Santa Monica Attractions & Things to Do
Sights & Sounds of Southern California
Sure, the Santa Monica sun and sand are beautiful — but what lies beyond the shoreline? Even if you can’t get enough of the beach scene right by our hotel, make sure to check out our top picks for fun Santa Monica attractions, activities, places to shop, and sights you really don’t want to miss.
Catch at Hotel Casa del Mar
As vibrant as the coast on which it sits, Catch Restaurant overlooks the Pacific Ocean at Hotel Casa del Mar. From oysters and simply grilled fish to braised short ribs and organic roasted chicken, there is something for every palate. The panoramic views and sophisticated decor also feature a cocktail and wine program that will give you a brand new perspective on dining out. Spanish born Chef Gemma Gray is a well-established leader in the L.A. dining scene thanks to her commanding culinary style that blends timeless traditions with contemporary California ingredients. Insider secret: oceanview oyster and sushi bar with nightly happy hour from 5pm to 7pm.
Terrazza Santa Monica
Boasting a truly spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier, there is no venue in Los Angeles quite like Terrazza Café and Lounge. Mediterranean inspired small plates, Neapolitan pizza, California seafood, wine and craft cocktails. Its majestic oceanfront setting makes it ideal for small or large parties. Open from 7 am to midnight weekdays and until 1:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. Live music nightly in the adjacent lobby lounge (see website for talent schedule.) Semi private cabana seating for parties up to 10 available. Tapas night Sundays and Wednesdays and Taco Tuesdays are local favorites.
A beachside café and bar with indoor and outdoor seating, COAST’s menu is perfectly suited for its location. Rave reviews for the lemon ricotta pancakes at breakfast or brunch and the generous selections from land and sea throughout the day. Happy Hour Sunday to Friday 4pm to 6pm.
Weeknight culinary showcases include Taco Thursday, Pasta on the Patio and Burgers & Beer and Outdoor Summer Rosé Bar (see website for schedule)
1 Pico Restaurant
Santa Monica's address for California coastal cuisine with a view, 1 Pico sits just above the sand in the iconic and charming Shutters on the Beach. Los Angeles native, Chef David Almany, infuses his hand-picked local ingredients with his passion for Mediterranean spices. Favorites include the weekend lobster brunch, oxtail pappardelle, California sea bass, roasted cauliflower with tahini and the candy popcorn salted caramel sundae. Intimate tables for two, bar seating and semi private space for large parties available. Open for lunch and dinner.
Just one block behind Bayside Hotel is Main Street, an ideal place to unwind after a day at the beach and grab a cup of coffee or bite to eat. The area is a picturesque haven of beach culture and includes surf shops, cafés, diners, taco stands and sushi restaurants. Main Street also hosts a Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning with locally grown fruits and vegetables, pony rides, and crafts by local artists.
Santa Monica Place
The Santa Monica Place mall is the buzz of LA. With its custom-designed, beach-oriented Bloomingdale’s and brand new Nordstrom, this mall is comprised of top-tier department stores as well as other excellent retailers and restaurants. Its close proximity to the Santa Monica Pier and the beach make it an unforgettable experience for diners and shoppers alike.
Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian street in Santa Monica and a mecca for shoppers. The area is also home to a variety of talented street performers, three major movie theatres, great restaurants and countless shops.
Montana Avenue Shops
What Rodeo Drive is to Beverly Hills, Montana Avenue is to Santa Monica. This charming 10-block, open-air, retail destination is dog friendly and the destination for discerning shoppers and affluent Angelenos. Characterized by exemplary service and individual style, Montana is also a good place to have brunch and spot celebrities who frequent the numerous high-end boutiques in the area.
If you’re looking for an up and coming neighborhood, look no further than Rose Avenue in Venice Beach. Rose Avenue is where the Venice Boardwalk begins and from there you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops and beautiful scenery in between. Whether you’re looking to juice up or pick up the latest fashion trends, there’s a store for you one Rose Avenue.
Once the home of beatniks, hippies and Doors front man, Jim Morrison, Venice is a community that relishes creativity. It’s founder, Abbot Kinney, intended the area be an exact copy of Venice, Italy, and in 1905 introduced 16 canals. Over the years, many of the canals were filled in or fell into disrepair, but some were refurbished in the ‘90s. Visitors can take a relaxing stroll along the remaining original canals and view the unique, historic architecture in the area.
Abbot Kinney Shops & Restaurants
Chic, hip, and sleek, Abbot Kinney is the polished face of Venice’s bohemian culture. Unlike the variety of retail chains on Third Street Promenade or the posh boutiques along Montana Avenue, Abbot Kinney is Venice’s artsy take on sophisticated style. Along this street you’ll find a variety of one-of-a-kind furniture crafters, modern interior design shops, beauty centers, top-shelf wine bars, holistic healers, and out-of-print bookstores.
Organic coffees and fine teas are available for your pleasure at Urth Caffé. Enjoy a flavorful selection of these popular beverages in a setting that will certainly charm you. You can also try a wide range of scrumptious menu items to satisfy your appetite every time you come by.
The Rose Café & Market
This iconic restaurant in the heart of Venice has been welcoming diners since 1979. Chef Jason Neroni’s menu focuses on local Southern California cuisine with an international influence. The bakery focuses on American classics, as well as some of the original Rose bakery classics re-conceptualized with their innovative techniques.
Blue Plate Oyster
This neighborhood favorite serves fresh fare from Vietnamese Turkey Burger Salads to Kobe Beef Hotdogs. Perfect for kids, a quick bite or a refreshing meal, Blue Plate Oyster is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and boasts both a seasonal lunch and dinner menu.
Stella Rossa Pizza Bar
Stella Rossa Pizza Bar offers a select menu of 12-13-inch Neapolitan style pizzas highlighting a range of sustainable, locally-grown ingredients found at the Santa Monica farmer’s market and sourced by nearby purveyors. A tableside wine cart offers a selection of more than a dozen varietals paired with its seasonal pizzas to taste and try, and a selection of salads, artisan salamis, artisan cheeses and other starters.
Mann's Chinese Theatre & Hollywood Walk of Fame
Mann’s Chinese Theatre is the most famous theatre in the world. Each year, millions of tourists visit its forecourt and place their own feet into the concrete footprints of the stars. Having hosted film openings since Sid Grauman opened the theatre in 1927, it remains a masterpiece of architecture from its exotic and ornate interior to its jade-green bronze roof. Directly in front of the theatre and stretching along the surrounding streets is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, glittering sidewalks embedded with over 2,000 pink star plaques immortalizing the names of celebrities and famous fictional characters.
Mann Chinese Theatre, Read more
Hollywood Walk of Fame, Read more
Home of the Oscar's: Dolby Theatre
Have a star-studded, red carpet moment with a visit to the Dolby Theatre (formally known as the Kodak Theatre), which has hosted the Academy Awards, the ESPY Awards, the BET Awards, the American Idol finals and many of the world’s top performers. The Dolby Theatre is located down the street from Mann’s Chinese Theatre and offers daytime tours seven days a week.
The iconic Hollywood sign can be viewed from various points throughout Hollywood and surrounding areas. Considered to be a symbol of the glamour and lure of Hollywood, visitors can hike near (but not directly up to) the sign for the ultimate close-up.
This modern outdoor amphitheatre and local landmark is located off North Highland Avenue in Hollywood. The Bowl is the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and used almost exclusively for music performances. Local Angelinos know it’s the perfect setting to share a bottle of wine and enjoy an outdoor concert on warm summer nights.
The Greek Theatre & Griffith Observatory
The Greek Theatre is Los Angeles’ premiere outdoor theatre, and is nestled amid the trees of Griffith Park. This 5,801-seat theatre provides an intimate setting and state-of-the-art acoustics. The Greek has played host to some of the biggest names in show business, from pop to classical, reggae to rock and is still one of the best places in L.A. to catch a live show. While you’re visiting the Greek Theatre, be sure to travel further up the hill to the newly-remodeled Griffith Observatory. The building, which appeared in the final scenes of Rebel Without a Cause, is a great place to learn more about astronomy while enjoying unforgettable, nearly 360º panoramic views of the city.
The Greek Theatre Read more
Griffith Observatory Read more
LA Live & Staples Center
Home of the LA Lakers, the LA Clippers, and the LA Kings (NHL), LA Live is one of the most exciting places on the planet.
J. Paul Getty Museum
Located in Los Angeles, the Getty Museum at the Getty Center & Getty Villa showcases the Getty Family’s legendary collection of Western art against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views. Peruse European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs. Visitors may also want to make advanced reservations to tour the Getty Villa in nearby Pacific Palisades, which houses a comparable collection of impressive artworks.
MOCA: Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted solely to modern art. Its permanent collection contains over 5,000 works by celebrated artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Diane Arbus, and Jasper Johns. The museum is also host to elegant underground galleries, the Patinette Café, and the best place to find a unique gift, the MOCA Store.
LACMA: LA County Museum of Art
Explore a collection of more than 100,000 works of ancient and contemporary art at LACMA, the largest art museum west of Chicago. The museum’s lively schedule of special exhibitions, world-renowned film and music programs, and educational events are sure to please everyone from art novices to true aficionados.
La Brea Tar Pits
Down the street from LACMA is The Page Museum, home of the famed Rancho La Brea Tar Pits. The area is one of the world’s most famous fossil sites, recognized for having the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Visitors can learn more about a time when animals such as saber toothed cats and woolly mammoths roamed through the heart of Los Angeles.
Museum of Natural History
Visit one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history. The museum is filled with amazing animal dioramas, diverse specimens, precious gems, dinosaur bones, and artifacts covering 4.5. billion years of history that kids of all ages are sure to enjoy.
Rodeo Drive & Beverly Hills
Two shopping destinations known around the world from the pivotal scene in Pretty Woman, Rodeo Drive and Two Rodeo, have become even more glamorous throughout the years. Brimming with European charm and bustling with life, Rodeo Drive and Two Rodeo are the jewels in every serious shopper’s crown.
Enjoy a day of magic and wonder at the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland. Located about an hour’s drive south in the city of Anaheim, young and old alike will enjoy visiting the celebrated theme park, riding the rides, and spending time with the well-loved, well-known cast of Disney characters.
Universal Studios & Theme Park
Universal Studios Hollywood is heralded as the entertainment capital of L.A. The area includes a movie-based theme park with action-packed rides, behind-the-scenes studio tours, a movie theatre, outdoor concert venue, and CityWalk, an elaborate shopping and dining complex.
Warner Brother's Studio Tour
It’s the place where stars are made! Take a tour via electric cart through the studio’s legendary back lots, sound stages, impressive sets, and costume collections. Currently the busiest motion picture and television studio, Warner Bros. was the birthplace of movies such as Casablanca and Superman.
Paramount Studios Tour
Built in 1912 and perhaps the most famous movie studio in the world, Paramount is the only major film studio still in the heart of Hollywood. Enter through the famous Paramount Pictures arch for a guided, two-hour historical and informational look into the daily operations of a major motion picture and television facility, which includes a stop at the original Forrest Gump benches. Advanced reservations required.
Sony Studio Tour
Take a walking tour rich in history through the Sony Studios lot. Follow Dorothy’s yellow brick road, see where the Men in Black battled aliens, and where Spiderman cast his web. You might even get the chance to visit the working soundstages of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
Want to see it all? Take a guided bus tour through Los Angeles. You’ll be picked up at Bayside Hotel and driven through the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the sophisticated shops of Beverly Hills, and might even see a few celebrities along the way. Ask the Bayside staff for more info on arranging a guided tour.
Rancho Park Golf Course
This 18-hole championship course will take your golfing abilities to new heights. Opened in 1949 with the U.S.G.A. Public Links Championship, it has a long history of hosting opens with accomplished golfers. You can also experience this prestigious course with its many challenges during your Santa Monica stay.
Penmar Golf Course
Enjoy this executive length golf course that will help you take your game to the next level. Considered one of the best nine-hole courses in the region, your skills will certainly improve with each swing. Plus, it’s a wonderful walking course that you can enjoy as you play.