Skip to content

Best things to do in Santa Monica

Discover the city through the eyes of locals. Find the best things to do, places to eat, and get priceless advice from the people who live here.

Recreation Center
“This bustling wooden wharf is the place to be, with its eateries, shops, high-tech arcade, roller coaster, giant Ferris wheel and other rides, famous 1922 indoor merry-go-round and fantastic views of the bay and the mountains. This place is legendary , even in our so called winter this place is busy with people and musicians everywhere. There are beach tours, bike rentals, and electric scooters for cruising (lime and bird). Download the apps.”
766local recommendations
Shopping Plaza
“Outdoor shopping scene. It has everything. A nice walk, crowded on the weekends.”
813local recommendations
Recreation Center
“Want to explore the child within you? Try the Ferris wheel (it won’t disappoint) and head to the pier end to see if the resident seal is there. Enjoy some cotton candy or corndogs then head to the beach to play on the gymnastics themed Beach Park (just south of the pier) Some of our favorite Santa Monica restaurants, the Blue Taco, and The Independence. Both are walking distance from the pier. We also highly recommend renting bikes at the bottom of the pier, and biking up to Venice Beach.”
315local recommendations
Beach Bar
“If art is life, then life is the art of capturing experience. Venice calls to the artist in all of us, inviting individuals to shed the normal and reach for the new, raw and eclectic. From soaking up the beautiful Bay views across sprawling sand beaches to shopping for treasures among Beat generation artists and poets, we invite you to explore, experience and enjoy the ways Venice speaks to your soul.”
303local recommendations
Lounge
$$$
“Great spot to see and be seen. Indoor, outdoor. Be ready for expensive drinks and gorgeous people -- twentysomething and up. Ping pong, pool, twinkling lights above! Check out 800 degree pizza at the end of the night.”
254local recommendations
Vegetarian / Vegan Restaurant
$$
“Vegan cuisine with dishes with names like "I am humble" and "I am blessed." Waiters provide the word of the day. Get enlightened!”
264local recommendations
Café
$$
“Same owners as Gjelina and also a popular Venice destination. Sort of a gourmet take on a jewish deli with homemade breads, pasteries, smoked fish and meats, and a whole lot more. Definitely worth a visit. ”
220local recommendations
Gastropub
$$
“Great organic food, wine and Ale. Indulge on the boardwalk, enjoy the view. ”
204local recommendations
Seasonal, globally-inspired fare in an iconic, all-day spot
$$
“Nice cocktails. Check out the bar on a week day or weekend evening for a place to sit and enjoy drinks over conversations with friends.”
179local recommendations
Café
$$
“Great breakfast and lunch spot. Delicious baked goods, soups, salads and sandwiches.”
155local recommendations
German Restaurant
$$
“Beers, fries, bratwurst, and a bill hall of picnic tables, usually with a DJ playing music. Order at counter.”
152local recommendations
New American Restaurant
$$
“A great spot for coffee, breakfast, brunch, or even happy hour and dinner. It can get busy, but even then the wait isn’t bad since there’s benches outside, newspapers and cookbooks to look at, stores next door, and the line moves fast.”
169local recommendations
Recreation Center
“Surf, eat, walk along the beach, sit out in the sun, have a BBQ, walk along the pier, enjoy the ride.”
63local recommendations
American Restaurant
$$
“Wait times can be long. So head down to the area early and put your name down. There is limited outdoor seating but it’s good for people watching. Be wary of their upstairs seating as some of the two tops are crammed into a corner. ”
99local recommendations
Deli / Bodega
$$
“This wine bar has an amazing selection of wines in a very urban and trendy place. Their food is also delicious. And like every spots on Rose Ave, you can walk or bike there from the bungalow!”
132local recommendations
Coffee Shop
$$
“The original location, founded by a neighborhood local. Several locations all over LA now. Coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch sandwiches.”
114local recommendations