Santa Monica Beach

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Santa Monica Beach Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles is a beach packed with amusement parks, shopping, volleyball, surfing, & more. Come play in the LA sand with Party Earth. Los Angeles United States 34.015922 -118.504586
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Santa Monica Beach - Beach | Outdoor Activity in Los Angeles.
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Party Earth Review A nearly seamless continuation of the famed Venice Beach to the south, Santa Monica Beach offers a bevy of waterfront fun to suit almost any visitor’s tastes, from intense recreation to avid shopping to burning away the... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    Daily 5am–midnight, curfew enforced
    Pacific Park hours vary seasonally; check venue calendar

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot

Party Earth Santa Monica Beach Review

The Scene

Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles is a beach packed with amusement parks, shopping, volleyball, surfing, & more. Come play in the LA sand with Party Earth.

A nearly seamless continuation of the famed Venice Beach to the south, Santa Monica Beach offers a bevy of waterfront fun to suit almost any visitor’s tastes, from intense recreation to avid shopping to burning away the day on 245 acres of sand.

The hundred-year-old Santa Monica Pier marks the beach’s southern edge, where a landmark sign has greeted untold thousands of daily visitors since the pier first opened in 1909. The Pier is home not only to scores of restaurants, shopping stalls, and an arcade, but also the adjoining Pacific Park amusement complex.

If an historic Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and an aquarium don’t entice, there’s always the Pier’s trapeze school, while mellower types can pop down to the public chess tables – including a human-sized board set into the sidewalk – or join the ever-present anglers coaxing their lines into the sea.

Of course, Baywatch made this place famous for a reason, and though the lifeguards don’t really wear outfits that tiny, the rest of the three-mile expanse is awash in beach bods all year, from surfers and volleyball fanatics to bikers and joggers cruising The Strand, a 22-mile path that runs along the Pacific Coast Highway. It may not be a place to escape the crowds – although the crowds do thin out further north – but for fun in the perpetual sun and a chance to partake in a signature California adventure, it doesn’t get much better than Santa Monica Beach.

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Tip from Emma:

The city of Santa Monica has developed an interactive parking map with real-time updates that visitors would be wise to check before heading out. If you want to avoid the biggest tidal wave of vehicles, it’s usually better to use a parking garage a few blocks from the beach, especially on weekends.

  • Crowd

    Diverse mix of athletes, surfers, joggers, bikers, tourists of every ilk, beach bums, moneyed locals, wayward travelers, couples, kids, and more tourists. And then some more tourists. All ages.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Santa Monica Pier and adjoining Pacific Park include a roller coaster, a solar-powered Ferris wheel, a drop tower, bumper cars, and a pirate ship swing, as well as several child-friendly rides. There’s also a vintage carousel, an aquarium, an arcade, and a trapeze school on the Pier.

    Anglers typically congregate at the Pier’s edge.

    The beach itself offers several volleyball courts, public chess boards, and all the obvious fun in the sand and water. The Strand, a pedestrian and bike path parallel the highway, runs twenty-two miles from Will Rogers State Beach to the north to Torrance County Beach to the south.

    Bike, skate, and surfboard rentals available at Perry’s Café, which operates four branches north and south of the Pier (930 Pacific Coast Highway, 1200 Pacific Coast Highway, 2400 Ocean Front Walk, and 2600 Ocean Front Walk).

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    There are multiple places to grab food along the beach and on the Pier itself, though those in search of less tourist-oriented fare would be wise to head further southeast to Abbott Kinney Boulevard.

    Public restrooms and showers are plentiful.

    Parking in the lots near the Pier can be a hassle on weekends, especially after noon.

    A temporary memorial called Arlington West sets up just north of the Pier every Sunday, when from sunrise to sunset, volunteers lay crosses in the sand to represent U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq War.

  • Prices

    Most beach facilities are free and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Budget-friendly grub is easy to find at the concession stands, though food at the stands and along the Pier suffer the price bumps expected at any massively popular tourist area. Area parking ranges from $4–$15/day depending on season.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Any sunny day.

  • Close By

    The Annenberg Community Beach House (415 Pacific Coast Highway) is a public facility that features a splash pad for the kiddies, the historic Marion Davies Guest House, museum, and event space, a gallery, a beautiful public pool, a second-story view deck, and the Back on the Beach Café.

Santa Monica Beach User Reviews

Average rating:
THE California beach
Julie B. Nov 24, 2013
Santa Monica Beach was the first beach I went to when first arriving in Los Angeles. I am a native French girl and what stroke me the most was that it is surrounded by nearly everything! It is in close proximity to fancy hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and the famous Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier. To reach the beach, you actually have to go through the pier and its hustle and bustle. There, you can browse for souvenirs, food, rides and games; it is really exciting and fun! The beach in itself is really beautiful and clean, with surfers, waves (that are actually real waves compared to the ones in France), palm trees and sun. You can also see those typical lifeguard houses scattered across the beach, which give it the feel of California. Even if you are not a lying on the beach kind of girl or guy, but prefer to move, Santa Monica Beach is still a great place for you to go! There are beach volleyball courts available to the public and free of charge, you can exercise a bit with the exercise equipment available to the public as well (rings, ropes, swings, etc.) and there is a boardwalk (going from Malibu to Manhattan Beach) where you can walk, run, ride your bike or roller skate, and you can do all these things with the perfect view: ocean and sun! Because this beach is one of the best in Los Angeles County, parking may be a bother at peak time. Plus, the beach parking lot is quite pricey so I would suggest you to park somewhere else (if you can find a spot) and come walking to the beach, enjoying the great streets of Santa Monica on the way.
A beach with everything
Mo Yi L. Jul 2, 2013
A beach in the center of a variety of restaurants, entertainment, tourism, and the hustle and bustle of LA. The pier has boardwalk games and rides, and are always serving delicious funnel cakes. Souvenir stands on the pier are worth browsing around. There is almost always a long wait at Bubba Gump, so unless you are extremely patient you might want to go elsewhere for food, although the view from the restaurant is still nice to look at. The location is a bit touristy but to be expected with the 3rd street Promenade that is a few blocks away from the beach. It gets crowded at peak time and parking may be a hassle, especially if you do not want to spend so much. It's also not the cleanest beach, but that means you will be able to find the largest sand crabs here! They thrive at this beach and it's always great fun to catch them. Oh, I would suggest to ride the ferries wheel if you haven't. Great views once you get to the top, especially at night. Santa Monica is the best beach to do everything at- shop, watch movies, people watch, discover local artists, play carnival games, eat carnival food... The list goes on.
Clean, Pretty Beach
Daniela M. Jun 3, 2013
Santa Monica is an excellent beach. There is so much to do! If you get tired of lying on your towel in the golden sand, you can go on the rides at the pier, play games at the pier, eat funnel cake, or just walk along the pier. And even if you don’t set foot on the pier, it still is a beautiful backdrop to your view of the ocean. There are also volleyball courts to play beach volleyball on. This beach is generally very clean, and I have swum in the ocean here many times. This would be a fun date destination.
Summer Fun
Lauren N. May 23, 2013
My first California beach was Santa Monica Beach. For a midwestern girl, it was astonishing. The waves are ACTUALLY waves and the sun's rays sparkle and all that jazz off the water. It's definitely beautiful to look at. However, there's a lot of kelp that will get tangled in your legs if you decide to go play in the water, but I guess that's typical of all California beaches. I like that Santa Monica Beach isn't too far from UCLA, so if my friends and I want to have a getaway day to the beach, it's just a bus ride or a short car trip away. Also, it's proximity to Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier makes it more alluring as there are a lot of other things to do. However, it can get filled with a lot of tourists, so make sure to mark your territory well!
Tourists everywhere
Gor G. May 22, 2013
This beach is a popular attraction for a lot of tourists as well as a favorite hang out spot for the locals. Since it is so close to downtown Santa Monica, this beach gets crowded sometimes. If you're hungry, you should check out the pier because it has got some eateries. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a sit down place, you will find them on the pier. Make it all the way to the end of the pier and you may run into some fisherman. From the pier, you can see other beaches stretching away from you. There is also an entertainment park near by featuring a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel that is worth checking out. If you get tired of the beach scene, you can always go to 3rd Street Promenade to get some shopping done.
Water Party!
Gerard Nash G. May 20, 2013
If you haven't been to the Santa Monica Pier, you are missing out. This place is great and there's so many venues to see and eat in. It's even a great place to swim, although there should be some work done to renovate the beach. Some of the pollutants wash on the shore, and even if I do love a good swim, I would rather not run into some of the trash that washes on shore. This place is ideal for long walks on the beach, so if you and your friends (or date) don't mind a little bit of trash, then I recommend this place to you.
Fun and Sun!!!
Kristen D. May 15, 2013
This is such a fun place for the whole family. The pier is nice to walk along and there are so many things to see. The beac could be cleaner but it is still very nice. It is a short bus ride away for UCLA Students and the beach always leads to a good time. The beach is historic as it is the end of the historic route 66 (like in Cars). This is fun for the whole family. You can eat, walk and have a good time at the beach. One down side though is the walk from the street to the water. It is a long walk in stand which can have a tendency of being very tiring. Additionally, there is a bike trail along the beach which is very nice. The road is nice and smooth and you ride on forever. It's so nice and I love it. So much fun for everyone!
Santa Monica Beach is great!
Sandra C. May 5, 2013
Whether you're out, having fun with your friends or meeting up with family, Santa Monica Beach is an ideal spot for everyone to have fun. From swimming to building sandcastles and walking along the pier, Santa Monica beach provides endless possibilities of enjoyment. The weather is beautiful and the atmosphere is excellent for people of all ages. You can come early, stay late, and enjoy the lovely sunset. Santa Monica Beach offers and array of rides and games, food and shopping. It is, without a doubt, the perfect place to go on a nice, sunny day.
Perfect for Summer
Denisse B. Apr 17, 2013
Santa Monica Beach is famed for it's beautiful view, incredible pier, and its up scale location. The sand is smooth, the air is fresh, and the water is incredibly cool. I absolutely love it and there's so much to do! You can swim, tan, relax, and listen to the beautiful sounds of the ocean. It's a nice place for some bike riding and running as well as watch some performers do outstanding things. Although Santa Monica beach can be calm, it can also be exciting! There's an arcade right on the pier suitable for all ages and many small roller coasters for everyone's enjoyment! The infamous Ferris wheel is a perfect ride for you and that special someone to overlook the scene of nature's beauty. There are places to eat and not to mention third street promenade is close by for a nice stroll. I really adore this beach and would recommend it for families, dates, and just for fun in the sun.
Favorite Beach Spot
Jina M. Apr 8, 2013
Santa Monica Beach is literally one stop for every tourist that visits. You get to enjoy the sun, sand and water. Then you get to hit 3rd street for massive shopping for your choice of brand. While shopping you can grab gelato or coffee to keep you going. Once you are done shopping you get to enjoy dinner at one of many exquisite restaurants. I love that most of the restaurant have an outside seating area where you can dine and be entertained by the street artists and musicians.
My Favorite Beach
Jasmit N. Mar 26, 2013
Santa Monica beach is such a chill and nice place to go. They have so much to do here. I love to come here at night and just walk on the pier and on the sand. The pier has so much fun activities to do and they have Dippin Dots. I love their Dippin Dots. They also have people make random paintings for you and they aren’t that bad. The beach itself is really nice and really fun. You can either go swim in the nice water, play sports with your friends, tan or walk the pier. It is also near 3rd street promenade so you can go shopping anytime.
Fave beach !
Amber K. Mar 26, 2013
Santa Monica is my favorite beach in Los Angeles. I went here on my first date, and it turned out to be a very very dry special experience. I had such a memorable time here. I watched the beautiful sunset here for the first time. The pier is my favorite part of the beach. They have entertaining arcade games to play. (They are a bit of a rip off, however). Pacific park has lots of fun rides. My favorite is the Ferris wheel, hands down. I would recommend it to everyone! I went on it at night and that's the best time to go on it because the pier and city is all lit up. It was one of the most romantic rides ever! He views are gorgeous. The pier also has entertainers who sing, dance, or do tricks. they have a coffee bean there as well which is where I get my caramel latte from. Overall, this place is very memorable and you will deck steps have a fun time here. It's very relaxing and peaceful to watch the wave and can be super entertaining. Perfect for everyone, especially couples and people going on dates.
classic LA beach experience
Annamarie P. Mar 26, 2013
Santa Monica Beach is an active spot! The pier has classic carnival rides and arcade games and some places to eat. Overall it’s pretty touristy, but fun to come and see the people and the action no matter where you’re from. It’s often crowded, but that’s because there’s so much going on. Santa Monica Beach isn’t really the best place for swimming, but you can go in the water. Sitting and playing on the beach is nice, too; it’s usually pretty clear and you can see the mountains on your right and way down the coast to your left. There’s also big playground like area with rings and bars and ropes that are really cool to watch people on or try out yourself. There’s a nice path that links Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach which is fun and easy to walk, jog, bike, or rollerblade along. You can rent bikes at either beach. It’s actually quite beautiful to walk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica Beach in the evening when you can see the setting sun and the hills as you walk towards them.
A day on the beach
Chanroop R. Mar 26, 2013
Santa Monica beach was an amazing and relaxing experience. It’s a great way to spend the day because it relaxing and fun. The Santa Monica beach has rides by the pier that people can enjoy also there is a place to shop near by, which is amazing. Not only that but it has amazing restaurants that you can eat at. Especially during the summer, it is an amazing place because it gives an opportunity to go in the water and swim. In the summer time it is the perfect place to go tan and have a great sunny day on the beach.
SoCal Icon
Ramandeep K. S. Mar 25, 2013
Considering that I'm a L.A native I still love this place. It's your typical SoCal Beach but the ambiance of the beach is what always brings me back. From the 3rd Street Promenade to the rides on the Pier, Santa Monica definitely delivers a day of fun. But I have to agree with the other reviewers the crowds do get annoying.
great for vacationers, not for locals
Jackson D. Mar 24, 2013
Its not a great beach but its a must see if youre visiting the LA area. All beaches are fun on a sunny day so its a great way to experience the stereotypically California lifestyle. As someone from the LA area, I prefer going to Malibu but thats a much longer drive. Overall you are guaranteed to have fun if you check out Santa Monica, the Pier is great for kids and there is plenty of food in the area. The biggest drawbacks are the crowds and trash but thats expected at such a popular spot
It has it all-- food, babes, and surf
Kevin K. Mar 22, 2013
One of Southern California's best beaches in my opinion. This has it all - a pier with awesome restaurants, great expanses of beach, Third Street Promenade for your shopping cravings, and of course SoCal's beautiful weather. Aside from the beach, the rest of Santa Monica is up on a sort of plateau, for lack of a better word. On the edge of this, there is a sweet walking/running trail with a beautiful view of the mountains to the north and the pier to the south. One of my favorite views in SoCal, aside from the one seen from Griffith Observatory.
awesome beach but not really for swimming
Duane L. Mar 5, 2013
Santa Monica beach is an incredibly nice beach that serves an excellent spot to relax and hang out with friends or family. With a wonderful pier that has many options for entertainment, including restaurants, arcade games, and even a ferris wheel, Santa Monica beach has a lot of features that other beaches simply do not possess. Having Third Street Promenade nearby also helps its case quite a bit. One con about Santa Monica is that the water is not particularly nice. Some people do swim in it but personally it isn’t something I usually touch. It’s just kind of dirty in general. However, the sand is nice and it’s still a great place to chill.
Wonderful variety
Alexandra W. Mar 2, 2013
The great thing about Santa Monica is the variety of activities available to satisfy every visitor, from the photo-keen tourist to the well-versed local. Third Street Promenade is only a few blocks in from the ocean and offers everything from vintage to Nordstrom. The pier is a treat even if you don’t want to wander into the glittering lights of the arcades or test your stomach on some of the amusement rides. Walk to the end around sunset and enjoy an absolutely gorgeous view of the sun setting over Malibu. Often there is a seal or two competing with the many fishermen for a meal. The beach itself is quite nice: white sand, plenty of lifeguards, and parking nearby for beach-goers.
Wonderful Family Beach!
Shasha S. Feb 24, 2013
Santa Monica beach is a wonderful place for both children and adults. Children can have lot of fun on the pier! There are many recreation facilities, for example, roller coaster, pirate ship... Adults can play beach volleyball, frisbee or just lie down under the sun with some ice creams, drinks and food. What a comfortable moment! Besides, it's near to the 3rd street promenade. You can do some shopping and find a nice restaurant to enjoy your meal. Parking is convenient. Add it to your must-go list!
Summer Paradise
Brianna O. Feb 24, 2013
Santa Monica is one of the best beaches to spend time at. From the variety of stores to shop at to the beach itself, you will never be bored. I personally enjoy walking along the pier and laying out the beach, but the city life in Santa Monica is awesome. You can stop by Hot Dog on a Stick for a refreshing lemonade, spend some money at the two-story Forever 21, or even walk around the carnival area. This beach is the perfect place for a break from school, a first date, or a fun day to spend with friends!
Your inner child
Zoe R. Feb 22, 2013
Santa Monica Beach is a great place to find your inner child all over again. On the pier there are countless games and activities, but it's typically crowded and a bit on the pricey side. The restaurants are conveniently located and well maintained. Off the pier offers a great place to get active as beach volleyball and other activities are taking place. Overall, it's a great place for a fun time, just make sure to come after payday as the fees start in the parking lot!
Crowded, for a reason
William O. Feb 20, 2013
Good beach, generally clean. Parking is always tough though, tight parking lots not good for a large car. Good restaurants close at hand. The pier is always fun, but is expensive. Good beach, crowded, fun pier, expensive, parking is tight, traffic always bad.
Smooth Sailin' in Santa Monica
Sean F. Feb 20, 2013
It's tempting to dismiss the Santa Monica beach. Sure, the sandy haunt beneath the boardwalk and pier attractions can get crowded, and the waves do not achieve the thunderous roar of some neighboring beaches, but at the end of the day, the Santa Monica beach is a fun and convenient place to spend a day by the sea. The beach has a little something to offer for everyone: sandy stretches for lounging, reading, or tanning, volleyball nets for some competitive fun, mall proximity for food and shopping, and of course, the Santa Monica Pier for fun games and old fashioned thrills. Its accessibility by car and public transit makes this beach a great backdrop for a pleasant day any time of the year.
A beautiful place to go with friends
Ruicheng H. Feb 2, 2013
In my spare time, I’d love to go to the beach. The sky is blue and always full of sunshine there. It is my favorite place to swim and bask where I can enjoy the bright sunshine on the beautiful beach. In addition, I can taste all kinds of fresh and delicious seafood in the restaurants by the seashore,. Furthermore, my friends and I often swim or play some games, such as beach volleyball there and I feel happy and relax.
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