Santa Monica

Laid back Santa Monica is perhaps best loved for its pristine beaches and a pier (with amusement park) that locals take advantage of as much as tourists do. Residents tend toward the affluent — to be sure, not every beach town boasts a Wolfgang Puck restaurant — but with art walks on the pier, street music and a farmers market bursting with organic bounty, your vacation won’t break the bank.

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You almost can’t get a bad weather week in Santa Monica, but peak travel season is May to August. The season slows down a little from September to November, so you’ll get better rates. Cool season is December to April (daytime temps in the mid-60s), so prices drop the most and you’ll still only need a light jacket at night


Visas: Travelers from outside the United States need a valid passport, as well as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) eligibility or a full visa.
Money: Currency is in U.S. dollars, and ATMs are available blocks from the beach.
Travel Health: Travelers (including U.S. citizens) should check for vaccinationproof of negative COVID-19 test and face mask requirements, as well as any travel restrictions, before planning their trip. Masks are required on public transportation in Santa Monica. Before traveling, research and prepare for what to do if you get sick while away. Get updated guidance on health and safety from the California Travel Guidelines website.


Getting Here: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is just 10 miles from Santa Monica, but depending on SoCal (Southern California) traffic, it can be a long haul.
Getting Around: Rides from LAX includes buses, taxis and rideshares. The Big Blue Bus System offers public transport to and through Santa Monica; fare is contactless. There are multiple options for bike-share rentals, and a beachside bike cruise (with occasional celebrity spotting) is the ideal mode of transportation.


Local Lingo: SoCal beach slang has changed since “Valley girl” days, but waves are still gnarly, excited surfers are stoked and interstates go by “the” and their numbers — like “the 10″ — as immortalized on the “Saturday Night Live” skit, “the Californians.”
Must-Have Apps: City of Santa MonicaLyft Bikes
Insider Tip: Santa Monica has been eco-minded for decades, and its pier boasts the only solar-powered Ferris wheel in the world. Be selfie ready; there’s an Instagram-worthy stretch of golden beaches that make for a perfect backdrop for photos from the top of the wheel.