Although there is a ton to do and lots to eat in Santa Monica, there may be a point when you decide you want to get out and stretch your legs a bit. Although the city is great and the pier and beaches are wonderful places to spend some time, there is so much going on even away that you would be remiss to stay put and not do some exploring.
Luckily, there are lots of areas to explore that are quirky, quiet, and even breathtaking. You can hit some of these areas in less than a day so they make the perfect day trip while still staying in one of the Santa Monica hotels. In this article, we will go over the top places to see outside the city.
1 – Santa Catalina
Just an hour off the coast by ferry is Santa Catalina Island. In one hour you can be in another world that is more reminiscent of some Mediterranean coastal village than it does a part of California.
The town itself is very relaxing and laid back and just walking the sun-kissed streets is a good way to pass the time. There is also Avalon beach on the island that has snow-white sand and feels more like a Caribbean escape than anywhere else in California.
You can get out on the water on a glass bottom boat to see the coral reefs or even go for a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to get up close.
Of course, there is also the Catalina Wine Mixer so try to time it for that!
2 – Channel Islands National Park
The ferry can also take you to other islands in the archipelago that also contains Santa Catalina, but that island is not part of the National Park. These islands are far more rugged and natural than Santa Catalina as a result.
Not only are these islands a National Park, but they are also a UNESCO World Heritage unique biosphere reserve. There is fantastic snorkeling and diving around the islands and if you time it right you can even check out some migrating whales.
3 – Angeles National Forest
If mountains are more your thing or you have had enough of the ocean, then a trip north will bring you away from the urban sprawl and into the hills of the Angeles National Forest.
It’s a wild reserve so you can find yourself in a different world surrounded by the flora and fauna of the Southern California forest. There you can do some hiking or mountain biking and still be back to the city in time for dinner.
4 – Venice Beach
One of the quirkiest places in North America, Venice beach is defined by its long boardwalk along the beach. Populated by some real characters, you are sure to experience something much different than your ordinary routine. The entire area is vibrant with murals and lots of decorated buildings with lots of places to stop for a bite.