It’s hard to compete with a seaside location for this Aussie, and Santa Monica has so much to love. Sitting by the beach, it feels pretty much like the antithesis of Hollywood. An artistic, eclectic, and walkable city with a huge outdoor focus, plus some of the best restaurants and bars in LA.
A neighbourhood worthy of more than just an afternoon drop-in, Santa Monica will keep you entertained long after you’ve captured that token Hollywood Sign selfie.
Here are some of my favourite activities, eats, and sights around town.
The quintessential experience in Santa Monica: hire bikes and ride along the boulevard. A plethora of rental shops and designated bike paths makes it an easy way to spend a morning. Head north toward the Pacific Palisades, or south to Venice (keep a careful eye on your bikes if you choose a rest stop at the latter!)
Wander to the end of the iconic Santa Monica Pier for photos and people watching. Cool off afterwards with a swim at the beach (head further away from the Pier to escape the crowds).
Stroll along Third Street Promenade, the city’s shopping hub, and stop for beers at the famously kitsch Barney’s Beanery, where number plates hang from the ceiling and the bar stools are old car seats.
EAT & DRINK
Santa Monica has a thriving food scene. Explore with an empty stomach. It won’t stay that way!
My first stop is always a true LA experience – Korean BBQ taco truck! Food trucks line the street along Ocean Ave/Santa Monica Boulevard so you’ll be spoiled for choice.
M Street Kitchen is an awesome breakfast destination, especially if you like to start your day with huevos rancheros, Mexican hash browns, and mimosas (there’s also an onsite bakery offering amazing muffins and more).
Nearby, Dogtown Coffee serves up delicious espresso, acai bowls, and granola – the perfect start before hitting the beach.
If in town on a weekend (or Wednesday), a breakfast burrito from the Farmer’s Market is a must.
Lovers of all things raw and healthy can head to True Food Kitchen for green juice and fresh, wholesome salads.
One of the best happy hours in town is at Bar Chloe. The tommy’s margaritas and guacamole dip are even better than the very cool décor.
Mercado serves up fresh, inventive and extremely tasty Mexican food. You won’t find any tex-mex burritos here. Instead choriqueso, tostaditas de ceviche, tamales are all made from scratch on premises and sourced from local farmer’s markets are on serve.
If your palate is craving Asian instead, Robata Bar is a Japanese style pub right on the main strip offering some of the best skewers, sushi, and sashimi in town.
Sweet-toothed satisfaction can be found at Sweet Rose Creamery. Their ice-cream is made from scratch on premises each day, with the menu changing based on what ingredients are available from the farmer’s market.
And of course, fro-yo, because it’s everywhere and it’s delicious.
If in town from June-August, the Summer Twilight Concerts at Santa Monica Pier attract huge crowds. What could be better than an evening of great music underneath the iconic carnival lights?
Lastly, and to me, most importantly – watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. Is it possible to ever tire of a beautiful sunset? No, it isn’t.