For stunning views of the ocean and Santa Monica Mountains, this bluff-top park along Santa Monica’s northern coast is the spot. It’s the classic image of L.A.’s coastline that lives in most people’s heads. You’ll find thicker crowds of tourists in the section by the Santa Monica Pier, so instead keep toward the northern Pacific Palisades-adjacent end, past the stately concrete sculpture at Wilshire and the colorful totem pole at San Vicente.
Surrounded by mountains on one side and the beach on another, the urban sprawl of Los Angeles seems to melt away as soon as you hit Santa Monica. This beachside city has a charm all of its own and is the essence of that classic postcard picture of Southern California—yes, including traffic. But we’re not here to complain about the 10 or PCH. Instead, we’re here to help you fill that coveted, less-trafficked window between morning rush hour and happy hour with a trip to Santa Monica’s most essential attractions.
RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best things to do in Santa Monica.