Santa Monica State Beach
Beaches & Beach Towns,  Santa Monica Attractions

LA Tourist Attractions: Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach is the beach most tourists head to when visiting Los Angeles. There are a lot of good reasons for this.

One is that it’s the beach the Television series Baywatch was filmed at. The biggest reason, though, is that in the middle of this 3.5 mile stretch of beautiful clean beach is the world famous Santa Monica Pier. The pier offers everything from street (pier) performers, to cool restaurants and food stands, to the almost equally famous Pacific Park amusement park. There’s an awesome merry-go-round in the Louff-Hippodrome building at the entrance to the pier and an aquarium under the pier.

The Aquarium is run by heal the bay and it about protecting the marine life that call the Santa Monica Bay home. There are over 100 local species on exhibits, hands on activities for the kids and educational programs.

Just south of the Santa Monica Pier you’ll encounter the Original Muscle Beach, the Chess Park with its life-sized chess board and lots of volleyball courts in the sand. You can also rent a bike or one of the e-scooters and take the bike path along the Southern California beach called The Strand south to the Funky Venice Beach Boardwalk and the Venice Pier… or north up to Will rogers State Beach.

There is ample parking in eight lots along the beach and one on the pier. Rates range from $6 to $15 per day to park. It’s a well maintained beach with clean powdery sand and all of the typical beach activities such as surfing and swimming.


The beach is divided into two sections: north of the pier and south of the pier and the charistics are different. On the north end, the Pacific Coast Highway and Palisades Park on top of a steep bluff separate the beach from the city. There are several bridge walkways leading from this section of beach over the coast highway and to the park/city above.  Palisades Park offers the best views of the ocean, beach and pier to be found.

On the south end, the city is on the save level as the beach. Beach access is available from any east – west running street south of the Santa Monica Pier.

There are a number of reasons to head into downtown Santa Monica as well.  Just off of the beach, you’ll find upscale restaurants, and 3 blocks east is the famous Third Street Promenade an open air shopping mall with upscale shops, restaurants and street vendors.

Check out our list of fun things to see and do in Santa Monica to make sure you don’t miss anything.  And if that isn’t enough for you take some time to explore the nearly unlimited things to do in Los Angeles under our LA Tourist Attractions link.  You’ll be glad you did.

See more photos after the break…

Santa Monica State Beach
South of the pier on Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach
One of the many pedestrian bridges to the beach on the north end
Santa Monica Pier
View of the end of Santa Monica Pier, beyond the amusement park and shops

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