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California

Santa Monica holidays

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Santa Monica made easy

Santa Monica is a city in California’s Los Angeles county, tucked between the bright lights of Hollywood and the vast Pacific. Unlike its glitzy neighbour, this city enjoys a relaxed pace of life, so you can truly unwind on your holiday to Santa Monica.

The golden sands of Santa Monica State Beach stretch the length of the city’s coastline, so you’ll never be too far from the ocean. The waves here are some of the best in California but, if you’re not keen on surfing, you can watch the ocean breaks roll in from bustling Santa Monica Pier. If you want to be close to the main attractions, like the original Muscle Beach, it’s best to stay on Main Street or Downtown, where you’ll be right on the shorefront. Looking for an upscale break? Montana Avenue, to the west, is packed with high-end boutiques and places to eat, as well as a historic theatre. Or go for Mid-City, Santa Monica’s artsy centre, if you want to soak up local culture.

If you’re on a tighter budget, or want to avoid the main tourist spots, choose a base near Ocean Park Boulevard. Here, you’ll get great value for money and access to the city’s lesser known gastronomic and retail gems. Families, meanwhile, should look at areas like Wilshire Boulevard, close to the popular Douglas Park green space.

Holidays to Santa Monica are ideal for those who like to chill out, as the seaside city is famously laidback. You can sun yourself on the sands, spend your days hopping between coffee shops, or watch the sunset from a beachfront bar. Or, visit one of the many farmers markets that spring up across the city almost every day, where you’ll find souvenirs and delicious produce to try.

Things to do

Nightlife

Daytrips

Best time to go

Things to do in Santa Monica

Santa Monica is packed with things to see and do, like Santa Monica Pier and its iconic Pacific Park amusement centre. And Santa Monica State Beach, which spans more than four kilometres, is perfect for sunbathing and strolling. Stop at the Camera Obscura, dating from 1898, or Tongva Park, where you’ll find modern sculptures and man-made waterfalls. You can also go for a splash at Annenberg Community Beach House, home to a private pool and loungers.

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If you like to surf, there are a number of places to catch a wave along the coast, including near Santa Monica Pier. Surfers and artsy folk generally congregate in Main Street’s coffee shops, which are adorned with fascinating street art. If you love art, head to Bergamot Station in Mid-City – it’s the largest contemporary art collection in Santa Monica. Shopaholics should visit Santa Monica Place and Third Street Promenade – these two large shopping areas are also packed with places to eat and drink.

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Santa Monica nightlife

Unlike neighbouring Los Angeles, Santa Monica’s nightlife isn’t about guest lists and dressing to impress. Most of its bars are laidback, particularly if you’re scouting out a watering hole in Downtown. Third Street Promenade and its surrounding streets are home to unique spots like Barkowski, a Sixties-style bar that pays homage to LA-raised author Charles Bukowski and serves more than 50 types of beer. Looking for a classic ‘dive bar’? Chez Jay is a local favourite, where you might spot a few famous faces too. You can catch live music at Harvelle’s Blues Club, the city’s oldest music venue, with artists playing everything from jazz to rock to funk.

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If you’re seeking a classier venue, the Wilshire Montana area has plenty of high-end bars and lounges. For a real treat, visit The Penthouse at Huntley Santa Monica Beach. You’ll get a 360-degree view of the ocean and city, as you cosy up in a private cabana.

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Daytrips from Santa Monica

If you’re looking to explore the wider area around Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray is a great place to start. The man-made harbour community is a 15-minute drive from Santa Monica and is a popular place for locals and tourists to try out paddle-boarding and kayaking. You can also experience the waters without getting your hair wet on a dinner cruise. More than 5,000 boats call the marina home at any one time – including super-yachts from Los Angeles’ rich and famous – so it’s a great place to wander and star-spot.

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Alternatively, take a 25-minute drive up the coast to Malibu. The 34-kilometre strip of coast is a surfer’s paradise and its spectacular sunsets are a must-see. Head to Surfrider Beach, close to Malibu Pier, to catch a wave in the world’s first World Surfing Reserve. If you’re there in winter, you might also spot migrating grey whales at northerly Point Dume.

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Best time to visit Santa Monica

Summer and early autumn are the best times for a Santa Monica holiday, as there’s little chance of rain and most days are hot and sunny. July to September is the most popular time to go, so you can expect the city and the beach to very busy at this time of year. Temperatures are pleasantly warm, in the mid-to-high-twenties, and it’s also peak surfing season.

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Show Less

Spring tends to be chillier. May and June can be overcast and foggy as Santa Monica is blighted by LA’s annual ‘June Gloom’. Autumn is often very warm in the city as strong seasonal winds – known as the Santa Ana – bring hot, dry air streams down from the Nevada Desert.

Winter is when you’re most likely to experience rainy days, although Santa Monica generally gets less than a few inches of rain during even its wettest month, February. 

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Santa Monica

Santa Monica is packed with things to see and do, like Santa Monica Pier and its iconic Pacific Park amusement centre. And Santa Monica State Beach, which spans more than four kilometres, is perfect for sunbathing and strolling. Stop at the Camera Obscura, dating from 1898, or Tongva Park, where you’ll find modern sculptures and man-made waterfalls. You can also go for a splash at Annenberg Community Beach House, home to a private pool and loungers.

Show More
Show Less

If you like to surf, there are a number of places to catch a wave along the coast, including near Santa Monica Pier. Surfers and artsy folk generally congregate in Main Street’s coffee shops, which are adorned with fascinating street art. If you love art, head to Bergamot Station in Mid-City – it’s the largest contemporary art collection in Santa Monica. Shopaholics should visit Santa Monica Place and Third Street Promenade – these two large shopping areas are also packed with places to eat and drink.

Show More
Show Less

Nightlife

Santa Monica nightlife

Unlike neighbouring Los Angeles, Santa Monica’s nightlife isn’t about guest lists and dressing to impress. Most of its bars are laidback, particularly if you’re scouting out a watering hole in Downtown. Third Street Promenade and its surrounding streets are home to unique spots like Barkowski, a Sixties-style bar that pays homage to LA-raised author Charles Bukowski and serves more than 50 types of beer. Looking for a classic ‘dive bar’? Chez Jay is a local favourite, where you might spot a few famous faces too. You can catch live music at Harvelle’s Blues Club, the city’s oldest music venue, with artists playing everything from jazz to rock to funk.

Show More
Show Less

If you’re seeking a classier venue, the Wilshire Montana area has plenty of high-end bars and lounges. For a real treat, visit The Penthouse at Huntley Santa Monica Beach. You’ll get a 360-degree view of the ocean and city, as you cosy up in a private cabana.

Show More
Show Less

Daytrips

Daytrips from Santa Monica

If you’re looking to explore the wider area around Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray is a great place to start. The man-made harbour community is a 15-minute drive from Santa Monica and is a popular place for locals and tourists to try out paddle-boarding and kayaking. You can also experience the waters without getting your hair wet on a dinner cruise. More than 5,000 boats call the marina home at any one time – including super-yachts from Los Angeles’ rich and famous – so it’s a great place to wander and star-spot.

Show More
Show Less

Alternatively, take a 25-minute drive up the coast to Malibu. The 34-kilometre strip of coast is a surfer’s paradise and its spectacular sunsets are a must-see. Head to Surfrider Beach, close to Malibu Pier, to catch a wave in the world’s first World Surfing Reserve. If you’re there in winter, you might also spot migrating grey whales at northerly Point Dume.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Santa Monica

Summer and early autumn are the best times for a Santa Monica holiday, as there’s little chance of rain and most days are hot and sunny. July to September is the most popular time to go, so you can expect the city and the beach to very busy at this time of year. Temperatures are pleasantly warm, in the mid-to-high-twenties, and it’s also peak surfing season.

Show More
Show Less

Spring tends to be chillier. May and June can be overcast and foggy as Santa Monica is blighted by LA’s annual ‘June Gloom’. Autumn is often very warm in the city as strong seasonal winds – known as the Santa Ana – bring hot, dry air streams down from the Nevada Desert.

Winter is when you’re most likely to experience rainy days, although Santa Monica generally gets less than a few inches of rain during even its wettest month, February. 

Show More
Show Less

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Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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