No matter what time of year you visit Santa Monica you can expect consistently mild weather and a relaxed, outdoor-focused lifestyle. But the question remains about what to pack for vacation. To ensure that you’re packing the right clothes, accessories, and other essentials in your travel bag, it helps to have an idea of what Santa Monica locals wear.
Because Santa Monica is located right on the beach, everyday style tends to be more casual and laid-back than it is in other Los Angeles neighborhoods. During warmer days, you’ll see plenty of people wearing tee shirts or tank tops, shorts, and stylish sportswear as they stroll along the Third Street Promenade or explore the shops on Montana Avenue. As the temperature cools in the evenings, locals often switch to jeans; many women complete their look with a light sweater or a wrap. Depending upon the season in which you’re visiting, you may want to bring a jacket; winter nights can dip below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). It’s a good idea to layer your clothing so you can remove extra pieces if temperatures are a bit warmer than you expect, but sweaters and hoodies are widely available at one of Santa Monica’s many unique boutiques. By Shannon O'Donnell
When considering what to pack on vacation to Santa Monica, don’t forget your swimsuit! After all, you are going to the beach. The ocean may be too cold for swimming in regular trunks during winter months, but you’ll see plenty of people wearing a wetsuit for added warmth (you can rent these from surf shops along the waterfront). From late spring to early fall, however, you definitely can swim in a bikini or swim shorts. If you have a wildly printed bathing suit that’s too loud for the community pool at home, this is your time to wear it and show off some personality. Women also might want to carry a lightweight cover-up to use when they want to visit the snack stand or wander over to the Pier.
A Night Out
Planning a big night out during your Santa Monica vacation? Most Santa Monica restaurants, bars, and clubs have a casual dress code. However, you still should pack at least one dressy outfit—a pair of non-denim pants and a collared shirt for the guys; a dress and stylish accessories for women. No restaurants in Santa Monica require a coat and tie. Opt for a dress that can transition easily from day to nighttime; a maxi (long) dress works well with sandals while browsing the Farmers’ Market, but it also looks chic when paired with bold jewelry and wedge heels after the sun goes down.
Pack a smaller purse or day bag to carry your belongings. With so much walking to do, a big tote or large leather purse only will weigh you down. It’s best to go with something lighter, preferably with a shoulder or cross-body strap to keep your hands free. This get-up also makes it easier to snap pictures!
Comfortable and Car Free
Comfortable shoes are essential when packing for Santa Monica. Because the city encompasses just 8.3 square miles, you can get almost everywhere you want to go on foot (which makes it tempting to bring nothing more than flip-flops). Pack a pair or two of sandals, but make sure you also have something that can stand up to long hours browsing the galleries, shopping Santa Monica Place, or taking in the sights and sounds at the Santa Monica Pier. Save dressier shoes for nights out in Santa Monica.
No matter what season you visit Santa Monica, be sure to pack a pair of sunglasses, a cap or sunhat, and a bottle of sunscreen. The sun’s rays can be very strong, even when temperatures are lower or the day is overcast. You’ll want to protect your eyes from the glare and your skin from potential sunburn. Even if you tend to tan easily, it’s always a safe bet to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you leave your hotel room—and then again every two hours that you’re outside. If you get inspired to take a dip in the Pacific during your stay (and we can almost bet you will) you’ll be glad to have a little extra SPF in your Santa Monica day bag.