Santa Monica is one of Southern California’s most iconic spots. I love walking on the town’s coastal path, getting up close and personal with celebrities on the Santa Monica Stairs, shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade, and exploring the hip areas of Abbot Kinney and Montana. You never know who you’re going to run into here, and there is always something going on.
If this is our first trip here, you’ll want to check out a few neighborhoods, see the beachside attractions, and enjoy local shopping and dining—leaving plenty of time for people-watching everywhere you go. Here’s what to do with three days.
Santa Monica’s warm, generally sunny weather is one of its charms; bring a few layers in case of fog.
If you’re making a short visit, head straight to the iconic Santa Monica Pier to smell the sea air, grab an ice cream, play some games, and feel the nostalgia.
Start your visit with a trip to one of Santa Monica’s most trendy areas, Abbot Kinney, where you will automatically feel the hip vibe. Shop, go to galleries, and stroll down the street, stopping at one or more of the restaurants and cafes to fuel up.
Since you’re in Los Angeles, take some time to see Hollywood hot spots. To see all of the landmarks you’ve heard about and see on films and TV without fighting the famous traffic, take a bus tour.
In the evening, join a local pub crawl to see what the LA nightlife scene is all about.
Today, start your day on the beach; take a morning stroll along Ocean Avenue and relax on beautiful Santa Monica State Beach. Around lunch, head to the Santa Monica Pier for some fish and chips (or something vegan and green) and enjoy the iconic amusement parks’ games and rides. You can also head to 3rd Street Promenade for some shopping and star spotting. For a fun way to explore the town, spend the afternoon on a scavenger hunt.
In the evening, enjoy a mix of California beach vibes and dancing with a class that pairs cocktails with salsa and bachata classes.
On your last day, get up early and head to the Santa Monica Steps to challenge yourself like the LA locals do with a steep hike—and burn off a bit of the fun from the previous two days. Afterward, make your way to Montana Avenue and treat yourself to a leisurely brunch.
In the afternoon, get onto a bike and explore more of the city, either with a group or at your own pace, taking in any last sights (or revisiting favorites) before you say goodbye to this California paradise.