While other parts of the world may experience brutal winters and hot humid summers, the Santa Monica community is fortunate to enjoy bright blue skies, stunning sunsets and cool ocean breezes year-round. This near-perfect weather allows an active and relaxing lifestyle throughout the entire year. Check out the best non-touristy things to do in Santa Monica that are locals-approved. Here are a few suggestions on how to live like the lucky locals of Santa Monica.
1. Santa Monica Farmers Markets
Santa Monica’s Farmers Markets have had a tremendous impact on the Los Angeles dining scene over the past 34 years and were named some of the best markets in the United States by Travel + Leisure. There are four weekly farmers markets in Santa Monica where you can rub shoulders with yoga students, businessmen, celebrities, famous chefs, families and pick up some of the country’s most unique and beautiful produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, nuts, fish and more.
Many local restaurants in Santa Monica shape their menu around what is in season and readily available from the farmers' markets, so you’ll have a chance to try amazing foods when you eat at local kitchens!
2. Happy Hours With An Ocean Breeze
Dozens of restaurants offer happy hours in Santa Monica, giving you the perfect opportunity to sample Santa Monica’s award-winning dining at a fraction of the cost, watch a beautiful sunset and meet our friendly Santa Monica residents. Ask a local where to grab a drink and they’ll surely recommend some of Santa Monica’s hidden gems that combine great weather and a killer happy hour.
3. Get Around Via Bike
At just 8.3 square miles, Santa Monica is a bicyclist’s paradise. Now that Santa Monica is home to Santa Monica Bike Center, a large full-service bike center, visitors can live like a local by embracing the eco-friendly lifestyle of this active and progressive community. With bike-friendly streets that have well-marked bike lanes and routes, biking has become one of the most scenic and economical ways to navigate the city.
4. Buy Local Santa Monica Products
Santa Monica is home to eight different neighborhoods for shopping, all with their own vibe and flavor. Many locals own small clothing stores, art galleries, restaurants and more. Support these locals by stopping into their businesses, hearing their stories, and buying locally. Discover our faves by checking out our shopping local guide.
5. Soak Up Local Art & Culture
An urban outpost for cutting-edge arts and culture, Santa Monica is home to more than museums, art galleries, live theaters and public art displays. Drop by Bergamot Station, Southern California’s largest art complex and cultural center and check out works by local artists, designers and photographers.
If performing arts is more your style, check out the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at Santa Monica College or one of the many local performing arts venues. You can also stroll and see free art when you check out Santa Monica’s murals - over 130 street artworks in just 8.3 square miles!
6. Protect Our Beach and Bay
The Santa Monica community cares deeply about preserving the beach and its surrounding bay. Santa Monica locals work hard to keep it clean and safe and regularly work in conjunction with the Heal the Bay organization to do so.
Help protect the beach you came to visit by learning more about Heal the Bay. Check out the hub of its conservation efforts in Southern California, the Heal The Bay Aquarium. And don’t forget to keep the natural beauty of Santa Monica alive and well by cleaning up after yourself, your family and your pets while visiting the area!
7. Work Up a Sweat
Santa Monica locals are known for their emphasis on a fit and active lifestyle, and wellness is at the top of a local’s to-do list. While in town, make sure to take advantage of the abundance of outdoor spaces, winding bike paths, parks, and running trails that Santa Monicans use regularly as their very own outdoor gym.
8. Catch Some Waves
With the Pacific Ocean in their front yard, many Santa Monica locals hit the waves daily. With great weather year-round, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding are great ways to stay active and enjoy the beach at the same time. Whether you’re already a pro or looking for your first surf lesson, Santa Monica offers a great time for all levels.