Seven-Day Itinerary in Santa Monica
Santa Monica offers plenty to see and do for beach lovers, foodies, wellness aficionados and everyone in between. 3.5 miles of Pacific coastline, 8 neighborhoods, world-class shopping, dining, arts, culture– and the iconic Santa Monica Pier– are all within walking distance!
Santa Monica is the perfect home base for a day trip to Los Angeles’ top attractions. Visiting for the week? Here’s our seven-day itinerary with lots of Santa Monica experiences to help you live like a local.
Day One: Morning
A self-guided bike tour will help you get the lay of the land on your first morning in beautiful Santa Monica! With more than 100 miles of bike lanes in our compact city, you don’t need a car to explore. Many hotels and other lodging options offer complimentary bikes for guests. You can also rent a bike for the day or for the remainder of your visit at Santa Monica Bike Center.
Once you have your wheels, pedal along Ocean Avenue to get fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. Stop into Cora’s Coffee Shoppe for a freshly brewed cup of coffee and California-inspired Mexican cuisine, made with organic farmers market ingredients, to fuel up for the day. Then continue on to the ocean while taking in the salty air along the Marvin Braude Beach Bike Path.
Known to locals as the Strand, this path stretches for 22 miles through Los Angeles County. To travel the full length of Santa Monica, pedal your way between the Annenberg Community Beach House, California’s only public beach club, to the North and the Venice Beach Boardwalk to the South.
Santa Monica Pier Destinations
In the heart of Santa Monica, head to the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. The most Instagrammed destination in all of LA, the Pier is over 110 years old and full of history, including a carousel with wooden horses as seen in The Sting.
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Day One: Afternoon
While you’re at the Pier, grab lunch at The Albright. It’s a family-owned restaurant famous for diverse seafood and Popeye artwork inspired by a Norwegian fisherman who once frequented the pier.
At Pacific Park, the Pacific Wheel is an absolute must. This solar-powered ferris wheel takes you high above the ocean for some of the best views of the city.
In Santa Monica, sunsets are a beautiful end to the day. Head to rooftop bar ONYX at The Beacon to grab a cocktail, enjoy the colors and take in the fresh air at this popular nightlife venue.
After drinks, it’s time for dinner. With four weekly farmers markets, fresh ingredients abound in Santa Monica’s restaurant cuisine. Take a short walk to Wally’s Wine and Spirits for delightful pairings of locally-sourced produce and meats with the world’s finest wines.
Day Two: Morning
Sink into Santa Monica’s relaxing vibes with a little namaste by the sea. Beach Yoga SoCal is a popular yoga studio that offers private and group classes outdoors in the sand. Be sure to stop by Juice Crafters for a freshly squeezed juice before (and after, for a refreshing treat) and bring your own towel to enjoy a light breakfast on your own after your class wraps up.
Day Two: Afternoon
Head to True Food Kitchen for a healthy and organic lunch that pairs perfectly with morning yoga. After, visit nearby Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place for an afternoon shopping trip. More than 200 shops and restaurants are nestled here in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica. The area is pedestrian-friendly with a distinctly Southern California vibe: plenty of ocean breezes, musicians and entertainers.
For dinner, try Ye Olde King’s Head for British favorites like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie. If you’re looking for a traditional cup of tea, this British eatery will take you from Santa Monica to the West End of London. (Be sure to check out the onsite gift shop.) Afternoon tea is provided on the terrace on Wednesdays through Saturdays and includes tea, finger sandwiches, scones and a choice of pastries. You can even add a glass of Champagne!
Day Three: Morning
Known as “Hollywood by the Beach,” Santa Monica has a storied history full of glitz and glamor. History buffs can discover Santa Monica’s architectural gems and culture through walking tours curated by the Santa Monica Conservancy. Learn about the start of the modern movie industry, visit a lavish Art Deco hotel and explore the various styles that fill the streets of Santa Monica.
Continue your tour of the city on your own with a self-guided tour of Santa Monica’s street art murals. Santa Monica is an arts and culture hub home to over 130 street art murals all within its 8.3 square miles and eight neighborhoods. The murals are brought to life by a combination of different entities from the City of Santa Monica, local business improvement districts, private groups and people as well as Beautify Earth. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism has launched a comprehensive digital guide of street art murals in the city.
Afternoon on Main Street
Now that you’ve had your workout for the day it’s time to head to relaxing Main Street, home to a blend of cafes and shops popular with locals. Stop in and say hello to our friendly visitor services specialists at the Main Street Visitor Information Center–we’re happy to answer any questions you may have!
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Treat yourself to a much-deserved break at Now Spa. Here, you can enjoy a soothing massage treatment and guided meditation to melt your stress away.
When you’re totally relaxed, stop in at Ashland Hill for a delicious lunch. Insider’s tip: the tree-swept patio can’t be beat for its cozy atmosphere.
After lunch, continue down Main Street to explore the eclectic variety of shops offering everything from designer boutiques and electric bikes to crystals and natural healers.
Art lovers flock to Bergamot Station, an open-air collection of galleries inside a former train depot in Santa Monica’s Mid-City neighborhood just steps from one of the city’s three Metro stops.
End your evening with dinner at Birdie G’s, the latest concept from the local Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants just around the corner from the galleries. With a diverse menu designed by acclaimed Chef Jeremy Fox, dishes pay homage to Midwestern comfort food with a Southern California twist.
Day Four: Morning
Begin your day exploring one of Santa Monica’s quirkiest neighborhoods: Pico Boulevard. The lively strip connects Santa Monica to Downtown Santa Monica and offers below-the-radar shopping finds and unique art galleries. Make sure you are following Santa Monica’s Street Art Mural Guide here because the eclectic street contains a multitude of popular murals from Beautify Earth.
For breakfast, stop in at Lunetta All Day, a restaurant from local chef and former professional surfer Raphael Lunetta. For a classic Santa Monica morning, enjoy ricotta lemon pancakes on the brick patio dripping with ivy.
SoCal Road Trip Destinations
Santa Monica’s central location in Los Angeles County makes it easy to explore the wider region. This afternoon, head up the Pacific Coast Highway for a mini SoCal road trip.
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Day Four: Afternoon
First stop is The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. Situated on a cliff overseeing the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.
Continue your journey north to scenic Malibu, stretching 21 miles along the Pacific Ocean. Take in the beauty from your car or stop at one of the many iconic beaches for fresh air and sunbathing.
Back in Santa Monica, treat yourself to a fine dining experience from a popular chef who happens to be a Santa Monica native: Josiah Citrin.
Citrin features a dining room and bar-cum-bistro, while Mélisse is tucked in the back with an intimate 14-table restaurant setting where the chefs personally serve guests.
Mélisse was awarded a second Michelin star in 2021. Citrin serves “progressive California cuisine” along with some of Mélisse’s famous dishes that helped earn its Michelin Stars.
Day Five: Morning
Begin your day with a walk through Ocean Park, a unique neighborhood where aviation history abounds thanks to the Santa Monica Airport and Museum of Flying. For some of the best coffee in the city head into Café Bolivar, a true hidden gem.
Visiting on a Sunday? Find some of the best treasures at the Santa Monica Airport Antique Market. Noted as one of America’s Top Ten Flea Markets, this market is a must for collectors, decorators, designers and anyone who loves a day of antique shopping. The market operates on the first and fourth Sunday of every month from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Guided Santa Monica Tours
Continue your exploration of Greater Los Angeles with Starline Tours’ City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off experience. It’s a tour, a suntan and a ticket to ride. Covering three distinct routes and two major connectors totaling 100 miles, THIS is the way to see Los Angeles.
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Day Five: Afternoon
StarLine Tours offers many convenient stops in Santa Monica. Explore local highlights from an open-air, double decker bus! Visit the Hollywood sign, tour celebrity homes in Beverly Hills or cruise through lively West Hollywood.
A fully narrated tour in English plus eight other languages tells the story of Southern California. Board the bus at any stop with hop-on, hop-off privileges and use the NextBus app to know exactly when your bus is arriving.
Back in Santa Monica, dinner is served at Socalo. The creative eatery from two of LA’s most beloved chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Socalo is located in the Gateway Hotel in Mid-City. The California Canteen and Mexican pub is a zero foodprint restaurant and serves up fresh eats and delightful cocktails for anyone looking for Mexican food fine dining.
Day Six: Morning
Bodega Wine Bar is a buzz-worthy choice for breakfast. Coffee shop by day, wine bar by night, Bodega is a comfortable neighborhood spot to relax and enjoy time with friends in a breezy, open-setting just steps from many of Santa Monica’s mid-city fitness studios.
Day Six: Afternoon
One of Southern California’s best-kept secrets? Malibu is a robust wine region with more than 50 wineries. Enjoy a premium tasting experience on the Malibu Wine Trail Tour with Malibu Discovery.
Passengers embark on a stunning journey along the Pacific coast and into the canyons of Malibu Wine Country (now with its own AVA). Climb into the Santa Monica mountains, visit three wine tasting rooms and enjoy a delicious lunch with wine.
Day Seven: Morning
With four weekly farmers markets, a week-long visit to Santa Monica guarantees you can catch our local produce-lovers in action at least once.
The Wednesday Downtown Santa Monica Farmers Market is the largest organic market on the West Coast. It’s also the most renowned as the best chefs from across Los Angeles are often spotted side-by-side with health-conscious locals who know where to go to get the freshest ingredients to cook at home. This market lasts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and runs along Arizona Avenue.
The theme of the day is “do as the locals do,” so a stroll along Montana Avenue is an absolute must.
There’s no better place for a leisurely, off-the-beaten-path walk than this tree-lined boulevard that’s home to a stretch of more than 150 restaurants and retailers.
From unique home boutiques to high-end cosmetic stores, the area that stretches from 7th to 17th Street is a hotspot for the latest beauty trends, fashion and healthy eateries.
Begin your stroll with a cup of java from Primo Passo Coffee Co., a family owned boutique coffee shop that serves exceptional coffee roasted in small batches to maximize flavor in every cup. In addition to coffee, they offer grab-and-go eats and a variety of fresh baked sweets.
Art’s Table has everything from po’boys and burgers to lobster mac and more. Keep it traditional with a grass-fed beef burger, or try something different: their homemade turkey burger topped with garlic aioli and goat cheese. Bring the pup along and enjoy dining outside.
Treat yourself with a facial at Face Haus. Inspired by the sunny rays of southern California and the subsequent daily need for healthy skin care, Face Haus is a wellness studio that aims to give easy access for facials. The brain-child of a trio of fabulous women, the service menu delivers spa-grade facials without all the fuss.
Day Seven: Evening
For your last evening in Santa Monica, catch the sunset in style. We recommend Elephante Beach House, an exclusive rooftop beach house with ocean views, featuring a light menu, an elevated cocktail & wine program and Instagram-worthy sunsets.
Elephante aims to capture the Southern Mediterranean in the heart of Santa Monica. The menu offers coastal Italian favorites and three on-site bars offer a variety of fun cocktails and natural wines. Be sure to make a reservation, because this is a popular spot!
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