How to Make the Most of 36 Hours in Santa Monica

Santa Monica, California, is a vibrant coastal city with a multitude of activities and attractions to enjoy in a limited timeframe. If you find yourself with just 36 hours to explore this beautiful destination, fear not! We’ve got a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your time. From sun-soaked beaches to trendy boutiques and delicious dining options, Santa Monica has something for everyone. So, let’s dive right into the top 10 things to do in Santa Monica in just 36 hours.

1. Arrival and Accommodation

Start your adventure by arriving in Santa Monica. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the closest major airport, and you can easily access Santa Monica via taxi, rideshare, or a shuttle service. For the best experience, consider staying in one of the charming beachfront hotels or cozy Airbnb rentals.

2. Day 1: Morning

a. Santa Monica Pier (9:00 AM)

Begin your exploration at the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy a leisurely walk, take in the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and perhaps ride the historic Ferris wheel at Pacific Park. Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the famous “End of the Trail” Route 66 sign.

b. Original Muscle Beach (10:30 AM)

Just a short walk south of the pier, you’ll find Original Muscle Beach. Watch fitness enthusiasts show off their acrobatic skills on the rings, or try a workout yourself. It’s a great place to soak up some California sun.

3. Day 1: Afternoon

a. Lunch at the Promenade (12:00 PM)

Head to the Third Street Promenade, a bustling outdoor shopping and dining area. You’ll find a wide array of restaurants offering delicious cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, tacos, or a gourmet salad, there’s something for everyone.

b. Santa Monica State Beach (2:00 PM)

After lunch, it’s time to relax at Santa Monica State Beach. Rent a bike, take a swim, or simply sunbathe on the sandy shores. The beach offers endless opportunities for fun and relaxation.

4. Day 1: Evening

a. Santa Monica Place (5:00 PM)

As the sun begins to set, make your way to Santa Monica Place, an upscale shopping center near the Promenade. You can shop for designer brands or simply enjoy the stunning architecture and art installations.

b. Dinner at The Lobster (7:30 PM)

Treat yourself to a seafood feast at The Lobster, which offers fantastic oceanfront views. Don’t forget to savor the signature lobster bisque or a classic California roll.

5. Day 2: Morning

a. Breakfast at Back on the Beach Cafe (9:00 AM)

Start your second day in Santa Monica with a scrumptious breakfast at Back on the Beach Cafe. This beachfront café offers a variety of breakfast options to kickstart your day.

b. Santa Monica Mountains (10:30 AM)

For a change of scenery, head to the Santa Monica Mountains. Take a hike in Topanga State Park or explore Will Rogers State Historic Park, both of which offer beautiful trails and panoramic views.

6. Day 2: Afternoon

a. Getty Villa (1:00 PM)

After your outdoor adventure, visit the Getty Villa, a magnificent museum dedicated to art and culture. The villa’s architecture and stunning gardens are as impressive as the art collection itself.

b. Abbot Kinney Boulevard (3:30 PM)

Wander down to Venice and explore Abbot Kinney Boulevard, known for its unique shops and trendy boutiques. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs or discover one-of-a-kind items.

7. Day 2: Evening

a. Venice Beach Boardwalk (5:30 PM)

Spend your evening at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. It’s a lively, eclectic area with street performers, vendors, and an exciting atmosphere. Don’t forget to catch the sunset over the Pacific.

b. Dinner at Gjelina (8:00 PM)

Head back to Santa Monica and dine at Gjelina, an upscale restaurant offering a delectable selection of shared plates. The wood-fired pizzas and seasonal dishes are a must-try.

8. Day 2: Nightlife

a. Nightlife Options (10:00 PM)

Santa Monica has a thriving nightlife scene. Depending on your preference, you can choose from cozy wine bars, live music venues, or beachfront bars. The Bungalow and Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub are popular choices.

9. Day 3: Departure

After a memorable night out, spend your last morning in Santa Monica with a relaxed breakfast at one of the local cafes. Stroll along the beach one last time, and maybe even dip your toes in the ocean. If you have time, visit the Santa Monica Farmers Market, which typically runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

How to Make the Most of 36 Hours in Santa Monica
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