Santa Monica is a beachfront city in California, bordered by Los Angeles and Santa Monica Bay. Originally inhabited by the Tongva people, today the many attractions have made it a popular tourist city. With a coastal Mediterranean climate, the city has great weather and sunshine almost all year round. If you are planning a visit, read on to learn about the best things to do in this city!

Related: Find Rooms For Rent in Santa Monica

Best things to do in Santa Monica: Outdoor activities

1. Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, Via Pacific Park

One of the most iconic sites in California, a visit to the pier has to be on your list of things to do in the city. Also a popular photo spot, the Pier is lined with shops, musicians, and of course, the famous Ferris wheel at the end.

Costs and Timings: Accessible to the public. Store timings and costs vary.

2. Palisades Park

Palisades Park, Via Time Out

This palm and eucalyptus tree-lined path offers stunning views of the ocean and the city. Mountains. Stretching across the coastline, Palisades Park is a big tourist attraction for anyone visiting the city.

Costs and Timings: Accessible to the public.

3. Santa Monica Mountains

Santa Monica Mountains, Via Visit California

Located not far from the city, a hike in the mountains is one of the most popular activities for outdoorsy folk. Also, from the things to do in the city, there is nothing like the stunning views and peace that feels far removed from the bustle and noise.

Costs and Timings: Accessible to the public.

4. Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach, Via Santa Monica Mirror

One of the biggest attractions has to be the Beach. Stretching three and a half miles, the beach is a hub for both locals and tourists looking to have fun. Additionally, with areas for picnics, sports, bike rentals, water sports, and much more, it is one of the best places to visit in the city when you want to chill out.

Costs and Timings: Accessible to the public.

5. Santa Monica Farmers Market

Santa Monica Farmers Market, Via LA Times

Offering the freshest variety of local produce, the Farmers Market takes place at multiple locations throughout the week. Hence, a visit to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market along Arizona Avenue needs to be on your bucket list.

Costs and Timings: Vary according to market and stores.

Best things to do: visit the Museums

6. Aero Theatre

This Art Deco-styled tourist attraction has been around since the 40s and is owned by American Cinematheque. Screening classic films and contemporary independent movies, it is one of the best places to go in the city for film buffs.

Costs and Timings: Check the website for shows and timings.

7. Museum of Flying

One of the biggest attractions for aviation enthusiasts, this museum is dedicated to documenting the history of flight. Additionally, The Museum of Flying features exhibits from aviation companies like Boeing, Hughes Aircraft, Lockheed, North American, and Northrop.


  • Adults: $10
  • Seniors / Students: $8
  • Children ages 3-12: $6
  • Children 2 or younger are free

Timings: Wed-Sun: 10 AM-5 PM

8. Heal the Bay Aquarium

Heal the Bay Aquarium, Via Visit California

This Aquarium is should be on your list of things to do in the city when you’re visiting the Pier and Beach. Located conveniently under the Pier, it is dedicated to understanding and conserving the Southern California coastal waters.

Costs: Open to Public

Timings: 12:30-5:00pm

9. California Heritage Museum

California History Museum, Via Website

Located in a restored 1894 house, this museum was originally home to the son of the founder of the city. Also a big tourist attraction for history buffs, it captures the history of the state with rotating exhibitions.


  • Adults: $8
  • Seniors: $5
  • Students: $5
  • Children under 12: Free


Wednesday to Sunday: 11 AM-4 PM

10. Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura, Via Culture Trip

An offbeat tourist attraction, this place offers a unique optical experience using rudimentary camera-like technology. Also, you can view a live projection of the beachfront in this unique contraption, away from the crowds.

Costs: Open to the Public


  • Mon-Fri: 9 AM to 3 PM
  • Sat: 11 AM to 4 PM

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Best things to do: visit the Restaurants

11. BOA Steakhouse

If you love steak and seafood, a meal here should be on your list of things to do in the city. Serving world-class meats plus options for vegans and alternative diets, this place is sure to delight anyone.

12. Del Frisco’s Grille

Overlooking the pier, this restaurant is one of the best places to go in the city for great local food. And the locally sourced ingredients and great decor make for a great vibe that you need to experience yourself.

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