Santa Monica

Anchoring the Westside of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is a beachfront city popular with tourists for its expansive beach and its famous pier, which are among the most popular coastal attractions in Southern California. Within the city itself, visitors will find a number of urban shopping districts and plenty of restaurants and nightlife.


The entrance to the Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica was originally developed as a seaside retreat at the turn of the 20th century. The railroad owners built the first version of the amusement park on Santa Monica pier as an attraction to fill empty train seats on weekends. Santa Monica grew into an urban, eclectic, and prosperous beach city whose real estate values are amongst the most pricey in the world. Santa Monica is a very desirable city whose people are drawn to its accessibility and its progressiveness as a community. Today, Santa Monica is a mixture of very affluent, single-family neighborhoods, renters drawn by the high quality of life, lifelong surfers, young professionals and students.

Tourists visiting the Los Angeles region will find Santa Monica one of the best situated locations to base their trip. There are plenty of hotel, restaurant and entertainment options, as well as close accessibility to major sights like Venice Beach, Malibu and Beverly Hills. Visitors can also take advantage of the beach cities' moderate climate; during the summer and fall, as the mercury soars to 100 in the San Fernando Valley and 90 downtown, Santa Monica usually remains at a very comfortable 75 degrees.

Santa Monica has three Visitor Information Centers that feature experienced Travel Counselors, foreign language line, tickets to area attractions and free visitor information on attractions, hotels, dining, museums, galleries and entertainment.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 65 65 66 66 69 71 75 76 75 73 69 65
Nightly lows (°F) 48 48 51 52 56 60 63 63 61 57 51 47
Precipitation (in) 3.4 3.3 2.6 0.7 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.8 1.2 2.0

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Get in

By car

Santa Monica is located at the western terminus of the 10 (Santa Monica) Freeway, about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and 7 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The city is roughly bounded by Centinela Blvd to the east, Ocean Park Blvd to the south, San Vicente Blvd to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

The tourist center of Santa Monica is the downtown area located near the famous Santa Monica Pier, which was once the western end of historic Route 66. By car, take the 10 Freeway to the 4th/5th Street exit, then head left toward the ocean. From the north, turn left off the Pacific Coast Highway (California 1) at the California Incline, which deposits you just a few blocks north of the pier.

By bus

Santa Monica is accessible by bus from throughout the Los Angeles region. Take 720 (night owl line 20) from downtown LA or 704 (night owl Line 04) from Union Station. The fare is $1.50; buses run every two to ten minutes during rush hour, every ten to twenty minutes otherwise. Lines 720/20 travel via Wilshire Boulevard between downtown LA and Santa Monica, and Lines 704/04 travel via Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard between downtown LA and Santa Monica. Lines 720 and 704 are faster than Lines 20 and 04. Lines 720/20 connect to the LA Metro Red Line at Union Station and at the Vermont/Santa Monica station; Lines 704/04 connect to the LA Metro Red Line at the 7th Street Metro Center and at the Vermont/Wilshire station.

A Rapid 10 Big Blue Bus, the downtown LA express 10, runs between Union Station/downtown LA and Santa Monica. Big Blue Bus express fare is $2.50. Also, the Rapid 10 Big Blue Bus connects Santa Monica to the Red Line and the Blue Line in Los Angeles subway system. Good for both local and express routes, the day pass for the Big Blue Bus is $4. The Day Pass can be purchased from the Big Blue Bus driver on board the bus. The 13 Rides pass for the Big Blue Bus is also available: add $1.25 to include the express routes. To purchase the 13 Rides pass, go to the online store, the Transit Store, or an authorized location.

By plane

For commercial passengers, the closest airport is Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX) just a short drive south. The LAXFlyAway bus offers a direct shuttle service between LAX and Downtown Santa Monica for $9 each way.

If you are arriving via LAX, you and your luggage can access the Santa Monica Downtown area for $1.25 by taking airport shuttle C and asking the driver to let you off closest to the stop for Big Blue Bus line 3. Once you step off the shuttle, exit the lot, and turn right, and look for a blue triangular-shaped sign at the corner of the street. Buses arrive every 15-20 minutes on weekdays, and every 15-30 minutes on weekends; this is a regular route, the fare is $1.25. Also, Big Blue Bus line 3 connects Santa Monica to the Los Angeles light rail Green Line at Aviation Station.

Santa Monica Airport (IATA: SMO) is popular for general aviation and business jet travelers. The following air taxi and air charter companies fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstreams down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals:

Get around

Many of Santa Monica's tourist destinations are within easy walking distance of each other. The city Big Blue Bus system operates a number of lines that link not only places within the city, but also neighboring Brentwood, Westwood and Venice Beach, making Santa Monica one of the relatively few places in Los Angeles where one needn't drive to get around. Traffic is very heavy in the downtown area, and during rush hour and weekends the city's main arterial streets (Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Lincoln Blvd) are choked with cars.

Both the Big Blue Bus & Metro Rapid (Red Bus) fleets include pneumatic wheelchair ramps & chair anchor points. Most stations are level & paved & stops are pre-announced (audio & visual). Fares for passengers with a disability are at 50%.


Throughout Santa Monica there are numerous pieces of public art to discover. From large murals to huge sculptures, there are almost 40 of these to check out.


A beach in Santa Monica


The Third Street Promenade

Santa Monica like the rest of the LA area is very cosmopolitan and attracts a lot of tourist shopping dollars.


This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $10
Mid-range $10 - $20
Splurge Over $20

Very diverse food selection, from high-end cuisine to burgers and tacos.





Santa Monica offers over 50 Happy Hour specials all over town, from dive bars to the high end hotels.

Unfortunately since LA and specifically the west side of LA is famous the world over for its night life going out and drinking in Santa Monica is expensive, normal prices for a domestic beer are $5 and martinis frequently range over $15. To that end the bars listed below are sorted by type and not price:


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $100
Mid-range $100 - $200
Splurge Over $200




Stay safe

Crime rates in and around the tourist areas are relatively low, thanks to an increased police presence and "neighborhood watch" campaign by business owners. While there is a large homeless population in the area, you're unlikely to be seriously bothered.

The small neighborhood around Pico Boulevard and 20th Street can be a little rough, side streets in this area are best avoided at night.


Santa Monica has several free City Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the area.

Go next

Routes through Santa Monica

END  W  E  West L.A. Downtown L.A.
Santa Barbara Pacific Palisades  N  S  Venice Long Beach
END  W  E  West L.A. Northwest L.A.
END  W  E  West L.A. Downtown L.A.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 14, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.