Attractions Nearby Santa Monica, Day Trips and Excursions

(Santa Monica, California - CA, USA)

Known to many as the 'City of Angels', Los Angeles comprises many interesting attractions and districts, which are almost like towns in their own right and just a short drive to the east, west or south of Santa Monica. Many districts of Los Angeles are famed for their beaches and exceptional surfing attractions, and for being home to a huge collection of movie stars.

Close to Santa Monica and perfect for day trips is the affluent neighborhood of Beverly Hills, the movie capital of Hollywood, the very scenic Pacific Palisades, and the glorious beaches of both Malibu and Venice. Santa Monica is also within reach of the attractions of Culver City, Marina del Rey and Pasadena.

Beverly Hills

Tourists looking to learn more about LA life may like to consider a tour of the wealthy suburb of Beverly Hills, where many celebrities have huge, glitzy mansions. Beverly Hills simply exudes opulence around almost every street corner, with a selection of its grandest residences residing on the tree-lined avenues to the north of Sunset Boulevard. The commercial heart of Beverly Hills is to be found within the Golden Triangle, being bordered by the Rexford Drive, the Santa Monica Boulevard and the Wilshire Boulevard. For a spot of retail therapy, the plentiful fashion boutiques along Rodeo Drive are almost legendary.

Culver City

Situated on the western side of Los Angeles County and east of Santa Monica, Culver City has been a significant city in the world of movies and television production for almost 100 years. Formerly home of MGM Studios, Culver City currently features the headquarters of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Those with an interest in movie stars of the past may like to check out the 1924 Culver Hotel, which was once owned by John Wayne and has housed many famous movie stars over the years, such as Buster Keaton, Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan.


In particular, Hollywood is another much-visited part of Los Angeles, with its iconic Hollywood sign being greatly photographed. Hollywood is just a relatively short drive to the northeast of Santa Monica and is certainly a place that never sleeps. With attractions such as the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Paramount Studios and the Universal Studios, this exciting spot embraces its rich movie heritage at every opportunity.


The beach resort of Malibu boasts a stunning stretch of Pacific coastline, which is just over 20 miles / 32 km in length. Malibu is approximately 22 miles / 35 km to the west of Santa Monica and has become nothing short of a celebrity enclave, with A-listers choosing to buy houses here in their droves, including both Barbra Streisand and Tom Hanks, amongst countless others. The Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Surfrider Beach are some of the main attractions here, along with the Westward Beach, Zuma Beach and the springtime Malibu Film Festival.

Marina del Rey

A charming seaside resort with a large expanse of beachfront, Marina del Rey contains one of the world's biggest man-made marinas, which is always filled with expensive yachts and boats. The Marina del Rey area is an appealing place to hang out, with plenty of restaurants to choose from. Attractions in Marina del Rey include the waterfront Fisherman's Village and lighthouse, the Burton Chace Park and the Villa Marina Marketplace.

Pacific Palisades

A further district of Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades stands close to Brentwood (east), Malibu (west) and Santa Monica (southeast). With a population of just under 30,000 people, Pacific Palisades offers some tranquil attractions, including the Rustic Canyon Park, the Temescal Canyon Park and the Will Rogers State Historic Park. Interestingly, the Palisades Charter High School has made an appearance in many Hollywood blockbuster movies, such as the 2003 Disney remake of Freaky Friday (starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan), as well as epic televisions series, including the Rockford Files in the 1970s, and more recently Baywatch, which was filmed on location at the Will Rogers State Beach at Pacific Palisades.


Pasadena is an especially leafy city and is located within Los Angeles County, where it is famed for hosting the Rose Bowl football game each year at the beginning of January, on New Year's Day, when the Tournament of Roses Parade is also staged. Old Pasadena is where you will find some of the most historic attractions in the city and stretches for around 20 blocks, with good shopping and entertainment options clustered here. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum on the West Colorado Boulevard, where an extensive collection of European art works await.


Venice boasts many beachfront attractions, such as the Ocean Front Walk, the Venice Fishing Pier, Muscle Beach and the Venice Breakwater, which resides on the southerly side of the Santa Monica Pier and is famous for its surfing. This part of Los Angeles is also known for its eclectic nightlife and is home to endless nightspots, bars and restaurants, which come alive as the sun begins to set. Downtown Venice is based around Main Street, Abbot Kinney and the Grand Boulevard.