Santa Monica is by far one of my favorite cities to visit. You have the beach right there, great restaurants, you can walk everywhere, and there is a ton to do! We just returned from a quick trip to the West Coast and spent two full days in Santa Monica with our almost 5 year old. While it can be a far trip from Boston, our daughter had an absolute blast and kept on telling me that she wants to move to California! While I am sure there are pages of things to do in the city, these were our favorite.
5 Things to Do in Santa Monica with Kids…
1. Rent Bikes
While our daughter is not yet riding a bike on her own yet, she loved sitting in the trailer hitched onto my husbands bike. We rented bikes from one of the million places right in Santa Monica and rode up and down the beach. Most places allow you to rent for either one or two hours and after that charge you the day rate. The day rate is probably worth it for most as it is actually not that much more expensive then the two hour rate. Keep in mind though that not all places rent trailers or baby seats, specifically the ones on the beach – go to the stores if you need to rent one of those.
Santa Monica is super bike friendly and there is a nice path along the beach. You’ll pass by many playgrounds where you can easily lock up your bikes. Most bike rental companies also give you a lock for no additional charge. You can also bike around 3rd Street Promenade or to any other destination within Santa Monica (or even neighboring beaches). Biking around Santa Monica was definitely one of the highlights of our trip as it allowed us to check out various beaches while also enjoying the fresh air!
2. Visit the Santa Monica Pier
The pier is extremely overrun by tourists, but if you can get there first thing in the morning you can still get some peace and quite. While there are a bunch of vendors on the pier selling things from their kiosk, you’ll also hear music and see some street performers. On the pier you can visit the Pacific Park (ferris wheel, roller coasters, etc.), the carousel, the aquarium, attend trapeze school, and play arcade games. There is a ton to do on the pier, or you can just head over there for a nice stroll and some people watching!
3. Go to Tongva Park
Tongva Park is tucked away where you probably wouldn’t pass by it unless you were specifically looking for it. It is on the other side of the beach (to the right if you are on the pier and your back is facing the water). There is an awesome splash pad so make sure to bring your bathing suit! Although the weather was hot during the day, the ocean was freezing, so this was a great place to cool down and our daughter had a fun time running through the water. You might even want to bring a bucket to catch the water as that turned out to be a highlight as well. In addition to the splash pad there was also some pretty gardens.
4. Hit the Beach!
You cannot go to Santa Monica and not go to the beach. The entire city sits along the Pacific which is awesome. We spent a few hours at the beach making sand castles and dipping our toes in the water. The water was cold in April! You can literally set up shop anywhere, but the further away you go from the pier the less crowded it gets. On a nice day you’ll also find vendors selling beach umbrellas, sand toys, snacks, and water at the beach.
5. Visit One of the Many Playgrounds
The entire beach is filled with playgrounds. It is a kids haven! You won’t have to walk far and chances are you’ll come across some playground for your kids age! During our bike ride we passed by a ton of playgrounds so you can also hit up multiple ones as they all seem to offer something different!
If you are looking for a kid friendly place to visit, I highly recommend Santa Monica! We found two days there to be the perfect amount of time, but I am sure we could have kept ourselves busy even longer if we had more days! And if you have a car, there is a ton of more kid friendly parks, activities, and museums a short (by LA standards) drive away!