three friends on santa monica beach

What to Wear in Santa Monica | What to Pack

No matter what time of year you visit Santa Monica, you can expect consistently mild weather and a relaxed, outdoor-focused lifestyle. 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. Let us help you pick out your vacation wear!

What Should I Wear to Santa Monica?

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 t-shirts or tank tops, shorts and stylish athleisure as they stroll along the Third Street Promenade or explore the shops on Montana Avenue.

santa monica beach
couple at santa monica

As the temperature cools in the evenings, locals often switch to jeans; many women complete their look with a light jacket or cardigan. Depending on the season you’re planning your trip to Santa Monica, you may want to bring a jacket; winter nights can dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius). It’s a good idea to layer your clothing so you can remove extra pieces if temperatures are a bit warmer than you expect. Don’t worry if you forget something at home; sweaters, hoodies and long sleeve shirts are widely available at one of Santa Monica’s many unique stores.

When considering what to pack on your Santa Monica vacation, don’t forget your swimsuit! From late spring to early fall, you definitely can swim in a bikini or swim shorts. If you have a swimsuit that’s too loud for the community pool at home, now is your time to show it off! You may also want to carry a lightweight cover-up to use for visiting the snack stand or walking the Pier.

santa monica sun bathing

Stay classy

Most Santa Monica restaurants, bars, and clubs have a casual dress code that is perfect for relaxed vacation wear. However, you still should pack at least one upscale outfit—a pair of non-denim pants and a collared shirt, a nice blouse or a dress and stylish accessories.

Be flexible

No restaurants in Santa Monica require a coat and tie. For the ladies, a maxi 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. For the guys, a t-shirt and jeans will be perfect for many occasions. Be sure to pack a light jacket if it gets chilly at night.  

Bring a bag

Pack a smaller purse or day bag to carry your belongings. With so much walking, a big tote or large purse will only weigh you down. Bring a beach bag if you plan on spending some time on the sand. It’s best to go with something lighter, preferably with a shoulder or cross-body strap to keep your hands free and ready to snap pictures!

Packing Shoes for Santa Monica

Comfortable walking shoes are essential when packing for a trip to Santa Monica. Because the city encompasses just 8.3 square miles (21.5 square km), you can get almost everywhere you want to go on foot.

Pack a pair or two of flip-flops to wear on the beautiful Santa Monica beach, but make sure you also have something that can stand up to long hours browsing the galleries, shopping at Santa Monica Place, or taking in the sights and sounds at the Santa Monica Pier. Save dressier shoes for nights out in Santa Monica.

person next to santa monica 66 sign
santa monica pier

Always Pack These Items

No matter what season you visit Santa Monica, be sure to pack the following vacation wear: 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.

If you need a place to store your items or luggage while you explore Santa Monica, Santa Monica Bike Center has lockers available. The cost is $10 per day per item or $5 per day per item with the purchase of a bike rental. All bags and belongings must be collected by close of business, which is 7 p.m. daily.

Download the Bounce app  for additional luggage storage locations in Santa Monica, including both Sand n’ Surf locations, for day, overnight and multi-day storage.