People walking under lite up trees on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Like a Local

Looking for things to do in Santa Monica? We’re the perfect beach town, offering a balance of seaside charm and coastal sophistication. At just 8.3 square miles, the city is walkable, laid back and full of attractions, so you’ll wonder what’s next.

Your itinerary can be as busy or as casual as you like: fill your days with museum-hopping and world-class shopping, or relax on the beach and watch the world go by. Here are some of our top Santa Monica attractions and activities.

1. Santa Monica Farmers Markets

Santa Monica’s Farmers Markets have had a tremendous impact on the Los Angeles dining scene over the past 34 years and were named some of the best markets in the United States by Travel + Leisure.

Santa Monica Farmers Market Downtown
Man and woman laughing at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

There are four weekly farmers markets in Santa Monica where you can rub shoulders with yoga students, businessmen, celebrities, famous chefs and families while you pick up some of the country’s most unique and beautiful produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, nuts, fish and more.

Many local restaurants in Santa Monica shape their menu around what is in season and readily available from the farmers’ markets, so you’ll have a chance to try amazing foods when you eat at local kitchens!

2. Happy Hours With An Ocean Breeze

Dozens of restaurants offer happy hours in Santa Monica, giving you the perfect opportunity to sample Santa Monica’s award-winning dining at a fraction of the cost, watch a beautiful sunset and meet our friendly Santa Monica residents.

Ask a local where to grab a drink and they’ll surely recommend some of Santa Monica’s hidden gems that combine great weather and a killer happy hour.

3. Get Around Via Bike

At just 8.3 square miles, Santa Monica is a bicyclist’s paradise. Now that Santa Monica is home to Santa Monica Bike Center, a large full-service bike center, visitors can live like a local by embracing the eco-friendly lifestyle of this active and progressive community. With bike-friendly streets that have well-marked bike lanes and routes, biking has become one of the most scenic and economical ways to navigate the city.

4. Buy Local Santa Monica Products

Santa Monica is home to eight different neighborhoods for shopping, all with their own vibe and flavor. Many locals own small clothing stores, art galleries, restaurants and more.

Support these locals by stopping into their businesses, hearing their stories and buying locally. Discover our faves by checking out our shopping local guide.

5. Soak Up Local Art & Culture

An urban outpost for cutting-edge arts and culture, Santa Monica is home to more than museums, art galleries, live theaters and public art displays. Drop by Bergamot Station, Southern California’s largest art complex and cultural center, to check out works by local artists, designers and photographers.

If performing arts is more your style, check out the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at Santa Monica College or one of the many local performing arts venues. You can also stroll and see free art when you check out Santa Monica’s murals – over 130 street artworks in just 8.3 square miles!

6. Protect Our Beach and Bay

The Santa Monica community cares deeply about preserving the beach and its surrounding bay. Santa Monica locals work hard to keep it clean and safe and regularly work in conjunction with the Heal the Bay organization to do so. Help protect the beach you came to visit by learning more about Heal the Bay.

santa monica beach

Check out the hub of its conservation efforts in Southern California, the Heal The Bay Aquarium. And don’t forget to keep the natural beauty of Santa Monica alive and well by cleaning up after yourself, your family and your pets while visiting the area!

7. Work Up A Sweat

Santa Monica locals are known for their attention to a fit and active lifestyle, and wellness is at the top of a local’s to-do list. While in town, make sure to take advantage of the abundance of outdoor spaces, winding bike paths, parks and running trails that Santa Monicans use regularly as their very own outdoor gym.

Annenberg Community Beach House

Explore even more unexpected and unusual ways to stay healthy during your trip with flying trapeze lessons on the Santa Monica Pier or stand-up paddle board classes at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

8. Catch Some Waves

With the Pacific Ocean in their front yard, many Santa Monica locals hit the waves daily. With great weather year-round, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding are great ways to stay active and enjoy the beach at the same time.

Whether you’re already a pro or looking for your first surf lesson, Santa Monica offers a great time for all experience levels.

Surf Like The Locals
Surf Lessons Santa Monica

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Explore itineraries, local tips, hot spots and curated adventures to make sure you get the most out of your Santa Monica experience.

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