Things to do in
Santa Monica

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Our most recommended things to do in Santa Monica

Los Angeles Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

1. Los Angeles Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

The open-top double-decker bus provides fantastic views and a great atmosphere to enjoy Los Angeles' charm. From the world-famous Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, and the TCL Chinese Theatre to the luxurious Beverly Hills. Your journey will be packed of fun with this fully narrated audio tour that allows you to discover over 15 locations throughout the city with daily departures from the starting point at the Big Bus Visitor Center Hollywood. Guests may also join the tour from any of the stops on the route. Air conditioning is available on the lower deck and recorded commentary is available in 9 languages. Location Highlights Include: Big Bus Visitor Center Hollywood TCL Chinese Theatre Guitar Center “Rock Walk” The Comedy Store Whisky A Go Go Beverly Gardens Park Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive Beverly Center LACMA La Brea Tarpits Farmers Market The Grove Melrose Shopping Paramount Studios 3rd Street Promenade Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles: City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Ticket

2. Los Angeles: City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Ticket

This hop-on, hop-off city sightseeing tour of Los Angeles allows you to see and explore greater Los Angeles. The narrated tour is now available in 9 languages. Enjoy the view from the open-air, double-decker bus as it takes you through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. Pick a 24-, 48-, or 72-hour pass, choose 1 of 3 Loops, or combine them and experience the freedom of a hop-on, hop-off city sightseeing tour. You may start from the Starline kiosk or at any of the stops. Board the Hollywood Tour to experience the glitz and glamor of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, including such world-famous sights as Rodeo Drive, Sunset Strip, Melrose Avenue shopping district, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theater, TCL Chinese Theatre, LACMA, Petersen Automotive Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and much more. Travel between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica on board the Santa Monica Tour, enjoying stops along the way including Fox Studios, the 3rd Street Promenade, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier. Take a solar-powered Ferris wheel ride at the historic Santa Monica Pier, walk or bike along the marvelous Pacific coast, and enjoy the heaven of shops, restaurants, and attractions at 3rd Street promenade.

Los Angeles: LA Grand Tour

3. Los Angeles: LA Grand Tour

Get a feel for the City of Angels with this full-day tour to some of its key sights. Experience a selection of its main attractions including ocean views and the Walk of Fame. After departing at 10:00 AM from Sunset Boulevard, be driven first to Santa Monica Pier. Stop here for 1 hour to take a walk down the pier, see beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, and visit the 3rd Street Promenade. Next, drive to an outdoor farmer's market for a 1-hour lunch stop. Here you can enjoy some of the best food in LA, freshly prepared from local produce. Enjoy family-friendly activities and shop at the famous Grove in Beverly Hills. Then, head for the Griffith Observatory for views of the Hollywood Sign, space and science exhibits, and downtown LA. Finally, travel to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Check out Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Dolby Theater, and take a photo with your favorite celebrity's star.

Marina Del Rey: Kayak and Paddleboard Tour with Sea Lions

4. Marina Del Rey: Kayak and Paddleboard Tour with Sea Lions

Start your tour at Mother's Beach. Your guide will provide information about the local environment and marine life, kayaking/paddle-boarding techniques, and safety while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of Los Angeles boaters realm. Then board your kayaks and paddle towards the main channel of the Marina. On the way, observe the beautiful and extraordinary boats. Begin your search for sea lions, birds, dolphins, and other marine life.

Santa Monica and Venice 3-Hour Electric Bike Tour

5. Santa Monica and Venice 3-Hour Electric Bike Tour

Try something new on your trip to Los Angeles and ride an electric bicycle around the neighborhoods of Santa Monica and Venice. Hop on a colorful Pedego electric bicycle for a relaxing ride in the sunshine, where you can enjoy the mild warm temperatures of Los Angeles. This 3-hour active and fun bicycle ride lets you choose whether to pedal or not, and takes you to places in the city often unreachable by car or bus. From the cushy seat of your cool comfortable Pedego beach cruiser you will ride along Santa Monica’s award-winning beach to the Marion Davies Guesthouse, Under the Santa Monica Pier, and through Venice to the Venice Canals. You will be accompanied by a storytelling guide with interesting facts about the local art, architecture, and history of the area while you soak in the sun, surf, sand, and ocean breezes. The bicycle allows you to choose your own comfort level between pedaling with 6 gears, using the electric motor power which puts the power completely in your control, or both. All bikes are equipped with state of the art disc brakes. The lithium power assist will ensure that you are never far behind. This 3-hour tour operates daily and is designed for bicycle riders aged 14 years and up who appreciate the joy of riding a bicycle with a surprisingly fun added option.

Los Angeles: Best of LA Bus Tour

6. Los Angeles: Best of LA Bus Tour

Take in LA's top attractions on a guided bus tour. See the sights you want on a customized tour with plenty of photo opportunities. Take in Hollywood, Paramount Studios, the Greek Theatre, and more. Stop at Santa Monica Pier and Beach, the Original Farmers Market, and the Griffith Observatory. Meet your guide on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Climb aboard the bus and head straight to Santa Monica. On the drive, listen to entertaining stories and take in Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive. See views of the affluent Bel-Air neighborhood and the Getty. Next, stop at Santa Monica Pier and Beach for an hour to explore the famous boardwalk, shop along the 3rd Street Promenade, and see why Southern California is famous for its beaches. Head back to the bus to take in Culver City and Museum Row. Get insider tips on the best restaurants and museums. Then, stop for an hour's lunch break at the Grove/the Original Famers Market, known for some of LA's best dining and shopping. Once sated, climb aboard the bus to be taken to your last stop. On the way, see the sights of Fairfax, Melrose, Paramount Studios, the Greek Theatre, and Griffith Park. Stop at the Griffith Observatory for an hour, where you can take in sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Take photos of the Hollywood Sign from the best angle. As you head back to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to end your tour, see the Capitol Records Building and explore more of Hollywood Blvd.

Venice Beach: 2-hour Group Surfing Lesson

7. Venice Beach: 2-hour Group Surfing Lesson

Meet your guide at Venice Beach, one of the most famous and lively beaches in California. Take part in a 2-hour group surfing lesson which is ideal for everyone from beginners (even first timers!) to upper intermediate levels.  Start the lesson by getting geared up with the wetsuits and surfboards. Head down to the sand with your group of 5-6 fellow students. Spend the first 30-40 minutes training on the beach and learning all the important aspects of surfing. Your professional certified instructors will teach you how to pop up on the board, educate you about the ocean and end the land lesson with the most important part - safety. After that, enjoy 40 minutes with an instructor(s) in the ocean getting coaching and helpful pushes. The remaining time will be yours to practice your skills and have fun in the water. After the class, an instructor will lead you to an outdoor public shower where you will be able to rinse off. Don't worry about your belongings, as you will be able to leave everything locked in the surf school van. 

California Coastline Helicopter Tour

8. California Coastline Helicopter Tour

Glide through the melting sunset over the California Coastline, sweep over the Santa Monica Mountains, or get great views over the exclusive homes of the Pacific Palisades. This is a unique and thrilling 30-minute helicopter tour exploring the Los Angeles Coast. The California Coastline tour is available at any time during the day and is a must for anyone who loves the ocean. Take off from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, heading south to fly over the Santa Monica Mountains and drop down into the spectacular coastal homes of Pacific Palisades. Fly low-level along the world famous beaches of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier, and Venice. On your way back to the Airport, you'll fly over the new Getty Center, with its grand architecture appearing ever more dramatic from the sky.

Los Angeles and Hollywood: 5-Hour Private Day-Trip

9. Los Angeles and Hollywood: 5-Hour Private Day-Trip

A private day-trip is one of the best ways to discover Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and the surrounding areas. Not only you will not have to share the trip with strangers, but you will also be able to customize it as you go. Start with convenient pickup from your chosen location, before seeing the best of what Hollywood and Los Angeles has to offer. You could choose to visit famous landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, walk along the Santa Monica Pier, and so much more. Take things at your own pace, with the chance to stop for dining, shopping, snapshots, or go for a stroll to the beach or the town.

Los Angeles: Go City Explorer Pass - Choose 2-7 Attractions

10. Los Angeles: Go City Explorer Pass - Choose 2-7 Attractions

Explore LA’s top attractions with the Los Angeles Explorer Pass and get up to 45% off compared to buying separate attraction tickets. Choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 activities from a list of over 30 attractions and tours. And with 60 days to use your pass, you'll have plenty of time to discover the City of Angels. You can go behind the scenes with a Warner Bros. Studios Hollywood tour, hop on and off a big bus tour around LA, take a selfie with your favorite celebrity at Madame Tussauds Hollywood, or go hiking in the Hollywood Hills. Your pass is fully digital. Simply print it at home or display it on your smartphone and show it at each attraction for free admission. You will also receive a digital guide to help plan your itinerary as you go. POPULAR ATTRACTIONS • Big Bus LA 1-day Classic Ticket • Warner Bros. Studio Tour • Madame Tussauds Hollywood • Big Bus Celebrity Lifestyle and Homes Tour • Hollywood Sign Tour • TCL Chinese Theatre - Tour or Movie and a drink TOURS AND CRUISES • Dolby Theatre Guided Tour - Home of the Academy Awards • Celebrity Bike Tour (Guided or Self-Guided) by Bikes & Hikes LA • Haunted Hollywood Walking Tour • Downtown LA Food and Culture Tour • Perry's Beach Café and Rentals - Mountain Bike or Roller-Skates (All Day) • Whale Watch (Long Beach) • Whale Watch (San Pedro) • Harbor Cruise (Long Beach) • Harbor Cruise (San Pedro) • SoFi Stadium Tour • Night Star Tour MUSEUMS AND LANDMARKS • California Science Center IMAX Movie • Aquarium of the Pacific • La Brea Tar Pits and Museum • Grammy Museum • Battleship IOWA Museum • LA Zoo • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles LEISURE AND ENTERTAINMENT • Yoga on the Beach - Huntington Beach • LA Galaxy Game Ticket • 2-hr Stand Up Paddle Board or Kayak Rental - Huntington Beach • $30 Credit at Sixty Four & Hope Please note attractions and tours are subject to change. Check your included digital guide for an up-to-date attraction line-up including opening times and instructions on how to access each attraction with your pass before you go.

Other Sightseeing Options in Santa Monica

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What people are saying about Santa Monica

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 1,891 reviews

Very well organised tour. There are 6 stops on the planned route. There is enough time to see the sites and get a taste of it. Joe was very knowledgeable about the locations and about the celebrities details. He was also very informative about the history of California and of Los Angels. The mini bus was comfortable, safe and ample inside. It was also luxurious when comparing to the open air options that we saw driving around. If you only have a short stay in L A then this is a recommended day trip

There is definitely value for your money here and we appreciated that we could prepay in CDN$ and we liked that there was a good clear website, guide and cancellation policies. You do have to do some pre planning and investigating to make the most of your pass but we never had any issues using the pass and enjoyed Aquarium of the Pacific, Harbour tour, Big Bus LA tour, Madame Tussauds, Walk of Fame, Mann Chinese Theatre, Universal Studios and Knotts Berry Farm.

Alaina was a very informative tour guide that made the experience enjoyable. She drive us to all the highlights efficiently and safely. She was always prompt with pick up times and conveyed instructions and city history regarding the points of interest.

Loved it! Great way to discover highlights around LA. The staff were friendly and helpful The bus drivers were not particularly personable but we really didn’t have to deal with them because it’s an audio tour

It was just fabulous! The pilot was so professional and great, thanks to him we had a full picture of LA, really unique experience I’ve recommend for everyone!!