santa monica one day itinerary

One Day Itinerary for Santa Monica

Stretching along a 3.5 mile scenic stretch of Pacific coastline, with an average of 280 days of sunshine a year, it’s always a great time to visit Santa Monica.

If you’re only visiting for 24 hours, use this one day itinerary! We’ve collected must-do Santa Monica experiences to help you get a glimpse of the extraordinary number of things to see and do across the city’s walkable 8.3 square miles. We hope you come back again for a longer, overnight stay to explore even more!

Morning Bike Ride

Kick-start your day with the perfect blend of sightseeing, exercise and orientation on the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail. Rent bikes at Santa Monica Bike Center and explore this beautiful oceanside path: it connects Santa Monica with Torrance County Beach and passes through Venice, Hermosa and Redondo Beach. Picturesque photo spots!

Return your bike, then head right across the street to the landmark Santa Monica Pier — one of California’s oldest pleasure piers. Set at the westernmost point of the city, it offers stunning ocean views, over a century’s worth of history and is packed full of family-friendly attractions, shops and restaurants.

beach biking trails
beach biking trail

Explore the Santa Monica Pier

At the Santa Monica Pier, you can ride the wooden horses at the carousel, take a spin on Pacific Park’s solar-powered Ferris wheel, get up close to marine life at the Heal the Bay Aquarium and snap a selfie in front of the pier’s most recognizable backdrop: a Route 66 sign that marks the western terminus.

one day itinerary
santa monica pier itinerary
santa monica day trip

Seaside Lunch

Worked up an appetite? Grab lunch at Seaside on The Pier. Comprising two separate eateries–a gourmet Sandwich Company and a Grille & Rooftop Bar–this is a top spot for quick eats to-go or a more leisurely sit-down meal.

Create your own handcrafted sandwiches and enjoy them on Santa Monica’s iconic, three-mile golden beach, or opt for seafood and salads with a side of sweeping coastal views on the Grille rooftop.

santa monica dining itinerary
seaside dining

Main Street

Just two blocks east of the ocean, Main Street offers chic boutiques, upscale art galleries, patio-lined cafés and a classy weekly Sunday farmers market.

Visitor Center

Stop by the walk-in Santa Monica Visitor Information Center, where the helpful staff is always happy to point you in the right direction.

Heritage Museum

Be sure to pause at the California Heritage Museum, housed in one of the first Victorian houses, for a fascinating tour of local history.

Shop the Third Street Promenade

A short walk away, the world-famous Third Street Promenade is another Santa Monica must-visit. Lined with big-name brands and shopping aplenty, it’s an amazing outdoor experience. Shop ’til you drop or simply browse the unique window displays as you’re serenaded by street entertainers.

See All Promenade Shops

Evening Adventures

As the sun sets, head back to the beach for drinks with a view at The Coco Club at Sonder The Beacon. This indoor/outdoor rooftop bar and lounge is unique to Santa Monica: a retro mix of Studio 54 and Rat Pack-era Vegas. Cozy up in one of its 1950s waltzer fairground-style booths, sip on sophisticated cocktails and enjoy the best sunset on the West Coast.

Finally, finish the day at the Victorian Santa Monica, a unique outdoor venue combining Southern hospitality and West Coast style.

historic victorian house
People enjoying a drink at the bar and watching sunset at Onyx in Santa Monica

Discover Santa Monica

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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