Visiting Santa Monica, CA. with kids

If you still haven’t been to Santa Monica Pier, Beach, Downtown, or Pacific Park, this blog post is for you. 

Santa Monica, Ca. is the beach place for couples, families with toddlers, kids, teenagers, and even for traveling alone. It is not only SUPER SAFE, but fun, romantic, and has the best street entertainment. It is a MUST VISIT.

If you are planning to go, we got you covered with some essential tips, not just the “don’t forget the sunscreen”(btw don’t forget it), but many other tips so you can have the best day trip.

We have learned these tips on our multiple trips to Santa Monica when we were dating and now visiting as parents. We love it there, I mean, I think if we could have a place there (Goals) I wouldn’t mind moving in an hour. Yes we Love Santa Monica.

Hope with these essentials, you can get the most out of your visit to Santa Monica:

Here they are:

1. Hit the road early

We are about 40 minutes from Santa Monica. However, on weekends we try to leave two hours before we plan to be there because of impromptu stops for food, drinks, or ice. That is to say,  traffic and finding parking can also take a lot of time.

2. FOOD (Budget trip)

Since this is a budget trip hack, we recommend prepping food the night before. Pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks for your day. Make an agenda to plan stops along the way to buy food. There are plenty of fast food options not far off the route.

Backpacks and stroller with all our lunches.
Backpacks and stroller with all our lunches.
However, if carrying around lunches or snacks isn’t your style, on the Santa Monica Pier you can find a variety of restaurants for every kind of budget. You can have a slice of pizza, funnel cake, or if you can spare a couple extra bucks for a lobster plate at Bubba Gump’s that would be a great call. Not just super close to the beach, the best feature about this place is it being part of the movie Forrest Gump. Remember, he ended his run on the Santa Monica Pier. At this restaurant, you won’t just get delicious food but a lot of fun facts about the movie.


Certainly the earlier you get there, the closer the parking spot you will find. Along the Pier, the parking is $10 and you are right by the water. Arriving later means more cars and more demand so you may pay higher prices at some of the nearby lots.

Parking in downtown

Another great option. For us this the best because we like to walk around the Third Street Promenade on weekends. The parking around there is cheaper, usually about $6.


Sand, Fun, Sea, Sun…

Why do I love Santa Monica Beach? It is a perfect place to take in some sun or play in the sand.

Don’t forget to bring towels, sand toys, water, snacks, drinks (no glass containers), trash bags, and like I say Sunscreen.

Don’t forget to bring towels, sand toys, water, snacks, drinks (no glass containers), trash bags, and like I say Sunscreen.

If you are a tourist, and you don’t want to spend to much in something that over pack your luggage, an inexpensive option is to head to Dollar Tree or the 99 cent only store.

Enter these stores on your Waze or Google Maps apps and stop to get some cheap beach essentials.

Another option is buying some things there at the beach. There are merchants on the beach who sell a variety of items. And if you are going to leave the toys after the beach trip, remember to stop at a GOOD WILL and donate them.

Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier 

Our beach trip always ends up there. One of the best features of Santa Monica is that they have an amazing Pier with variety of restaurants, attractions, and of course, the Pacific Park.

The Pacific Park is an admission-free amusement park. Rides and attractions are priced individually and range in price from $5-10.

One Day Guide to Visiting Santa Monica.
One Day Guide to Visiting Santa Monica.

You can purchase tickets at the ticket booth for individual rides or Unlimited Ride Wristbands. Just click here

12 rides to go on all day. Not bad for an AMAZING  DAY AT THE BEACH.


When walking back to our car we always stop to enjoy an ice cream and walk around to enjoy the street shows.

There is music, dancing, food markets,  and a variety of entertainment in a fantastic and musical downtown setting to make the last minutes of your trip a memorable one.

You can eat at all kind of restaurants in Downtown too.

And while your are enjoying your food at an outside table, who knows… maybe you will spot a Movie or TV Star.

For more Socal and Los Angeles Family Adventures tips in a budget, you can follow me in Instagram, CLICK HERE where we share how we make a fun experience every weekend with just a couple dollars!

Hope your enjoy your day trip to Santa Monica.

Let us know what was your favorite place or activity.

One Day Guide to Visiting Santa Monica.

Hola! I'm Nerys, a dual-language lifestyle blogger, sharing moments with the hope they can inspire happiness and empathy.

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