among surfers and boogie boarders. So whether you want to learn how to surf or you’re an old hand at the sport, you’ll find the Santa Monica Beach to be the perfect way to unwind after a day full of stuffy corporate meetings. If surfing isn’t your thing, you’ll also find beach volleyball and bike trails here.
Ocean Ave. at Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica Street Art Bike Tour & Others
Love biking and art? Then you’re going to love the Santa Monica Street Art Bike Tour. This fun and sociable tour takes you through Santa Monica’s artsier side and the trendy neighborhoods of Venice Beach. Along the way, you’ll come across a colorful array of characters, sights, and sounds on this three-hour tour. Or, if art isn’t your thing, you can choose the Main Street Eats Walking Tour or the Urban Farming Tour.
1555 2nd St.
26-Mile Bike Path
The 26-Mile Bath Path starts at the Santa Monica pier and runs along the Pacific Ocean for one of the most scenic biking, jogging, and in-line skating trails on the West Coast. It’s the perfect setting to get in your daily exercise, but it’s equally as ideal for people-watching.
Santa Monica Pier
The Cove is located in Memorial Park and it’s a favorite among skaters, thanks to its 20,000 square feet of ramps, bowls, stairs, over-vert bowl, and Douglas Park rail. There’s even a pool with tile coping for you to risk your neck in. If you love to watch skating or you’re looking for a way to blow off some steam, The Cove is a great place to visit. Protective gear is required.
1401 Olympic Blvd.