There are so many fun things to do in Venice Beach and Santa Monica. This post and podcast episode focuses on all of the different activities you can do to spend an entire day in this area. I spoke with Erin from TheSoCalGal about places like the Venice Canals and Tongva Park. If possible I would recommend taking the metro so you don’t have to worry about parking but if that isn’t something you’re interested in I would recommend walking or taking a scooter to as many places as possible to limit your parking expenses.

You can listen to us talk about things to do in Venice & Santa Monica with Erin from TheSoCalGal on the newest episode of the LA Dreaming Podcast. You can listen to the podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, or Podbean.

things to do in venice beach and santa monica

Venice Canals

venice canals

The Venice Canals are one of the most popular spots to check out in this area. Abbot Kinney dug several miles of canals in 1905 to help bring a taste of Europe to America. You can walk on sidewalks admiring the homes and see the beautiful canals. There are a few bridges in the canals which make for gorgeous photos. If you’ve seen the Garry Marshall movie Valentine’s Day, the Venice canals are where Ashton Kutcher’s character lives. If you love the Valentine’s Day movie be sure to check out this guide to the filming locations.

You’ll see a sign for the entrance at 25th Avenue. Be sure to look for street parking near this area.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

The boardwalk is a one-mile street market that showcases how unique this spot is. Some of the highlights of this area are muscle beach, the skate park, the bike path, and the shops.

Rainbow Lifeguard Tower


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There are now at least three rainbow lifeguard towers in the LA area. The Venice rainbow lifeguard tower is the first one that I knew of. You can now find one in Alamitos Bay in Long Beach and near the Manhattan Beach pier.

998 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Venice Beach Sign

venice sign

The Venice sign changes a few times a year for some holidays. It is one of the most iconic photo spots in this area.

Pacific Ave & Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291

Mosaic Tile House

The Mosaic Tile House is one of the most unique homes in the Los Angeles area. The entire exterior has been covered in mosaic tiles. You can visit the home on Saturdays from 12 pm to 3 pm. Reservations only. Email for reservations. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65+, and children 12 and under are free.

1116 Palms Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Abbot Kinney Blvd

venice wall art

Abbot Kinney Blvd feels like the heart and soul of Venice Beach. This mile-long road is filled with shops, places to eat, and some of the best street art in LA. You can check out this post on Instagram Spots in Venice Beach.

Butchers Daughter is one of the places to eat that Erin recommended.

Hotel Erwin

The rooftop of Hotel Erwin makes for the best ocean views of this area. I would recommend getting a reservation as it sounds like it can be difficult to get in without one.

1697 Pacific Ave Venice, CA 90291

Parking Suggestions for a visit to Santa Monica

Structures 7 and 8 of Santa Monica Place offer free parking for 90 minutes. It is $2.00 for the next hour. After that, it is $2-$3 per hour. I would only park here if you will be in the area for less than three hours. 

You can also find discounted parking at the Civic Center or the Main Library. On weekdays, the first thirty minutes are free. The next hour is fifty cents and then it is $1-$2 for each additional thirty minutes. The weekday maximum is $14. On weekends the daily maximum is $5. 

Library Parking 601 Santa Monica Blvd

Civic Center Parking 330 Olympic Drive

Tongva Park

tongva park
Tongva Park is a 6.2-acre park in Santa Monica. There is a popular photo op in the park shown above. For kids, there is a splash pad and slides which makes for the perfect spot for them to run around and have some fun. You can find more than 30,000 plants in the park.

1615 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

The Georgian

the georgian hotel

This stunning hotel has been known as Santa Monica’s First Lady since 1933. Even just walking by this beautiful building is worth the walk. Luckily, it isn’t too far from the pier and other areas of interest.

3rd Street Promenade

3rd Street Promenade is a shopping experience with a variety of stores. You’ll also find cute photo ops and so many places to eat.

Santa Monica Pier

santa monica pier

Even though this is an incredibly touristy spot I will forever love the Santa Monica Pier. I think it is a must-do when you are in the Los Angeles area. Whether you go on any rides or not, we highly recommend the ferris wheel, this is still such a fun place to visit. The views are so great, they often have a lot of fun events going on, cute photo spots & more. You can find the end of Route 66 on the pier. If you want to go on some rides you can get a good deal to enjoy the pier & so many other fun attractions in LA with the Go City LA pass.



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Jonah’s is a newer place to eat in Santa Monica that has amazing vibes. The back area is so dreamy. This is further inland from all the other spots we’ve listed so far but might be the perfect choice for you depending on how you want to end your evening. Close by Jonah’s is an Anthony Bourdain mural.

2518 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403


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Mural Address: Chelsea Ave & Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica

Sidecar Doughnuts

sidecar doughnuts

Sidecar Doughnuts is one of the most popular doughnut spots in the Los Angeles area. They have unique flavors like huckleberry and a bacon doughnut, though they do rotate flavors so you’ll have to check their site or app to see what they currently have. I do recommend ordering ahead as the lines can get long during the morning hours. Want a free doughnut? Download their app & sign up for their rewards program. You’re meant to get a free one for downloading the app & then on your birthday. I had to reach out to them when it didn’t give me either freebie. Interested in other birthday freebies in LA? Check out this post here.

Father’s Office

I have not tried Father’s Office myself yet but I have always heard great things about it. So this might be another great option for you for dinner.

1018 Montana Ave

About The Author

Michelle Ares is the founder and creative director of LA Dreaming. I have a passion for Southern California and love sharing my adventures and experiences with you. I love to travel, find new places to check out, and watch movies. You can follow me on Instagram @la.dreaming

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