TIP: Check the weather Santa Monica weather the first day of your arrival! Often in the summer sunny and warm in the valley may be cloudy and cool by the beach due to the marine layer.
When we take our out-of-town friends to see LA, this is where we go. Enjoy!
Note the beaches have very different vibes:
- Malibu is laid-back, and really about the beach. If you want to lay out and melt stress away, here’s where to find that.
- Santa Monica is fun, vibrant, busy. Lots to do, shop, and eat, and a lot of people.
- Venice is more hippy, fun. Expect drum circles, small shops, marijuana smoke, and a lot of creativity – artists and musicians.
- Marina Del Rey is sailing central and home for water sports
Click each location to open a Google Map, or plug these locations into your GPS for an easy & fun tour.
- Froggy’s in Topanga. Excellent artichokes if it happens to be lunchtime, but skip right past it and just stay on the main road – it will wind through the mountains before ending up at the ocean. TIP: this beats most of the rush hour traffic & is more scenic than sitting on the 405 going 5km per hour.
- Malibu Country Mart. Nice, posh place to stop by for a bite and shop like a movie star. If in the mood for a splurge, Nobu restaurant (owned by actor Robert DeNiro) is famous for sushi.
- History buffs & fun outdoor stop: Free Getty Villa is nearby and cool – ancient greek & roman empire museum in style of an emperor’s villa. Also, the Adamson House Museum is a short & sweet tour (45min, $3) with a bit of CA history
- Beach fun: rent a surfboard or paddleboard, or just hit the beach near Malibu Pier. You can park on the street, but read the signs and don’t park on red curbs anywhere in the USA (police / fire trucks only).
- A fun bite or drink overhanging the ocean: Geoffrey’s, known more for views and mojitos than the food.
- Santa Monica – 3rd Street Promenade. Great pedestrian-only mall, plenty of food and shopping and nice place to catch some sun and a walk. Stroll down to the Santa Monica Pier, just 2 blocks away. Good for kids and adults alike.
- Tip: Rent a bike here for ~ $12 and you can easily bike down to Venice, it’s only about 4.5 km / 2.8 miles of scenic paved paths. There are buses north and south if you get tired, or Lyft/Uber for just a few dollars.
- Scenic route home: GPS to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a taste of Beverly Hills on the famous Rodeo Drive. It’s a nice place for a walk, bite, or shopping.
- To get home to the valley a bit quicker by driving right through the Hollywood Hills, GPS to Tree People Park, but just stay on Coldwater then GPS to home (not listed here for security). In the mood to party or get a bit more scenery? GPS to Whisky a Go Go bar on the Sunset strip, famous for movie stars and entertainment history. If dressed to impress, stop in Skybar for celeb-sighting and $14 martinis by the pool (beware though: $25 parking and tough door policies on many nights!) or stop in the less-formal Bar Marmont.
- Still not tired out? Get a taste of Hollywood at Mann’s Chinese Theater for the handprints and stars on the sidewalk and hollywood history. Expect some traffic!
Another tip: This is best on Sundays due to traffic, if weather and schedules allow.