Exploring Santa Monica, CA: A Guide to the Best Activities

Exploring Santa Monica, CA: A Guide to the Best Activities

Discovering the Pier and Beach

Santa Monica’s iconic pier and beautiful beachfront are must-visit destinations for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, enjoy some thrilling rides, or simply take a leisurely stroll, the Santa Monica Pier offers something for everyone.

What to Do:

  • Ride the Ferris Wheel: Take a ride on the iconic Pacific Wheel for breathtaking views of the coastline and beyond.
  • Explore Pacific Park: Enjoy classic amusement park rides, games, and delicious snacks at Pacific Park located right on the pier.
  • Relax on the Beach: Spend some time soaking up the sun or take a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean on the sandy shores of Santa Monica Beach.
  • Visit the Aquarium: Discover marine life native to the California coast at the Heal the Bay Aquarium located at the pier.

Shopping and Dining at Third Street Promenade

For those who love shopping, dining, and entertainment, Third Street Promenade is the place to be in Santa Monica. This pedestrian-friendly outdoor shopping area is bustling with activity and offers a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and street performers.

What to Do:

  • Shop ‘Til You Drop: Explore a diverse range of shops, from well-known brands to unique boutiques, offering everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and souvenirs.
  • Dine Al Fresco: Enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating, offering a perfect spot for people-watching while indulging in delicious cuisine from around the world.
  • Catch a Movie: Visit the AMC Santa Monica 7 for the latest blockbuster films or indie flicks in a modern theater setting.
  • Enjoy Street Performances: Be entertained by talented street performers showcasing their skills along the promenade.

Cultural Exploration at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Delve into the rich marine life of the Pacific Ocean at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Operated by Heal the Bay, this educational facility offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn about marine conservation while observing fascinating sea creatures up close.

What to Do:

  • Attend a Workshop: Participate in interactive workshops and educational programs led by marine experts, covering topics such as tidepool exploration, marine biology, and ocean conservation.
  • View Marine Life: Observe a diverse array of marine species, including sharks, octopuses, and colorful reef fish, in carefully curated exhibits that recreate natural habitats.
  • Get Hands-On: Experience touch tanks where you can feel the textures of sea stars, sea urchins, and other marine creatures while learning about their unique adaptations.
  • Support Conservation Efforts: Learn about the important work being done by Heal the Bay to protect marine ecosystems and how you can get involved in conservation efforts.

Outdoor Recreation at Palisades Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Palisades Park. Located atop the coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this scenic park offers breathtaking views, lush gardens, and plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy.

What to Do:

  • Take a Scenic Walk: Stroll along the park’s paved pathways and enjoy panoramic views of the ocean, Santa Monica Pier, and surrounding coastline.
  • Picnic in the Park: Pack a picnic and relax in one of the park’s designated picnic areas while taking in the serene surroundings and ocean breeze.
  • Explore the Gardens: Discover a variety of native plants and flowers in the park’s landscaped gardens, including succulents, cacti, and colorful blooms.
  • Enjoy Outdoor Activities: Engage in outdoor activities such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation in the tranquil setting of Palisades Park.

Immersive Art Experience at Bergamot Station

Art enthusiasts will delight in exploring the galleries and exhibitions at Bergamot Station, a vibrant arts complex located in Santa Monica. Housed in a former industrial site, this cultural hub features contemporary art galleries, studios, and public art installations.

What to Do:

  • Gallery Hop: Wander through the diverse range of galleries showcasing contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and mixed-media artworks by local and international artists.
  • Attend Exhibition Openings: Keep an eye out for exhibition openings and artist receptions held regularly at Bergamot Station, offering the opportunity to meet artists and discuss their work.
  • Participate in Workshops: Join art workshops and classes offered by resident artists, covering various mediums and techniques for artists of all skill levels.
  • Admire Public Art: Explore the outdoor spaces of Bergamot Station adorned with public art installations and sculptures, adding an extra dimension to the art experience.


Santa Monica, CA, offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy. From the iconic Santa Monica Pier and picturesque beaches to cultural landmarks like Third Street Promenade and Bergamot Station, there’s something for everyone to discover in this vibrant coastal city. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing day by the ocean, Santa Monica has it all. So, plan your visit and embark on an unforgettable journey in this charming seaside destination.

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