Updated for 2022
Families will find so many things to do with kids in Santa Monica that they will most likely find themselves planning multiple days to explore this popular city.
This city on the edge of the Pacific Ocean has so much to offer, including one of the most iconic symbols of Los Angeles — the Santa Monica Pier.
Fun Things to do in Santa Monica with Kids
2439 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA
Kids will find plenty to keep themselves happy and entertained at this park. Douglas Park features a fly fishing area, picnic tables, tennis courts, reflecting pools, a playground, and a splash pad. Have kids take a look and see how many different types of animals they can find in this small-ish park.
Santa Monica State Beach
1550 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
No trip to Santa Monica would be complete without spending time at the beach. Santa Monica State Beach is 3-miles long. Families can spend time in the sand, splash in the ocean, and go for a bike ride along the adjacent bike path. (The bike path is 5.2 miles long and extends from Will Rogers State Beach to Venice Beach). Food and beverages are available for purchase from concession stand on the beach.
380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
At Pacific Park, you’ll find an amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. Families can spend the day playing games and enjoying the rides (including the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel).
Santa Monica Pier
Ocean and Colorado, Santa Monica, CA
There’s more to do on Santa Monica Pier than having fun at Pacific Park. The historic Carousel, special seasonal activities, souvenir stands, and an arcade will also be found. You can participate in a free historical walking tour or try something really new at Trapeze School. If you’re hungry, the Pier also has a variety of restaurants and concession stands. And don’t forget to look for the sign designating the Santa Monica Pier as the official western end of Route 66.
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Heal the Bay Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Located on the beach, right under the Carousel on the Pier, you’ll find the Heal the Bay Aquarium. On exhibit are more than 100 species of marine animals, all of which are found in Santa Monica Bay. In addition, different events are held each day the Aquarium is open. Check the website for a schedule. Kids 12 and under are free; adults and children 13 and older are $10 each. (The Aquarium is closed Mondays).
3rd Street Promenade
Downtown Santa Monica
This outdoor shopping area is a popular tourist destination. Closed to vehicles, you’ll be able to leisurely stroll while you take in all the sights and sounds. You’ll find big-name stores as well as independent retail shops. A variety of restaurants, movie theaters, and street performers are on the Promenade as well.
Santa Monica Place
395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401
There’s lots to see and do at this open-air shopping center. Families will find the Disney Store, Gymboree, Nike, The Cheesecake Factory, Johnny Rockets, and more. Santa Monica Place is located adjacent to the 3rd Street Promenade so it’s easy to continue your shopping experience from one location to another.
Related: A Day of DIY in Santa Monica
Museum of Flying
3100 Airport Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90405
For aviation enthusiasts, a visit to the Museum of Flying is a must-do. Families will find artifacts from the Douglas Aircraft Company, aviation-related art, a replica of the Wright Flyer, a flight simulator, and more. There is also an interactive center for children. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult admission is $10, children 3-12 are $6, and children 2 and under are free.
Santa Monica Public Library
(Main Branch – 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401 and
Branches on Montana Ave., Ocean Park Blvd., Main Street, and Pico Blvd).
You’ll find plenty of family-friendly resources available at the Santa Monica Public Library. Different library branches offer different programs, but recent programs include story times, an interactive program with ceramics, and a puppet show. In addition, there are special programs designed for teens. The Santa Monica Library is also sponsoring a summer reading program — with variations for children of different ages. The Main Branch also houses the Bookmark Cafe which offers breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, beverages, and a special kid’s menu.
1615 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401
6-acre Tongva Park was once an asphalt parking lot. Now, families will find a pleasant park divided into four sections — Observation Hill, Discovery Hill, Garden Hill, and Gathering Hill. In the Discovery Hill section, families will find a children’s play area and shaded picnic areas. Gathering Hills is the site of a grassy amphitheater where the city hosts a variety of free performances. The name, Tongva Park, honors the indigenous Tongva people who once lived in the region for thousands of years.
Downtown (Arizona Ave. between 4th and Ocean), and
Virginia Ave. Park (2200 Virginia Ave.), and
Main Street (2640 Main St.)
There are 3 different Farmers’ Markets held in different locations in Santa Monica. At each location though, you’ll find a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, plants and flowers, and much more. The Downtown Market is held on Wednesdays from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. The Virginia Avenue Market is held on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, and the Main Street Farmers Market is on Sundays from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. The Main Street location is kid-friendly, with live musical performances and face painting.
Santa Monica History Museum
1350 7th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Exhibits at the Santa Monica History Museum are designed to give visitors a sense of Santa Monica’s history. There are interactive exhibits, rare artifacts on display, and more. In addition, on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, the Museum hosts “Hands-on History” — a program for families. Each workshop is designed for children 5-11 years of age and includes a history lesson in the gallery followed by a related craft activity. (RSVPs are requested for the “Hands on History” activities). The Museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Adult admission is $10, and children under 12 are free.
North Beach Playground
810 Pacific Coast Hwy, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Santa Monica’s newest playground has parking, bathrooms, swings slide,s and a lot of space to play. It has two separate play areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-8 year olds. “Sensory play elements such as touching, feeling, and hearing are utilized as well as swings, slides, and climbing equipment to inspire activity, mobility, and imagination in all children.”
Related: Things to do in Malibu with Kids
Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90402
Located at Santa Monica State Beach, the Annenberg Community Beach House is a 5-acre property. The Beach House does not require membership and offers a splash pad, children’s play area, and pool. Information on admission fees and pool hours are available online, but keep in mind that Mondays (except for July 4 and September 5) are $1 Splash Mondays (admission is only $1 per person). A small cafe is located on-site as well. The Annenberg also hosts a variety of classes and community activities throughout the year.
John Drescher Planetarium at Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
The Planetarium at Santa Monica College is open to the public every Friday evening. This computerized planetarium theater will make you think you’re flying beyond the solar system! “The Night Sky Show” is at 7:00 pm and the “Feature Show” is at 8:00 pm. The Feature Show often includes guest lectures and the opportunity to look through telescopes. Planetarium shows are not recommended for children under 6 years of age. Check the website for information about upcoming shows and ticket prices.
Santa Monica Playhouse
1211 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401
The Santa Monica Playhouse is a not-for-profit theatre. Bring the family for an opportunity to see theatrical productions. Family-friendly performances include Snow White, Alice and the Wonderful Tea Party, and Absolutely Halloween. Many of the shows are interactive and encourage audience participation. Check the website for a description of each show and the dates and times of performances. The Santa Monica Playhouse also hosts a variety of workshops (for kids and adults)
1453 14th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404
PAINT: LAB is a walk-in art studio offering workshops and the opportunity just to come in and paint and create. Ongoing drop-off art workshops for kids (ages 6-12) are offered through September. Workshop sessions are also offered on weekends, and families have the convenience of selecting single-day sessions or full-week sessions. And on Sundays, the whole family (up to 4 members for a flat fee) can come and enjoy some fun and painting time. Check the website for information on fees and schedules.
2600 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
This popular park has many family-friendly facilities on its 17.9 acres. You’ll find picnic tables, a baseball diamond, 2 soccer fields, tennis courts, 2 softball fields, playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and a fitness course.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).