Top tips for a perfect day in Santa Monica Pier & Venice Beach, California
Updated: Aug 26
There is magic all around us, but to find true magic, take a walk down a beautiful beach, let the ocean touch your feet, and take you back in time. Look up at the cotton filled sky, try and find some funnily shaped clouds. Take off your shoes, and feel the crunch of the sand under your feet. Sit down on the warm sand and just watch the waves. The sun shining somewhere up above, and the wind messing up your hair is telling you, that today you can relax, appreciate the beauty, and the magic in this moment here in time. There will be a tomorrow for all your worries to take you over.
Santa Monica Pier
How to get to Santa Monica Pier
A short metro ride away from the bustling city of Los Angeles is the little beach town of Santa Monica. If you are taking the metro, you arrive at Downtown Santa Monica, a stone’s throw away from the famous Santa Monica Pier and Beach.
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3 Must do things at Santa Monica Pier
Pop down to the pier every Sat & Sun to take a FREE historical walking tour around the pier to hear some great stories of how the Pier came in to being. The tours are at 11.00 & 12.00, and should last about an hour. Be prepared to hear some really interesting trivia, like, ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ the hit cartoon from back in the day, ( I loved Popeye and Olive Oyl) was inspired by a sailor named Olaf C Olsen from Santa Monica!
Whenever I hear Eddie Cantor’s words, ‘He floats through the air with the greatest of ease, this daring young man on the flying trapeze’, I am transported back to the time when I used to get excited by the Circus and magic. If you are like me, you will feel the adrenaline rush when you have the opportunity to change an ordinary day at the beach to something extraordinary- take a trapeze class! Well, don’t be too much like me, I was all excitement and no courage, I chickened out in the end, but it would have been a fun experience to try! (https://losangeles.trapezeschool.com/ )
The arcade, amusement park, and restaurants at the Pier make for a great day out for you and your family. Children playing with their beach toys, swimmers, sunbathers, and people watchers dot the Santa Monica beach. While the Pier above is understandably the better vantage point for people watching, and taking in the views of the perfect turquoise water, it also boasts of an array of artists, caricaturists, and most importantly for me, musicians and singers!
I don’t know what it is about great music and the ocean, the unbeatable, heady mix of a great band with the turquoise waves hitting the shore in all its white frothy goodness puts me into a trance that I cant get out of. Clara Stegall was the singer who kept me transfixed, staring into the ocean, and wondering ‘Why doesn’t this girl have a record deal already!’
My Herschel Backpack accompanied me all through my travels in the USA. I had a few people ask me about the backpack, so I'm leaving a link to it here!
The bag is functional & light, perfect for my travels! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see it.
4 top recommendations for a perfect day at Venice Beach
Ride a cycle from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach. I love the hippie happy vibe of the world famous Venice Beach! The best way to get to Venice Beach from Santa Monica Pier is to rent a cycle from the many shops in Downtown Santa Monica.There are shops to rent skateboards and rollerblades as well. There is a paved bike path alongside the beach that takes you all the way from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach. It is a beautiful 20-30 minute ride depending on your speed. If you are not in the mood to ride, rollerblade or skateboard there, or, you can take a bus from downtown Santa Monica.
Stop and spot the performers The beautiful ocean views, the wind in my face and hair, the sun shining down on me, the boardwalk bustling with shoppers and vendors selling their wares, the attention craving performers, and people just having the best time, were all emblematic of the quintessential ‘Venice Beach day to ride a cycle. As you ride across the beach, don’t forget to stop along the way to watch some stunts and muscle flexing by the super fit people on Muscle Beach. (Watching them workout is workout enough for me!)
Check out the bustling boardwalk The boardwalk bustling with vendors selling original artwork, jewellery and other trinkets, clothes, tellers selling their version of your fortune, and lots more is worth stopping for.
Try your hand at graffiti on the Venice Art Walls You have to stop at the Venice Art Walls to just marvel at the beautiful murals, and more exciting if you are a graffiti artist with your paint handy- you can add to the murals! The Venice Art Walls are located at 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice CA 90291, they are open to artists to let their creativity run loose on weekends on a first come first serve basis, so get there bright and early!
Do check out my guide to the Most Instagrammed walls in Los Angeles!
I get asked about my sunglasses a lot-though I couldn't find the exact pair, I have linked a similar pair of sunglasses here!
What to expect at Venice Canals
The picturesque little area of Venice Canals originally built back in 1905 to be the ‘Venice of America’ by Abbot Kinney was renovated and reopened in 1993. The Venice Canals are a complete 360 from the vibe and look of Venice Beach just a stone’s throw away. The canals are beautifully maintained and the charming houses with gardens full of succulent plants on either side remind you of a quaint European town, albeit not Venice in Italy. I had to walk my cycle through the tiny lanes as there was barely enough space for two people to walk. The calm water, and serene neighborhood is almost relaxing after a tiring day of touring Venice Beach, which is a feast for your senses at every turn. The whimsical sight of a flock of ducks zig-zagging beneath the adorable white bridges over the canals is nothing short of a scene from a Disney movie. (I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw Snow White, with her seven little friends in tow, break into song on the bridge right at that moment!) It’s always good to wish for that little bit of stardust to be sprinkled on you- everyone needs another excuse to smile!
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