Evening view of Santa Monica Pier, sunset, Ferris wheel lit up
Live like a local

Things to do in Santa Monica

August 25, 2021

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An iconic Santa Monica attraction, jutting out into the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica Pier is located at the westernmost point and is packed with family-friendly activities. Its home to lively neighbourhoods, hip art galleries and buzzing restaurants.
Photograph of the Santa Monica beach at sunset

World-class restaurants

Santa Monica has world-class restaurants to explore after a day at the beach, from casual to fine dining. Michelin-starred Rustic Canyon is a laid-back farm-to-table restaurant that grew from a series of dinners held by its founder Josh Loeb at his treehouse home in nearby Rustic Canyon. Nearby Michael’s restaurant has a charming garden and is known for its colourful dishes, sourcing much of its produce from the neighbouring farmers’ market, while Citrin Restaurant, a fun Californian restaurant by chef Josiah Citrin, offers an out-of-this-world seasonal tasting menu and works with farmers from San Diego to Napa Valley.

Fabulous cocktail bars

As the sun sets through the pink and purple skies, relax in the sleek lounge areas of Canary, which serves tropical cocktails made by renowned mixologist Devin Espinoza. This is a sophisticated space decorated with lush tropical flora. For enticing cocktails in a sleek setting, head to The Chestnut Club and lounge on a long leather banquette. A signature drink is the Chestnut Old Fashioned, mingling Russel’s 10-year bourbon with Angostura Bitters. It doesn’t get more Mediterranean than Elephante, a fantastic rooftop bar and restaurant with its warm, natural décor, handmade terracotta tiles and stone-covered bars.

Two black deckchairs on a balcony, with two cocktails on a table, with a view on palm trees and a beach
© Elephante
View of Santa Monica Promenade lined with shops and restaurants

High-end shopping experiences

Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica is a happening esplanade and shopping destination. At Santa Monica Place, just moments from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier, you’ll find designer names such as Rolex, Tiffany & Co and Louis Vuitton. Montana Avenue, with its tree-lined streets and understated style, is also a great place to go for a pleasant stroll and offers a high-end shopping experience with over 100 eclectic boutiques – seek out Rangoni Firenze shoes, Cabochon fine jewellery and Flannel clothing.

Art galleries

Bergamot Station was once a railroad station, and now sports a selection of renowned galleries, including Richard Heller Gallery, Skidmore Contemporary Art and Galerie XII. Check out the seasonal exhibitions featuring artists from all around the world, with works ranging from photography to sculpture and paintings. The18th Street Arts Center, southern California’s largest artists’ residency, promotes public dialogue through its contemporary art exhibits, while Revolver Gallery houses the largest gallery-owned collection of Andy Warhol’s work, with over 250 prints and paintings for sale.

Art inside the Skidmore contemporary art museum
Courtesy of Skidmore contemporary art museum
Ferris wheel and roller coaster close up on Santa Monica pier

Santa Monica Pier

Jutting out into the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica Pier is located at Santa Monica’s westernmost point and is packed with family-friendly activities. Fly above the pier at the trapeze school, meet sea urchins and moray eels at the aquarium, or have a go on the historic merry-go-round, which has been housed in the Hippodrome since 1947. The world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel offers spectacular views of the Southern California coastline, and there’s also an interactive digital experience, offering a unique way to learn about its history.

Explore Los Angeles’ vibrant farmers’ markets, perfect places to dine and best public art when you stay at The Beverly Hills Hotel or Hotel Bel-Air.

Header image courtesy of Santa Monica Pier

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