Top 5 things to do in Santa Monica in 1 day

In June 2016 I spent 10 days exploring San Diego and L.A with my little brother (Eddie) at the end of his year studying film at San Diego State University. We aimed to get the most out of each day by taking in as much as we could of the culture, scenery and tourist hotspots.

  1. Travel by the Subway

By far one of the cheapest ways to travel around LA, the subway newest line the Metro Expo line allows you to take the train from the centre of L.A to Santa Monica. Along the way you zip past the vast suburban landscape travelling by housing complexes, industrial parks and business centres. You really do get a glimpse into the life blood of the city, the complex transport system, sprawling housing and clusters of shops.

+ A fantastic route to Santa Monica soaking up the L.A cityscape.

Do be prepared for a good hour and 30 mins of travel either way though as the train does have a lot of stops on the way, also worth noting that at peak times it can get very busy just like the London tube system and seats become rare.

  1. Santa Monica Pier

One of the world’s most famous piers, is a must to visit. You get amazing views of the sea, beaches and the backdrop of Parma trees. The ice cream is to die for, Eddie’s favourite was by far the blue cookie monster one! There’s also lot of performing artists, arguably some better than others. A full rollercoaster, ferries wheel and lots of smaller carnival stalls. We did get competitive on the retro arcade games, including getting too into air hockey which ended in hitting the puck flying across the room.

+ Lots to do and plenty of places to eat.

– Pavement to the pier gets very crowded at the top as it’s narrow.

  1. Bicycles

$7-$10 (depending on the vendor) gets you 60 minutes on your choice of bicycle, we went with the classic bike look. From the main pier it takes around 20-30mins to cycle to Venice beach. We made it there and back in the hour we went for. The takes a smooth journey along the winding path cutting through the beach, perfect for taking in the long sandy shore line, famous body building gyms and shady selling shake stores of the Venice strip.

+ Fantastic cycle route and inexpensive bike hire.

– Dodging people not on bikes!

  1. Shopping

The streets in parrell going back from the beach front are filled with high street and designer brand stores with an array of local stores too. Great for grabbing the latest fashion and the odd bargain (especially if Hollister have a sale on!)

+ Great range of shops

– As per any high streets lots of people selling charity memberships

  1. Venice Beach

Offering a different type of shops compared to the main shopping area, Venice beach offers alternative shops of the mainly weed branded products. Interesting and unique characters from all walks of life. Large open air Skate Park is worth a view.

+  Great comparison to main area

– keep your wits about you in regards to your wallet and valuables while wondering around.

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