Santa Monica/Beach Cities Attractions in Los Angeles

The ocean, the climate, the upscale hotels and the European vibe all make Santa Monica is a huge destination for tourists. This list of top destinations in Santa Monica (and the neighboring beach cities) covers both the essentials and some less well-known attractions.

Top Santa Monica sites include the Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade. The Pier features a wide spectrum of kid-friendly activities, including an arcade, amusement park rides, and an aquarium. The Promenade is both a shopping center and pedestrian friendly space featuring street performers; adjacent Santa Monica Place mall is recently re-opened as an open-air shopping center. Also nearby is Fred Segal, basically a collection of many small boutique vendors.

The Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk is a quintessential Southern California experience, giving you some of the flavor of the traditionally counter-culture Venice scene. The Abbot Kinney Boulevard restaurant and shopping district is another Venice staple, showcasing the newer affluent side of this famous beach community.

More offbeat sites are included on this list as well: the Camera Obscura and the Lake Shrine are prime examples of quirky (and free!) destinations in the area. The Eames House is a famous modern Case Study House that was an important location in the California Design movement; the grounds are open to the public (but be sure to park a little but away from the house itself!).

A little farther inland, Bergamot Station is a renovated train station that features a host of art galleries and is home to the Santa Monica Art Museum.

expert pick

Venice Beach's Ocean Front Walk

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Great people watching, funky stores, and the beach!... read more

The Getty Villa Malibu

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17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
1 mile N. of Sunset Blvd., Malibu

Smaller Getty museum near the ocean that is filled with antiquities... read more

Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade & Broadway

Open air pedestrian shopping/hangout area in downtown Santa Monica... read more

Santa Monica Place

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1453 3rd Street Promenade

Outdoor mall at one end of the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade... read more

Eames House

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203 Chautauqua Boulevard

Accessible Case Study House... read more

Bergamot Station

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2525 Michigan Ave
East of Cloverfield Blvd

History, Art and Much More... read more

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Stroll Along... read more

Camera Obscura

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1450 Ocean Avenue
Senior Recreation Center

Free low-key camera obscura... read more

Lake Shrine

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17190 Sunset Boulevard

Home of Gandhi's ashes... read more
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