Santa Monica has a laid-back luxury vibe that makes it perfect for families. Cool kids can hit the beach and the pier, or simply decide to explore by bike.
Santa Monica has a laid-back luxury vibe that makes it perfect for families. Cool kids can hit the beach and the pier, or simply decide to explore by bike. Join Sigourney Cantelo as she explores the top 9 places in Santa Monica for kids.
I’ve always loved Santa Monica. It’s kind of like Hollywood’s cool, beachy cousin and is the perfect chilled antidote to LA’s frenetic pace. Unlike its more adult big sister LA, Santa Monica is heaven for kids. With hordes of young families around, a laid-back beach lifestyle and gorgeous weather, SaMo is the perfect pint-sized pit stop. After doing the 14-hour flight from Sydney with my son Max and all his threeyear- old histrionics, I was seriously ready to relax.
We booked into Hotel Casa del Mar, a grand hotel that occupies a stately position right on the beach. The rooms are an ode to classic American beachside chic in muted seafoam and silver, decorated with giant coral and seashells. There’s a gorgeous carved four-poster bed and giant arched windows that frame views over the expansive Santa Monica shoreline. It’s been a few years since that first trip with Max (less histrionics these days) and now there are even more fab things aimed at youngsters. Here’s a round-up of the latest mini must-dos.
1. Santa Monica Pier
This iconic fun park has been entertaining families for more than a hundred years and it’s still every bit as exciting. There’s the classic carousel ride and retro carnival games, while the more daring might hop aboard the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel or enrol in a trapeze class. Make a day of it and add some marine education into your tour of the pier. Right next door is the Heal The Bay Aquarium, which aims to protect the animals that call the bay home and boasts over 100 local species of marine life, daily educational activities and hands-on exhibits.
2. Bike bliss
If it’s sand and surf you’re craving, one of the best ways to see the beach is from the Santa Monica Bike Path. Pick up some wheels from any of the four Perry’s Cafe and Rentals along the 13.7-kilometre-long bike path and cycle as far as Muscle or Venice Beach to take in some of the truly colourful sites.
3. Lazy Sunday
On Sunday mornings, take a trip to Main Street Farmers Market. While you pick up some beautiful seasonal produce, amuse the littlies with a petting zoo, balloon magician, face painting and pony rides.
4. Culture kids
Educate the kids about theatre and book some tickets for a stage production at the Santa Monica Playhouse. The all-ages theatre features a range of family-appropriate shows throughout the year such as Snow White and Cinderella. Or enjoy some openair theatre by way of the talented buskers on Third Street Promenade – impressive dancing and music are always a great side dish to a little retail therapy. It’s worth checking out the classic toy store Puzzle Zoo while you are there.
5. Baby boogies
Monica + Andy is a baby and toddler concept store that offers very cool events with a decidedly Cali-flavour such as Story Time with Terry, a reading session with classic children books for ages zero to seven, and Lovebug & Me Music, which introduces little ones to melodies, rhythms and dances from cultures around the globe.
6. Wi-Fi with child care
Need to catch up on some emails or work calls? Drop into Big And Tiny – a stunningly designed co-working space with on-site child care. Genius when you’re trying to work and travel at the same time.
7. Mini pilots
Give your kids a lesson in aeronautics and they can even have a go at piloting a plane at the Museum of Flying – there’s an interactive gallery that’s plenty of fun. Or travel into the galaxy at the John Drescher Planetarium at Santa Monica College. Every Friday night there is a family-friendly show that uses digital technology to fly viewers beyond the solar system or into the heart of an atom..
8. Ice-cream dreams
No beachside memory is complete without ice-cream … my pick is Sweet Rose Creamery. Think homemade yumminess in small batches with loads of dairy-free options and delicious flavours like salted caramel, summer corn, caffe latte chip, stone fruit and blueberry muffin.
9. Alfresco eats
An outdoor dining experience that won’t have you cringing and apologising for your kids? Head down to Santa Monica Pier on a Tuesday night from 5pm to sample some of the best food trucks in the region – watch the @SMFoodtrucklot Twitter account for updates. Another retail haunt that caters well for children is Santa Monica Place, which offers great restaurants on the rooftop and an impressive play structure for kids to climb on called Samo the Whale.
This article originally appeared in Five Star Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.
Planning a holiday to Santa Monica? You can read our complete family-friendly travel guide to the California here