Escape to LA's best loved, famously funky beach-side city
Santa Monica is a beach-front city in western LA county. Hugging gorgeous Santa Monica Bay, it's bordered on three sides by LA itself, with Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood to the north east, West LA / Mar Vista to the east and Venice to the south east. As you can imagine, being not that far from Hollywood, an area steeped in the movie industry, the city is home to loads of celebs.
Get your laughing gear in good order for a hilarious night out at Mi's Westside Comedy Theater.
Over 50% of the city's residents work in the arts, making this a seriously creative place. The arts scene is lively and diverse: galleries and public art, museums, theatre and live music everywhere.
Sample Bergamot Station, Southern California's biggest art gallery complex and cultural centre
Enjoy a twilight concert on Santa Monica Pier
Spend time on Third Street Promenade for pedestrianised eating out and shopping without a car in sight
If you want to get a full flavour of the city, take a leisurely 26 mile cycle along the bike path – it's a lovely, peaceful way to experience the beachside sights, smells and sounds, paralleling the brilliant blue ocean.
Ultimate California From £1689.00 (inc flights and hotels)
Start your journey in vibrant San Francisco before heading to Sonoma for a taste of California’s superb Wine Country, then on to beautiful Lake Tahoe for unmissable outdoor adventures. Discover the rugged beauty of California’s spectacular Pacific Coast as you travel so...
The remarkable Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the USA's biggest urban national park. It covers a vast area: western LA from the Pier to the Hollywood Hills, then onwards to Oxnard's fragrant strawberry fields. The national park is perfect for mountain biking, hiking, cycling, horse riding and birdwatching.
Enjoy 3.5 miles of fabulous soft, sandy beach, an iconic example of California beach culture
Explore the 18th Street Arts Complex and Adamm's Stained Glass & American Craft Gallery
Sample Santa's mellow nightlife: live music, bars, great eats and Happy Hours aplenty
Add a visit to one of the city's remarkable farmer's markets, stuffed to bursting point with incredibly fresh locally grown foods, and you've nailed that unique Santa Monica vibe.
Visit Kanan, the road through the Santa Monica Mountains. From mid-March onwards, on the western side, for Spanish Broom flowers, incredibly vivid and bright.
Mi's is famed for its great value, great atmosphere, excellent acoustics and top comedy acts. Harvelle's Blues Club feels very like a speakeasy, the perfect venue to sample live blues at its best. And Palisades Park, with its shade trees, fabulous architecture and wavy pavement, delivers miles of perfect ocean views and includes a monument marking the end of the infamous Route 66. Plus excellent shopping, cool cafes and friendly locals. The small but perfectly formed Museum of Flying is well worth a punt, a fascinating collection Douglas Aircraft Company memorabilia including a genuine Boeing 727 cockpit, which you can climb into. Plus loads more vintage aircraft spanning various eras including World War Two.
Ye Olde Kings Head pub will remind you of home: noisy, cheerful and friendly. This city practically lives on the beach. A series of well-lit paths, clear signs, walkways and cycle routes take you seawards, south of the pier, and most roads lead directly to it. Tiny Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is something else, 'cute and small', a place where children – and grown ups – are allowed to touch living sea creatures including hermit crabs and sea urchins. And if you can't wait to hop on board a cycle or electric bike and get exploring, there are plenty of bike hire shops.
Dedicated California experts with a passion for the Golden State and the USA
Our team have all had their own California adventures, ask them for a few stories!