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How to Spend 3 Days in Santa Monica

How to Spend 3 Days in Santa Monica

Thanks to more than 300 days of sunny weather every year, Santa Monica is an ideal destination in any season and the perfect getaway spot for a three-day weekend. It’s also a good base for exploring other areas of Southern California like Los Angeles, Malibu, and Venice Beach. Here are some ways of enjoying three days in Santa Monica.

Day 1: Beach and Bikes

The best way to explore a California coastal town like Santa Monica is on a classic beach cruiser. Hop on a rental, and ride down the Marvin Braude Beach Trail. This 22-mile-long (35-kilometer-long) trail, known as "the Strand,"  begins in Santa Monica and ends at Torrance Beach. Enjoy the route’s scenic views and feel the ocean breezes in true West Coast style. 

Afterward, set out your towel for some fun in the sun on the city’s famous beach. Surfing and paddleboarding are popular activities here, and rentals and lessons readily available. To round out your day, head to the Santa Monica Pier in the evening for a leisurely stroll and plenty of people watching. Enjoy the rides at Pacific Park®  amusement park, and hop on the iconic Pacific Wheel to see stunning nighttime views of the coast and the city.

Day 2: Visiting the Neighbors

Santa Monica’s convenient location makes it a great home base for day trips to sights in other nearby cities.  You can take a guided bus tour to Los Angeles and see the city’s main attractions, like Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Sign. Or head to Marina del Rey for a sunset cruise or a whale-watching excursion. You can also visit the posh, quiet city of Malibu for more majestic ocean views; or stay close and ride south to nearby Venice Beach to wander its boardwalk, which offers a more colorful atmosphere than Santa Monica—while there, be sure to check out the city’s Italian-inspired canals. 

If you’re traveling with kids, use the day to visit a theme park. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios is a 45-minute drive from Santa Monica, and Disneyland Park®  in Anaheim is about an hour’s drive away. Just make sure to allow extra time in case you get stuck in Southern California’s notoriously heavy traffic.

Day 3: Sightseeing by the Sea

While Santa Monica’s expansive beach is probably the city’s most popular attraction,  there are plenty of other sights and activities to enjoy, including shops, restaurants, and art galleries. On your last day in town, head to Bergamot Station—Southern California's largest art gallery complex and cultural center—to visit its roughly 30 galleries and creative businesses. You can enjoy a roster of rotating exhibitions and take part in community events that are held throughout the year. Alternatively, you can join a docent-led tour of the Marion Davies Guest House, the only remaining structure from Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst’s storied 1930s estate.

In the afternoon, head to the Third Street Promenade, an open-air, car-free pedestrian mall located on Third Street between Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to designer duds. Plus, you can grab drinks or dinner at one of the area’s numerous restaurants.

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11 Tours and Activities | All Santa Monica Tours

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Perfect 5 ½ Hour LA & Hollywood Tour from Santa Monica

Perfect 5 ½ Hour LA & Hollywood Tour from Santa Monica

star-4.5
Visit many of Los Angeles’s highlights and landmarks on one fun and convenient outing. Learn about LA history and culture—its historic filming locations and crime scenes, celebrity homes and trendy restaurants—from a narrator as you traverse the city in a convertible bus. Stop at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, a farmer's market for lunch, and the Hollywood Sign on this easy and affordable tour.
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$89.25
From
$89.25
Taking safety measures

Small Group Electric Bicycle Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Small Group Electric Bicycle Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach

star-5
Take a pedal-powered tour through the beaches and streets of the famous Santa Monica and Venice Beach areas of Los Angeles during this electric bike tour. Skip the tour bus as you enjoy fresh ocean breezes and laid back riding with a guide aboard an electric bicycle. Cruise the famous canals of Venice and cycle the trails along Santa Monica Beach, choosing if you want to use your own leg power or get a boost from your electric-powered cycle. This L.A. electric bike trip also includes a helmet rental and bottled water.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.00
From
$79.00
Taking safety measures

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour

star-4.5
Explore the beautiful outdoor environment of Santa Monica and Venice Beach during this Segway tour in Los Angeles. Cover lots of ground (much more than you could see on a walking tour) as you zip along to the many attractions of these two coastal areas, including Santa Monica Pier, the Venice Boardwalk, and Muscle Beach. Along the way, hear insightful commentary from your guide about the area’s history and culture. Your Segway excursion also includes a brief orientation, safety equipment, and snacks and beverages.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$159.00
From
$159.00
Taking safety measures

Self-Guided Santa Monica Tour in a California Roadster Rental

Self-Guided Santa Monica Tour in a California Roadster Rental

Cruise the sun-drenched streets of seaside Santa Monica in style with this 3-hour rental of a one-of-a-kind, electric-powered California roadster. Pick three cruising companions as you drive along oceanfront streets and the iconic pier of this famous coastal community, drawing envious glances from other drivers and pedestrians as you zoom past. You'll even be helping the environment while you do it. It’s the perfect way to independently explore the city in style.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$158.67
per group
From
$158.67
per group

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Adventure Tour

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Adventure Tour

star-5
Santa Monica is one of the best neighborhoods to explore by bike with its colorful characters, sights and sounds. Since it's also an artistic and creative area of LA, this tour seizes the opportunity to introduce you to legal graffiti street galleries and the best of the local sculpture and architecture. Clocking in at nearly three hours long, this two-wheeled adventure will leave your legs a bit more toned and your stomach ready for lunch.
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$73.60
From
$73.60

Taste of Santa Monica Walking Food Tour

Taste of Santa Monica Walking Food Tour

star-4.5
The 2-3-hour Santa Monica Walking Food Tour allows you to not only absorb the sights and sounds of the famous Downtown Santa Monica, but also the delicious flavors from West LA's beloved eateries. Perfect for families with a taste for the decadent, the tour is led by a knowledgeable local guide who points out the fun street scenes and amazing ocean views. Even better, you leave with a sated appetite
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$84.27
From
$84.27

Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach

star-2
Soak up the sand, surf and sun of the waterfront cities of Venice, Santa Monica and Marina del Rey during this 3-hour sightseeing trip aboard an electric-powered Cadillac Escalade limo. Feel like a Hollywood player as you cruise the streets of these beachfront meccas aboard your open-air ride, enjoying live commentary from a guide during the trip. Along the way you’ll also have 90 minutes to enjoy these areas’ excellent shopping and dining options on foot.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$53.27
From
$53.27

Santa Monica or Venice Beach Surf Lesson

Santa Monica or Venice Beach Surf Lesson

Learn the basic skills to start surfing with a lesson in Santa Monica or Venice Beach. Join a local surfer to discover how to paddle and how to stand up on a surfboard. Get tips including how to pick the best waves and how to read the weather. Give your new skills a try in the water during this morning lesson.
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  • 2 hours
From
$139.00
From
$139.00

Santa Monica Sweet Spots Dessert Bike Tour

Santa Monica Sweet Spots Dessert Bike Tour

star-4
For some, riding a bike through Los Angeles is the antithesis of the Southern California lifestyle. However few neighborhoods in LA lend themselves to biking as much as Santa Monica. The 2-3 hours, family-friendly Santa Monica Dessert Bike Tour rewards your efforts not only with amazing views of the Pacific and toned legs, but also with some of the city's tastiest hand-crafted desserts. So absorb the colorful landscape of The City of Angels like a local — on two wheels — but be sure to bring your sweet tooth.
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$94.94
From
$94.94

Self-Guided Santa Monica Tour in a Moke Electric Car Rental

Self-Guided Santa Monica Tour in a Moke Electric Car Rental

Cruise the sun-drenched streets of seaside Santa Monica in style with this 3-hour rental of a one-of-a-kind, electric-powered Moke vehicle. Pick a cruising companion as you drive along oceanfront streets and the iconic pier of this famous coastal community, turning the heads of drivers and pedestrians they check out your vintage ride. It’s the perfect way to independently explore the city in style.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$212.00
per group
From
$212.00
per group

Santa Monica Place Shop and Explore

Santa Monica Place Shop and Explore

star-4
Discover Santa Monica’s world-class shopping, California-fresh cuisine and iconic pier with a package that offers access to some of the city’s most beloved attractions. Ride a cruiser bike along broad, palm-lined avenues, experience unlimited rides at the Santa Monica Pier, and enjoy the luxury of valet parking and concierge service. Spend the day shopping the city’s glamorous boutiques, pause for a complementary treat at Ugo Café, and remember your day on the coast with a a keepsake tote bag.
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  • 3 to 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$65.00
From
$65.00