Santa Monica. The land of endless sun, sand and sea. When my company announced I would be heading out to California for a brief trip, I got pretty excited and I made sure to I book my tickets so I could have a little time to play. The last time I was in California was for Alabama’s 13th National Championship, and we were only in Santa Monica for a couple of hours. With almost a full 48 hours to explore this time, I had the chance to soak in more of this city and the sights. Below is a list of things you need to do during your next visit to Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is a given. The pier originally opened in 1909 and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. Located at the end of Colorado Avenue, you can’t miss this historic piece of Santa Monica due to its iconic entrance. The Santa Monica Pier is also the end of old Route 66, so be sure to grab a picture with the sign.
Pacific Park is an ocean front amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. Opened in 1996, Pacific Park is the west coast’s only amusement park on a pier and Los Angeles’ only admission-free park. There are 12 different rides located in the park including the Pacific Wheel (Ferris Wheel) and the West Coaster roller coaster. Despite the park being “admission-free” you will still need to purchase tickets for the rides. Rides and attractions are priced individually and range from $5 to $10. You can also purchase an unlimited wristband from the ticket booth that will allow you to ride all the rides as many times as you’d like.
Santa Monica State Beach
The beach is 3.5 miles long and is located parallel to the Pacific Coast Highway. The beach is located on the north side of the Santa Monica Pier and has lots of activities for visitors including volleyball, surfing, paddleboarding and more. If you go to the north side of the Pier, you will find the original Muscle Beach. This beach is the birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US during the 20th century and opened to the public in 1934. Stop by and play on “Santa Monica’s Playground”. The state park also includes Palisades Park which offers a great vantage point for people watching. Be sure to stop by so you can dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean.
Third Street Promenade
Just steps from the Pier is Third Street Promenade. The Promenade is three blocks of open-air, car-free shopping. Shopping includes a farmers market, numerous restaurants, several boutique stores, as well as fun things to do including bike rentals. It’s a fun taste of Santa Monica.