Traveler Tips

Jackets not required! One of a collection of helpful suggestions for your Santa Monica visit - from traffic tips to parking advice, from time zone to tipping customs.

Ananeic Dobyne - Hot Dog on a Stick

Tips for Traveling to Santa Monica


Casual and comfortable: Jackets and ties are optional even in Santa Monica's fanciest restaurants, and comfortable walking shoes are a necessity.

Dress in layers: While it's warm during the day, ocean breezes can be cool and once the sun sets, the temperature can drop. A light jacket or sweater is often necessary.

Traffic laws

  • Seat belts are required by law
  • Any child weighing less than 60 pounds must be in a child safety seat, secured by a seat belt
  • A driver is considered legally intoxicated when the blood alcohol level is .08% or higher
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way - cars must stop for them - but may only cross Santa Monica's streets in a marked crosswalk
  • Drivers are required to use hands-free devices when talking on cellphones
  • Bicycles and scooters are legal on city streets and must follow all standard traffic rules
  • On some freeways, the left-most lane is a Diamond-designated lane, for carpools only (i.e., two or more passengers in the car)
  • For up-to-the-minute traffic information, check

Parking in santa monica

Street / Metered Parking: Usually $1/hour with a two-hour time limit. Be sure to read instructions on meters and street signs.

Parking Structures: Ten downtown Santa Monica parking structures offer two hours of free parking each day before 6 pm.

Short-term Beach Parking: Some short-term beach parking lots offer payment via central kiosk.

Valet Parking: Many restaurants and hotels and some businesses offer valet parking for a fee.

Limit the need for parking by attempting to park once and walk, take the Big Blue Bus, or rent a bike or Segway.

For further parking information, including a comprehensive parking map of the city, visit

For up-to-the-minute parking availability, visit

Tipping guidelines

Tipping for many services - and as a gesture of appreciation for anyone who helps make your visit more pleasant - is customary. Gratuities are rarely included in your bill. A few tipping examples:
  • Restaurant, bar, taxi and limo service: 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bill.
  • Hotel doormen, valet parking attendants (pay when you receive your car), and other service personnel:$1-$2 per transaction.
  • Hotel bellmen: $1.50-$3 per bag.
  • Housekeeping staff: $1-$2 per night and $1 more for special services.
  • Hotel concierge: $5-$20 for special service, depending on the service.
  • Airport skycap: $1-$2 per bag for luggage help at baggage claim or when checking in.

santa monica Time Zone

Santa Monica is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-8 GMT). The United States observes Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.

More Southern California Travel Tips

For more information on Santa Monica and additional travel tips, request an Official Santa Monica Visitors Guide.