You may have seen photos of Santa Monica’s ferris wheel and wondered if you could visit it in California. You may have seen videos of the muscle beach or palm-lined walkways in Venice Beach and wondered if it was possible to visit both beaches on one weekend. These are the top things to do in Santa Monica or Venice beach on a weekend, or even a 3-day weekend.
Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach are located west of Los Angeles, just north of Los Angeles International Airport. They both face the Pacific Ocean. They are easily accessible by the 5 or 405, if you’re driving from Northern California, San Diego County, or Northern California. You can also fly from outside the state to LAX in a matter of minutes.
SANTA MONICA’S BEST FUN THINGS
Santa Monica is known for its cool vibe and sophisticated feel. Many tourists from all over California love this mix of California cool style and high-end luxury.
THE ORIGINAL MUSCLE BANQUET IN SANTA MONICA
This is the original Muscle beach, which was established in 1933 by gymnasts. A lot of athletes began to flock to this oceanside location. In the 1950s, a weight pen was built and it became a popular spot for bodybuilders as well as fitness enthusiasts. Muscle Beach is often referred to as the “birthplace” of the fitness boom.
SANTA MONICA PACIFIC PARK
The pier was built in 1909 as a promenade for local fishermen and a popular fishing spot. In 1916, an amusement park was built. It lasted until the Great Depression. Although it was revived on a smaller scale in the middle of the 1940s, it never became the popular destination that it was once. It was almost a decade before a complete renovation began. The result is what we have today: carnival rides and games, food, and a place for people to meet.
THIRD STREET PROMENADE IN SANTA MONICA
It’s not a vacation without some shopping. The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica was the perfect place for me. This is an upscale shopping and dining destination that’s far more expensive than the trinkets, fried food and other junk you’ll find at the beach or on the pier.
SANTA MONICA FARMER’S MARKET
California is the land of honey, milk and plenty of produce. Santa Monica Farmer’s Market is the best place to see the bounty of West Coast California. You have the option of either the downtown Saturday location, which offers mostly organic food, or the Main Street/Heritage Square Sunday location. Both locations offer soups and nuts, literally.
There are many options for fresh eggs, including Mexican cactus and Asian greens. You will also find delicious cinnamon rolls and French macarons. You can also find music, arts, crafts, and activities suitable for children like pony rides and face painting at the Sunday market.
RELAX AT THE BEACH & GO TO AN OCEAN SWIM
Last but not least, make sure to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. A quick stroll along the ocean’s edge is a pleasant experience due to the warm sun and the warmer temperatures in the summer. Water is quite cold so you should not go in full immersion. Even the most experienced surfers will wear wetsuits all year.
SUNDAY BRUNCH at ONE PICO
One Pico, located within Shutters on the Beach, is the ideal place for brunch. The elegant restaurant offers a stunning view of Santa Monica while you sip a mimosa or gin fizz. You can also enjoy the seasonal market menu at this restaurant. Their lemon ricotta pancakes were delicious, and their Eggs Benedict were perfect. Enjoy the view and linger!
Also, I suggest you take a quick trip north to Palisades Park. The 26-acre park is situated above the ocean on sandstone hills and offers some of the best photo opportunities we saw during our entire trip. You can wander through the rose gardens and visit the Camera Obscura. From the overlooks, you can see Santa Monica Bay as well as the Pacific Ocean. We guarantee you won’t regret it!
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