Round up the whole family for an unforgettable summer vacation in sunny Santa Monica!

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (June 10, 2024) – Waves are cresting, days are warm and school is out for the season— nothing says summertime like Santa Monica! With premier access to the Pacific Ocean and a wealth of family-friendly activities (many of which are free), there’s no better place for the young and young-at-heart to enjoy the ultimate summer break.

Where to Play
The Santa Monica Pier is the perfect playground for families to take in soaring views of the glistening ocean while enjoying an arcade, many restaurants, fishing spots, performers and a historic building housing a 100-year-old carousel. Pacific Park offers amusement park rides for all ages, including the world’s first and only solar-powered Ferris Wheel, newly launched food and beverage offerings and countless carnival games. Below the Pier lives the Heal the Bay Aquarium inviting kids to learn more about how we can give back to the ocean and care for our environment while sharing the beauty of local species and immersing guests in marine life through touch tanks and daily educational programs.

The fun continues with a visit to Annenberg Community Beach House, the only public beach house in the nation and a unique gathering place welcoming locals and visitors to come together and enjoy a swim, summer sports, community events and more. The Beach House grounds are free to enter and offer plenty of family facilities including a splash pad, playground and an art gallery for an afternoon of summer fun. Guests can enjoy a game of beach volleyball on the sands where the sport was popularized, or older kids can rent a paddleboard and enjoy a safe, guided ride in the Pacific with stand-up paddleboarding classes. Just steps away on the sand, grab a bite at local favorite restaurant Back on the Beach Café.

Third Street Promenade is another iconic stop in Santa Monica home to shops, restaurants and attractions that appeal to all ages. The Promenade consists of three car-free, pet-friendly blocks with over 80 retailers to explore located along the open-air shopping haven. From California cuisine at 1212 Santa Monica and a lively game of pickleball at Pickle Pop’s indoor courts to shops stocking high-end styles and secondhand finds, options abound for the whole family. Third Street Promenade regularly hosts can’t-miss family events, including this summer’s Pride on the Promenade event welcoming all to celebrate Pride at this family-friendly block party. The Downtown Farmers Market also transforms the Promenade with colorful produce from local farms every Wednesday and Saturday morning, inviting families to explore the freshest ingredients while shopping the latest styles.

Santa Monica’s 32 parks encompassing over 130 acres offer plenty of opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors. The city’s public parks feature unique family facilities including a community learning garden at Isihara Park, sports courts at Ocean View Park and sweeping views of the Pacific at Palisades Park. Just steps from the beach, Tongva Park also offers numerous playgrounds designed for specific age groups, ensuring a great time for kids of all ages. The park features native, sustainable plants thriving along rolling hills and winding paths. With artistic sculptures, a splash pad and unique play structures, Tongva Park is a beautiful stop for families in Santa Monica. At Santa Monica’s accessible parks, all children can join the playground fun with a sensory garden at North Beach Playground and ADA-accessible play equipment at South Beach Park Playground. Beach wheelchairs are also readily available for families to rent free of charge at Perry’s Café, Heal the Bay Aquarium and Annenberg Community Beach House.

For families visiting with kids 0-8 years of age, the Cayton Children’s Museum at Santa Monica Place includes enriching spaces and activities that showcase the power of play. Featuring discovery-based exhibits, art studios, a theatre and a host of classes and workshops, the museum offers immersive activities that cultivate creativity and experiential learning in young children. Once you’ve experienced the museum, visit Santa Monica Place’s many specialty shops and enjoy a meal at group-friendly restaurant The Curious Palate or deliciously healthy True Food Kitchen for a full day of family fun.

Here in Santa Monica, everyone can ride some Southern California waves with kid-friendly surf lessons and camps. Named the best surf school in SoCal, Aqua Surf School offers private and group lessons taught by an expert team with experience coaching new and seasoned surfers of all ages and abilities. Summer surf camps are another great way to get in the water, with weeklong or one-day options for kids available in Santa Monica with Aqua Surf School and Learn to Surf LA.

Where to Eat
Make mealtime a fun-filled activity with cooking lessons at the acclaimed Gourmandise School! The Gourmandise School offers cooking classes for parents and their children to learn how to create delicious dishes and desserts to be enjoyed at the end of the class. Parent & Child Classes on this year’s summer calendar include baking lessons such as French macarons and 4th of July cupcakes, or even dishes from around the world including omusubi and Chinese dumplings. Older teens interested in growing their culinary skills can also join adult classes to master more advanced techniques and recipes during a visit to The Gourmandise School.

For a sweet treat sure to cool the kids down on a sunny summer day, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream scoops up ice cream and sorbet made fresh daily, and Sweet Rose Creamery offers both classic ice cream shop staples as well as unique seasonal flavors. Rotating new menu items every month, Sweet Rose Creamery is inspired by the many organic, California-grown ingredients found at the nearby farmers markets. Santa Monica is home to four weekly farmers markets offering extensive spreads of fresh produce and foods appealing to both health-conscious visitors and celebrated local chefs.

One local restaurant that sources a range of produce from the farmers market is Huckleberry, a favorite neighborhood stop for delicious pastries and café meals. Founded by born-and-raised Santa Monica residents, Huckleberry is a cozy, casual spot for families to enjoy gourmet plates full of farm-fresh ingredients selected by the restaurant’s team each week at the farmers market.

In Santa Monica, families don’t even need to step off the sand to enjoy a delicious meal. Perry’s Café at the Beach offers a true toes-in-the-sand dining experience with California cuisine options at four open-air locations along Santa Monica’s shores. The summer fun continues with bike and beach gear rentals conveniently located at each café for a full afternoon of family activities. Families can also pack a picnic on the beach with beautiful picnic boxes full of charcuterie and fresh fruits from Lady & Larder, or signature sandwiches from local favorite Bay Cities Italian Deli. Meanwhile, Santa Monica Picnic Co. brings the ultimate beach picnic to you with coastal décor, beach games and picnic snacks including charcuterie and baked goods. Families can even book a photography session add-on as a beautiful keepsake from their summer break in Santa Monica.

For food and fun all in one, the Santa Monica Pier is home to several casual dining options sure to please hungry kids, including All-American burgers and milkshakes at Pier Burger, personal pans at Pacific Wheel Pizza Company and Mexican favorites at MariaSol’s ocean patio. Pier dining favorites also include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a boat-themed seafood spot, and The Albright, a family-run seaside eatery.

Santa Monica is truly a leading culinary destination, with unique restaurant options that are both world-class and kid-friendly. Helmed by award-winning Chef Jeremy Fox, Birdie G’s is a neighborhood favorite focused on Eastern European cuisine, seasonal ingredients and zero-waste practices. Adults can enjoy an extensive wine list and eclectic menu inspired by the chef’s heritage, while the kids can order from a curated menu featuring child-friendly plates. Cassia is a critically acclaimed eatery by Chef Bryant Ng serving up Southeast Asian dishes, fresh seafood and thoughtfully created cocktails. While the menu includes kid-friendly versions of dishes off the adult menu, many plates such as Vegetable Fried Rice and Scallion Clay Oven Bread are sure to please the whole family. Popular bakery Tartine also offers plenty of outdoor picnic tables and lawn space perfect for families to enjoy while tasting a delicious spread of sandwiches and breakfast dishes.

Where to Stay
With over 40 hotels across the city, there are fantastic places to stay for families of all budgets and sizes. Shore Hotel is the perfect beachfront base for families looking to stay just steps from the Santa Monica Pier. Shore Hotel prioritizes eco-friendly design and materials throughout the property, offering energy-saving rooms, spacious baths and even a pool on-site. Beloved by families visiting from all around the world, Shore Hotel was rated the #1 hotel in the United States by Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Hotels list in 2024.

Just a stone’s throw from the sand sits Sea Blue Hotel, a fun property with budget-friendly rooms full of character. Sea Blue Hotel is a great choice for families offering a breakfast bar, private courtyard with direct access to the shore and California coastal décor bringing the beach vibes right into your room. Even better, Sea Blue Hotel welcomes guests to bring along their furry friends, so the whole family can enjoy the adventure together! Comfort Inn Santa Monica-West Los Angeles is another affordable option providing quality for families on a budget with recently renovated spaces, complimentary hot breakfast each morning, free parking, premium internet access and a heated outdoor pool.

Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites offers spacious accommodations for the whole family to stay comfortably. With 211 suites on the property, Hilton Santa Monica’s accommodations feature adjoining room options and modular furniture allowing families to adjust their stay to their unique needs, all with a serene coastal design and fantastic city or ocean views.

For families celebrating something special or looking to splurge in style during a trip to Santa Monica, Hotel Casa del Mar is sure to delight both parents and kids alike. Summer fun starts on-property with an outdoor swimming pool, complimentary beach toys and umbrellas, a family-friendly restaurant, bike rentals and more. Parents can also unwind after a day of exploration with a massage or treatment at Sea Wellness Spa before settling in to enjoy the hotel’s gorgeous accommodations.

Ways to Save in Santa Monica
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism recognizes the cost of planning a family getaway can rise quickly, and it’s important to consider options within budget for a stress-free, fun-filled vacation. Luckily, there are a wealth of affordable, and even completely cost-free, ways to enjoy a visit to Santa Monica. The city welcomes visitors of all budgets and backgrounds to experience attractions, art and outdoor activities together here in Santa Monica.

An icon of the California coast, the Santa Monica Pier is free to enter and is the perfect spot to catch the sunset and explore several budget-friendly food options. The Pier is also home to the “End of the Road” plaque signaling the commemorative end of the historic Route 66. For more admission-free entertainment, just down the shore is the Original Muscle Beach where acrobats and bodybuilders flex their muscles with incredible feats performed for the public.

Known for its beautiful beaches and nearly 300 days of sunshine, Santa Monica’s outdoor spaces are open for all. Families can enjoy a splash pad or pick-up basketball at Virginia Avenue Park, or watch the planes take off from nearby Santa Monica Airport at Clover Park. Santa Monica’s many beach volleyball courts are also available to the public, allowing families to play where pros like Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May-Treanor have trained.

Art is for all in Santa Monica, with spaces like Bergamot Station Arts Center featuring over 20 galleries or 18th Street Arts Center hosting exhibitions that are completely free to enjoy. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism also developed a self-guided walking tour highlighting the city’s over 170 murals with easy-to-navigate maps locating the many pieces of public art brightening Santa Monica spaces. The City of Santa Monica also compiled a map of the City’s public art collection allowing visitors to locate and learn more about each piece.

­­­Santa Monica is easy to navigate both conveniently and affordably with multiple stations along the Metro E Line and transportation throughout the city with Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system. Free rides are also available with Santa Monica’s Circuit, an electric shuttle allowing locals and guests to call an eco-friendly ride within the city. Biking is another affordable transportation option, with several hotels such as Shore Hotel, Santa Monica Proper Hotel and Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows offering hotel guests bicycle rentals at little to no cost.

For more tips on free activities throughout the city, visit:

To learn more and begin planning your family’s ultimate summer break, visit:

Have a question or need help planning your family’s trip to Santa Monica? Our Visitor Services team is happy to help!
Toll Free: +1 (800)-771-2322
Visitor Information Center: +1 (310) 319-6263

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About Santa Monica Travel & Tourism
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For more information visit, email, or follow SMTT on Instagram (@SeeSantaMonica), X (@GoSantaMonica) or Facebook (@VisitSantaMonica).

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Emily Ohara
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