Santa Monica Hidden Gems: Escape the Crowds and Relax

When people think of Santa Monica, they often recall Santa Monica Pier, where iconic Route 66 meets the Pacific Ocean, and Muscle Beach, where body builders tone their physiques. However, just a few blocks away from these beaches, vacationers will discover much more. A treasure trove of Santa Monica hidden gems await and offer a break from large crowds. Here are our favorites:

Santa Monica Hidden Gems: Lesser-known Attractions

Shopping and Entertainment: Third Street Promenade

Lesser known than Santa Monica’s historic pier, Third Street Promenade offers all the fun of the pier in a comfortable, upscale setting. Blocked to car traffic, the three-block promenade features charming street performers, an eclectic mix of specialty shops and boutiques, restaurants, movie theaters, and plenty of people watching options. In addition, live music, singers and dancers turn the promenade into an impromptu street party every Saturday.

For a guided experience, book a Santa Monica walking tour to learn about the area, see Third Street and enjoy the sunshine.

Nature: Palisades Park

Need a break from the busy beaches? Take a stroll through beautiful Palisades Park. Accessible from both the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Beach, the park features an oasis perched along the top of a cliff that offers views of the Santa Monica Mountains and Southern California coastline.

The park measures over 26 acres and welcomes visitors to its picnic areas, rose garden, kiosk and benches. Or walk the paths, see public art and snap lots of photos to remember the trip.

Local Products: Santa Monica Farmers Market

Every Sunday, the Santa Monica Farmers Market opens on Main Street. Find locally grown fruits and veggies, as well as locally made artisan products. Plan to have breakfast and lunch, with all items made from California-grown ingredients. For families, see live performers and cooking demonstrations, and don’t forget to let kids have their faces painted. Visitors should also bring some cash and plan to buy goodies to take home.

Late Night: Swingers on Broadway

For an edgy Santa Monica dining experience, head to Swingers on Broadway. This chic family-friendly diner features dancing waiters, Andy Warhol cows, rock music and is best known for its all-night breakfast. From vegan and veggie to all-American chow, the menu features dozens of items. Swingers also draws a diverse crowd, including local celebrities.

Need more ideas? Check out more things to do in Santa Monica.