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Exploring the Vibrant Lifestyle of Santa Monica: Top Things to Do

Exploring the Vibrant Lifestyle of Santa Monica: Top Things to Do

  • Claire O'Connor

A straight shot on Highway 10 from Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a bustling city tucked neatly between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean with so much to see and do that you cannot possibly get it all done in a few days. You can certainly try, though, and once you do, you might just decide you never want to leave.

Santa Monica is one of the many highlights of Southern California life, with plenty of green space, pretty beaches, a permanent carnival on the waterfront, and food and drinks to die for. If you’re traveling to this charming city, either as a SoCal local or as a traveler from afar, get ready to plan your itinerary of things to do in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
You cannot visit Santa Monica and miss the Santa Monica Pier. The iconic Ferris wheel stands out for all to see, perched on the pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Located at the western edge of Highway 10, at the junction of Ocean Ave and Colorado Ave, this permanent fair is buzzing with activity at virtually all hours of day and night. Come for the rides, walk on the beach, and stay for a fancy dinner overlooking the sea.

3rd Street Promenade

1351 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401

For more city street excitement, head into Downtown Santa Monica from the Pier for street performances, shopping, dining, and cocktails. 3rd Street Promenade is three blocks of open-air streets that are closed to traffic and home to dozens of retailers of all kinds. It’s a must-have experience when you visit Santa Monica.

Farmer’s Market

Arizona Ave and 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Rub elbows with local celebrities and star chefs at this downtown farmer’s market that has become popular with locals. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, you can peruse stalls rich with seasonal fruits and vegetables, small food vendors, and local crafts and artisanal creations. You’ll also be treated to live music if you go Saturday.

Bergamot Station

2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Feeling artsy? Bergamot Station Arts Center is home to 19 art galleries to weave in and out between local exhibits and writer’s boot camp offerings. It is the largest cultural center on the west coast, featuring a diverse mix of artists and styles that is well worth the visit.

California Heritage Museum

2612 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Situated in and around a classic Victorian-style home, the California Heritage Museum offers visitors a vast array of interesting artifacts dedicated to the history of California and the Santa Monica community.

Santa Monica Place

395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Shopping in style is what Santa Monica Place is designed for. Just a short walk from 3rd Street Promenade, this outdoor shopping venue is three levels high and offers luxury boutiques and fashion stores to visitors.

Santa Monica State Beach

Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

So much more than just a beach, Santa Monica State Beach sits adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier and is surrounded by shops and eateries to enjoy when you’re sun weary and done with the salty ocean water.

Muscle Beach

Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, CA 90401

The Original Muscle Beach has been around for more than 100 years now, and you can still find bodybuilders and gymnasts showing off their skills on the bars or gym equipment pretty much every day. They’ll even make space for you to join them in a workout on the beach if you’re feeling up to it.

Santa Monica Stairs

699 Adelaide Dr, Santa Monica, CA 90402

It doesn’t sound that exciting, but it is an experience you must have in this quirky city. The Santa Monica Stairs are 170 outdoor steps that ascend through Santa Monica Canyon. The 4th-street stairway offers the opportunity for different scenery as you descend 189 steps. Of course, you can take the opposite route. If those steps seem too crowded, you can venture around the corner for the secret Mesa stairway, which is less busy and has even more steps at 201.

BOA Steakhouse

101 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

A spectacular steakhouse unlike any other, BOA Steakhouse has a restaurant right on the Santa Monica Pier that offers amazing steak as well as Japanese bites and delightful cocktails.


2020 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

It’s one of those experiences that is so memorable that you have to have it at least once. Opaque offers its patrons the opportunity to dine in the dark so your senses are fully immersed in the sensual parts of eating and drinking.


1147 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Bringing art and quality cuisine together, Michael’s is a Santa Monica classic. Fine dining meets fine art in luxe surroundings with excellent service. What more could you possibly hope for here? Come for the food, and stay for the art and ambiance.

Forma Restaurant & Cheese Bar

1610 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

One of those oh-so-photographable hot spots, Forma serves up delicious Italian cuisine, interesting cocktails, and a cheese bar that will have you unable to put your camera, or your fork, down. Bring your appetite.

Santa Monica is a dream destination

Whether you’re planning a visit or scouting for your next dream home, Santa Monica is one of those locations that really does have it all. From beaches and museums to fine dining and upscale shopping, this city is one that will keep you feeling alive and thrilled to find the next adventure around the corner.

The Santa Monica lifestyle is indeed an enviable one. In a perfect world, you will plan a weeklong trip to truly appreciate all the fun that makes up Santa Monica, and if you’re hoping to stay, contact Claire O’Connor today. Claire will get you started on finding the perfect spot to settle in.

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