Stunning Santa Monica

by bella |
Published on

Take in the views, vibes, and vibrant culture of the chilled-out Californian city!

Beaches and culture

It’s no secret that Santa Monica is home to fitness buffs and the locals bring their workouts to the beachfront. The area’s renowned as the birthplace of Muscle Beach, which began as a venue for acrobats and wrestlers, but nowadays anyone can have a go on the parallel bars, swings, and ropes, all for free!

If you’d prefer a walk, head to the Santa Monica Beach Trail. It’s a flat paved three-mile walkway that goes all the way to Venice Beach and is surrounded by palm trees.

We spent an afternoon at Bergamot Arts Centre Complex, a collection of 18 galleries all circled around what was once a train station. The exhibitions are all free and you’ll see incredible video installations, paintings, and sculptures on display.

For a laid-back evening, we loved the comedy club at The Crow. You can find hilarious shows for adults and children featuring local comics, making it the perfect family night out.

Experience the pier

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was our first point of call, thanks to the unmissable Ferris wheel, nostalgic rides, and amusement arcades. If the pier feels familiar, it’s because it’s featured in dozens of movies including Forrest Gump!

There’s a carnival-like vibe to the area and you can spend hours soaking up the sights and sounds of street performers and musicians, as well as passing through family-owned stalls selling seashell jewellery and T-shirts.

If you’re feeling peckish, the pier is lined with burger bars and ice cream parlours. Beneath the seafront there’s also an aquarium with more than 100 species of fish and educational activities for children.

And as the evening draws in, we recommend Shutters on The Beach for a drink, it’s just a ten-minute walk from the pier and offers an incredible sunset view!

What to expect

Home to golden beaches, a thriving food and arts scene, and easy to explore on foot, Santa Monica has it all! It might be neighbour to glitzy and fast-paced Los Angeles, but this ocean-front city is far more relaxed in comparison.

With nearly four miles of sandy beaches and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the town is the ideal place to swim, surf, stroll along the famous pier, or watch the sunset.

There’s plenty of culture too, with impressive galleries, colourful art murals (170 in total), museums, and entertainment, so whether you fancy a laid-back or a lively stay, you’ll be able to have your pick.

Shop till you drop

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California, USA.City Street, Incidental People, Building Exterior, Palm Tree, Treelined, Travel Destinations, Store, Street Market, City Street

If you’re serious about retail therapy, Third Street Promenade is a must. It’s open to pedestrians only and stretches over three blocks. It’s home to all the big names such as Nike and H&M, plus an open-air mall with designer stores including Coach and Burberry. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 1pm, there’s a buzzing farmer’s market with local restaurant chefs in full swing. (Tip: Go down an hour before closing for great discounts).

If it’s artisan boutiques you prefer, head to Montana Avenue where the locals go. The tree-lined streets have a mix of fashion and furniture and it is more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of the beachfront.

For a sit-down in the sun after a wander, head to the Courtyard Kitchen for Californian classics such as burritos and grilled sandwiches.

Rest your head

We checked into the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows which, despite only being a stone’s throw away from the beach, is surrounded by lush greenery. With an outdoor swimming pool, early morning yoga classes at the Exhale fitness centre, a gym, gift shops and a hair salon, you can easily spend a morning being entertained by the hotel’s offerings.

The main restaurant, The Fig,  is the perfect way to start the day with delicious eggs, loaded pancakes and green smoothies.

Across the road is the Huntley Hotel, which has a slick “loungey” atmosphere inside. Upstairs, the Penthouse Bar has unmatched ocean views from the wrap-around windows, making it a great place for a sit down and a cocktail.

Need to Know

  • Rooms at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows start from £406 a night. Visit

  • Rooms at Huntley Santa Monica Beach start from £288 a night. For info, see

  • United Airlines flies up to twice daily from London Heathrow (LHR) to Los Angeles (LAX) with flights operated by state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. For bookings, visit

  • For more info on Santa Monica, please visit

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