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Things to do in Santa Monica without visiting the Santa Monica Pier

Published on May 22, 2020

The beach city of Santa Monica is located on the western edge of Los Angeles and offers miles of pristine Pacific Ocean coastline, along with many other area attractions and amenities. Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is one of the top destinations for both tourists and locals alike to visit but if you’re looking for things to do this weekend in Santa Monica and find your favorite places are closed or you just can’t make it to the Pier, here’s a list of our favorite activities to do around the area:

Beach Activities

Santa Monica State Beach is often ranked among the best beaches in the world. Going to surf, paddle board or swim in the Pacific Ocean is easy from the Lot 1 North, just off of the famed Pacific Coast Highway. You can also reach the beach by way of the Metro Expo Line which terminates at 4th Street and Colorado Blvd in Downtown Santa Monica, just a 10 minute walk from the sand.

If you don’t feel like getting wet, you can enjoy a leisurely bike ride or stroll along Ocean Front Walk, a paved bike and pedestrian path that runs the 3.5 miles length of the Santa Monica Coast. The path is the northern-most part of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail which continues south for 20 miles all the way to Torrance County Beach. The bicycle trail was officially named in 2006 for Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude and dedicated by State Senator Sheila Kuehl.

While on your stroll, be sure to grab a smoothie or coffee from one of the any local shops along Ocean Front Walk. You can even grab a breakfast to go for your walk along the beach from a local restaurant like Dogtown Coffee or Demitasse.


Two women with bikes on the Santa Monica boardwalk

Photo Credit: @rachel_angles

Non-Beach Activities

Maybe you want to see what the city has to offer besides the sand and water. If you’re looking to do a physical activity, there are plenty of hiking trails in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains that will make you forget you’re on the West coast. Some of our favorites are Temescal Canyon, which is located in the Pacific Palisades which faces the coast on the West side of the mountain but has views of all Los Angeles, including downtown LA, at it’s peak. Los Leones is another popular trail nearby, as well as Will Rogers State Historic Park. Will Rogers Park has plenty of hiking trails, horse riding trails, picnic areas and more.

Get your retail therapy fix from a local store in one of the several different shopping areas in Santa Monica. Please contact each store individually to see if they offer curbside pickup. Visit Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade in a one-stop shop. The outdoor mall and popular car-free promenade have over 80 retailers combined. Head a few blocks north and you’ll be on the hip Montana Avenue, which has a slower pace than other areas of Santa Monica. On the southern edge of the city, you’ll find Main Street, which has an eclectic collection of all different types of stores.

Another option for a fun day activity is to just get in the car and drive one of the many infamous roads in Los Angeles. There are plenty of scenic drives around town but we recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Zuma Beach – you’ll start your trek at the Santa Monica Pier and head north into Malibu, driving along the coast the whole way. Another fun trip is taking Wilshire Boulevard from Downtown L.A. to the Pacific Coast Highway, where you’ll drive through several different Los Angeles neighborhoods and get a feel for the diverse and unique cultures the city has to offer.

Temescal Canyon overlooking the Santa Monica Coastline

View from top of Temescal Canyon


Feature image courtesy of @angiespiced_latte