Santa Monica immediately brings to mind glistening images of the beach. Yes, the beaches are beautiful but there’s plenty else to do besides just sitting on a beach chair and getting a tan.
Visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which offers guests a chance to touch sea stars, crabs, sea urchins, snails, and sea cucumbers. The aquarium is just a $5 suggested donation and free for children under 12 when accompanied by a parent.
For people seeking peace and quiet, visit The Palisades Park, and experience stunning ocean views, wildlife, and sounds of the birds. A few blocks away from the beach is the Third Street Promenade—a shopper’s paradise. Thirty city blocks of retail stores, entertainment and dining awaits you. Stores include Anthropologie, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bebe and a huge Lululemon. For a delicious breakfast or lunch try Zabie's, a small neighborhood cafe.
Are you looking to relax? Experience a massage at the luxurious Exhale Spa located in the Fairmont Miramar hotel. The indoor spa pavilion has five rooms for services and even an area dedicated just to nails. Services include massage, facials, acupuncture, manicures, and pedicures.
For a different kind of a bar, go to the Basement Tavern at the Victorian, a wedding and events venue, which is only accessible through a parking lot. Only townies know about this secret bar. It might be a bit of a challenge to find the bar but it will be worth it. Pay attention to these instructions so you don’t get lost. First walk around to the back of the bar past the smell of the trash cans, navigate along a loading dock, then go down a flight of stairs near the kitchen, and then enter a dimly lit cellar filled with pine floors and dark green couches.
For the best view in town, enjoy a romantic dinner at the Penthouse Bar at The Huntley Hotel. Don’t worry about getting here early; dinner is served until 2am on the weekends. Contemporary cuisine and unique cocktails are blended in with a surge of style. Enjoy your cuisine at the cabanas and fireside hangouts.
Foodies must try the farmer’s markets located all around Santa Monica. Make sure you check their website for more information. The market, which has been open 20 years, operates only on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Experience all the pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, you want. Try a tasty Asian pear, or a delicious heirloom tomato. Get a chance to meet famous chefs from some of the best restaurants in town including Border Grill, Fig, and Fraiche.
On a rainy day, have a drink at the bar at Casa Del Mar, a luxury hotel on the beach. You’ll enjoy a view of the ocean and don’t be surprised if you bump into a celebrity waiting for a meeting with a producer.
On a Sunday have one of the best brunches at One Pico at Shutters on the Beach Hotel, and enjoy the belgium waffle and a mimosa.
Yes, there are loads to do in Santa Monica besides just sitting at beach. And hey, if you really love the beach, some of the places mentioned are just walking distance from the waves.