Most people know Santa Monica for its famous pier – rustic wooden boardwalks, twisting roller coasters, and fairy floss vendors serving up a scene that’s quintessential California. Any visit to Santa Monica should include an evening at the pier, but this area of Los Angeles offers more than just amusement parks and carnival games. What you really need is a local guide to lead the way.
Sample regional fare with a global influence on a foodie-led walking tour, get close to colourful street art by bicycle or watch surfers carve waves at the beach. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, here are eight unique ways to make the most of your time in Santa Monica.
One Sweet Ride
Burn calories while you enjoy decadent desserts on a bike tour of the best eateries around Santa Monica. While taking in the sights, enjoy award-winning chocolate truffles, handmade doughnuts, Mexican pastries, and LA’s best ice cream, all made with local and organic ingredients. You’ll even have the chance to bite into sweet-tooth-satisfying treats worthy of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” while you cruise through chic avenues and bustling promenades.
Get a Taste of Santa Monica
Can’t decide where to go for lunch? Follow a local foodie to discover quaint cafes and trendy eateries on a walking food tour of Santa Monica. Learn about the strong international influences that shaped SoCal cuisine while munching on a menu that might include savoury street tacos, Japanese rice balls, or Jamaican jerk chicken. If time allows, explore the famous farmers market’s produce-packed stalls and locally made goods.
A Day at the Beach(es)
Slather on sunscreen and get ready to soak up the sun on all the premier beaches of Los Angeles. Dip your toes in the turquoise waters of Huntington Beach while surfers look for the perfect set and volleyball players work on their spikes. Visit Long Beach and board the historic Queen Mary luxury ocean liner to hear about her 1930s glory days, hardworking war years, and spooky ghost stories. Head to Venice Beach to uncover its bohemian spirit and end your day at the Santa Monica Pier to see where the famous lifeguards of Baywatch made their heroic rescues.
Segway in LA
Try out high-tech two-wheeled technology as you zoom along the waterfront of Santa Monica and Venice Beach on a Segway. After a quick orientation session, your guide will take you to the must-see photo-ops in the area. On a tour that’s great for teens and adults alike, you can flex your muscles with the bodybuilders of Muscle Beach, snap photos of the pier’s Ferris wheel, marvel at talented street performers along the boardwalk, and catch skateboarders practicing tricks at Venice Skate Park.
Soar Above the City
Skip the infamous 405 traffic and see the city from a new perspective by booking a private flight over Santa Monica and the Malibu Coast. During a 45-minute plane ride, you can catch all the biggest sights of this iconic city, including the ritzy mansions of Beverly Hills, the student-studded campus of UCLA, and the giant white letters of the legendary Hollywood sign. Don’t forget your camera!
Cycles, Beaches, and Street Art
Sometimes called the “Mural Capital of the World,” the city of Los Angeles displays some of the most colourful city walls. A culture of street art emerged during the 1960s and 1970s thanks to a lack of regulation and today it remains vibrant, especially in Venice Beach. After enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean along the Santa Monica Beach, you’ll pedal around these open-air street galleries in Venice.
Shop Until You Drop
Unlock over $750 worth of savings while shopping and dining in the beach-chic area of Santa Monica Place. Expand your wardrobe with dozens of fashion retailers to choose from, including Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Nike, Hugo Boss, Coach, and True Religion. After you work up an appetite, ascend to the Dining Deck to enjoy fresh, local flavours from one of many chef-driven restaurants while you take in gorgeous ocean views. The best part? Complimentary package check means a concierge holds your bags, leaving your hands free while you shop for more great deals.
Dining Movie-Star Style
Grab a glass of champagne and set sail on a starlight dinner cruise aboard a luxury yacht. Leaving from Santa Monica’s neighbouring harbour, Marina del Rey, you’ll dine on a four-course meal crafted from local and seasonal ingredients while you take in the glittering coastline. The party continues up on the top deck as a DJ spins tunes for you to dance the night away with your mates.