Santa Monica is known for its beautiful beaches and iconic pier, but that’s not all it has to offer. The city also boasts plenty of unique experiences – from the adventurous to the cultural – that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world. Read on for some of the best and most surprising.

Big (Top) Dreams

Ever dreamt of being in the circus? Well, now’s your chance to pretend you’re in the ring at a flying trapeze class on the Santa Monica Pier with Trapeze School New York: Los Angeles. Soar high above the Pacific Ocean and take in the amazing views as you live out a real-life adventure. Classes are held almost every day of the week and cost $60.

Flying trapeze class at Trapeze School New York: Los Angeles


An Urban Oasis

Tucked away off Ocean Avenue is Tongva Park. Once you step inside this magical oasis, you’re immediately transported to a tranquil land that feels miles away from any city. With walking trails, a natural amphitheater, a children’s play area with a splash pad, gardens, and more, Tongva Park is unlike any metropolitan park you’ve ever visited.

Tongva Park entrance sign


Flying High

After you’ve seen all of Santa Monica by foot, it’s time to check out the city from above the clouds. At Skyward Aviation, you can take flight lessons and learn to navigate the sky. If you want a one-time lesson, the school offers an introductory flight for $189.

If you like the idea of flying but prefer to keep your feet on the ground, check out the Museum of Flying. Based at the Santa Monica Airport, the museum is home to the California Aviation Hall of Fame as well as many aircraft artifacts and special displays. By far the coolest activity at the Museum of Flying is the MaxFlight Simulator. For $8, you can play the part of pilot and try your hand at flying a plane in this interactive experience.

Three people exploring the Museum of Flying


Surprising Sights

Santa Monica is known for having some of the most extraordinary architecture in the country. One of its best kept secrets is the Farnam House. Located at the corner of California Avenue and 26th Street on a residential street, this unassuming bungalow is covered in mosaics. Married couple Louise and Aziz Farnam have been covering their home in eclectic and colorful tiles for years. The house is truly a work of art unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Down at the beach, just south of the Santa Monica Pier are two, oversized lifeguard chairs. These aren’t ordinary chairs. They’re called the Singing Beach Chairs and they’re actually public art that was installed in 1987 by artist Doug Hollis. Not only can visitors climb up, sit and listen to the sounds created by the breeze, but they can also play music on the aluminum pipes that are used as the chair backs. There’s no better setting for making beautiful music than on the pristine California beach.

Singing chairs at Santa Monica Beach


Life Aquatic

What’s a beach city like Santa Monica without its own aquarium? Just below the Santa Monica Pier is the Heal the Bay Aquarium. With rotating exhibits, it’s the perfect place to learn about and observe marine life with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. Adults pay $5 to get in while kids under 12 are free, which makes it an affordable day of fun.

Heal the Bay Aquarium outdoor art mural


Seaside Sun Salutations

If you’re looking to have a true “LA experience,” try doing yoga on the beach! Beach Yoga SoCal hosts classes next to Lifeguard Tower 26 every day of the week. From the standard 60-minute beach yoga session to a weekend 75-minute class to sunset yoga, there’s something for everyone here. On Mondays, the 5:30 class is free. Namaste!

Three woman doing yoga on Santa Monica Beach


Join the Club

Want the beach club experience without the sky high membership fees? Then, check out the Annenberg Community Beach House. The beachside public pool (with a splash pad!) costs $10 for adults, $4 for kids 1-17, and $5 for seniors, and tours of the Marion Davies Guest House are free. Other activities at Annenberg include volleyball courts, beach tennis, beach soccer, and stand-up paddleboards. If you get hungry, make sure to stop by the Back on the Beach Cafe for a delicious oceanfront meal where the food is as good as the views!

Annenberg Community Beach House pool area


Mentioned in this Blog Post

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Annenberg Community Beach House
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Beach Yoga SoCal
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Museum of Flying
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Heal the Bay Aquarium
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Tongva Park
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Trapeze School New York