Santa Monica is located right on the coast in Los Angeles, home to the famed Santa Monica pier and boardwalk that stars the picturesque ferris wheel at Pacific Park you’ve seen in many an Instagram post. It’s only eight miles from LAX and features dining, nightlife, shopping, and—obviously—the beach, making it a great stay in its own right or a perfect home base for your L.A. vacation. See below for our guide to an ideal weekend stay in Santa Monica.
Where to Stay:
The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is the destination to stay in Santa Monica as the property offers a mix of rooms and accommodations to fit any type of getaway, including 32 bungalows that feature private patios and oceanfront style. The hotel also boasts its own little set of stores, including a Glam&Go Salon, Lloyd’s Barbershop, and Exhale Mind Body Spa. Sit out by the pool or grab a drink in the lobby before continuing on outside to enjoy the area.
Where to Eat:
If you’re staying at the Fairmont Miramar, and even if you’re not, FIG Restaurant is a must-try in the area. Featuring an outdoor patio and bar, the spot is delicious and hosts a spirited happy hour from 5 – 6 p.m. every night. They also have their very own cheese guy, or fromager, who is on-site every Tuesday through Sunday to guide you through your best cheese picks for that plate you’ve been waiting all day for.
Other must-try spots in the area include Tar & Roses for a special night out, Sonoma Wine Garden for a boozy brunch or dinner with friends, and Blue Plate Taco for, you guessed it, great tacos and cocktails. For drinks, The Bungalow (which is connected to the Fairmont, though operates a bit independently) is a scene, albeit a pretty lively one, and somewhere you’ll want to arrive early in order to avoid the line. Basement Tavern at The Victorian is a cocktail joint in a historic house that serves amazing cocktails and usually has live jazz. The Misfit is a go-to if you’re looking for tasty beer, a craft cocktail and decadent chocolate chip cookies. Truly a trifecta of goodness.
What to Do:
If you’ve never been to Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier is a must, though go early to enjoy a little less of a crowd. Stroll along the boardwalk, see some sea creatures at the award-winning aquarium, or just lounge by the beach. Take a walk to Muscle Beach to check out the beachfront gym that’s been a local landmark since the 1930s. Finally, head over to Bergamot Station, an old train station that features 35 galleries, to admire the art and do some shopping in the plethora of stores all around the city.