Iconic Santa Monica Pier 1

When you’re talking about a destination as iconic as Santa Monica, it’s hard to believe that the famous attractions actually could live up to their reputation. But we are here to declare that, without a doubt, Santa Monica’s most iconic attractions are worth the hype! Mark down these nine experiences as a “must” for your next California holiday.

You Had To Be There

Snap a photo at Santa Monica Pier: with a rich history dating back to 1909, the Santa Monica Pier is the second most-Instagrammed place in the entire world... and for good reason. Pacific Park is legendary for its rides where you can wave to the waves from up high as you take a spin on Pacific Wheel and stay merry as you go ‘round on the Santa Monica Pier Carousel. Everyone is invited to have a good time at this family-friendly beachside community.

Flex at Muscle Beach: The Original Muscle Beach Santa Monica has been a stage for athletes to perfect their poses since the 1930s. For nearly 100 years, people have come to work out or watch a workout by the beach. Why not embrace the fitness fanaticism that Santa Monica’s famous for and test your own strength at the retro ropes and parallel bars? 

Get your kicks at the end of Route 66: Hire a car, drop the top, and experience a bit of true Americana! In the USA, there’s no better way to enjoy the scenery than a road trip. Take a ride down Route 66, which famously runs from Chicago to Santa Monica, or even down a stretch of Highway 1, which runs up and down the coast of California. At least click the camera to commemorate the moment you saw the end of Route 66 right next to the ocean! 

End of Route 66

The Taste of SoCal

Take a Soda Jerks Fountain Tour: Throw it back to Hollywood’s golden era with a stop at Soda Jerks. Located in the landmark Carousel building on Santa Monica Pier, Soda Jerks keeps the Pier classic. Visitors can get a taste of hand-pumped soda fountains and carefully crafted ice cream sundaes like they were made in their golden age. Take a tour to get a demonstration of how three classic confections are made, learn the history of the real Soda Jerks, and - of course - enjoy a scoop or two. 

Reserve your seat at a restaurant: Santa Monica’s culinary scene is absolutely buzzing. From celebrity chefs to multicultural cuisines, tasting your way through Santa Monica is the only way to understand it. At Azule Taqueria, visitors can experience Cali Mex at its purest by eating a taco (or five) by the ocean. At Wexler’s Deli, visitors can feel the love and tradition that goes into classic Jewish deli dishes. Visitors can also experience two Michelin Star dining at Melisse, the exquisite work of Chef Josiah Citrin.

Peruse the farmers markets: Santa Monica’s relationship to fitness and wellbeing is deeply connected to its appreciation for locally-sourced produce. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, pop by the Downtown Farmers Markets to ogle the organic fruits and vege, sample the fresh seafood, and bask in the aromas of baked goods. On Sundays, spend a lazy day exploring the Santa Monica Main Street Farmers Markets where you’ll can keep shopping for produce or have some ol’ fashioned fun listening to live music, get your face painted, and even participate in a cooking demonstration.

Farmers Market in Santa Monica

Active Exploration 

Get high at trapeze school: Take your athletic performance from Muscle Beach one step further with a lesson at Trapeze School New York’s Santa Monica location. Don’t worry - no flying experience necessary! You’ll learn everything you know to make the catch as you soar above the Pacific Ocean waves.  

Visit Cayton Children’s Museum: Santa Monica is practically one big playground, thanks to its stunning parks and exciting street art. But kids can really feel free to explore and express themselves at the one-of-a-kind Cayton Children’s Museum. The imaginative exhibits, such as the Courage Climber, Wishing Wall, and Help-A-Copter encourage children to make their make-believe come true, play together, and reach for the stars.

Ride on a Street Art Bike Tour: Santa Monica has expanded its reputation of being an art hub by becoming a mecca for street artists. Turn your exploration up to high gear by taking a street art bike tour. It’s doubtlessly the most efficient way to see it all and we guarantee that it’ll be the most fun way, too. 

Above Bike Path View Joakim Lloyd Raboff