Heading to Southern California this summer? Then no trip to the golden coast is complete without a visit to one of America's most popular tourist destinations, that being Santa Monica. Forget the hustle and bustle of LA and hit this beautiful stretch of sandy beach the true gem of SoCal - and all in just under eight miles from LAX airport.


Finding something to do in this seaside town isn't hard. It's the ideal playground for kids big and small. With a long list of family-friendly activities to do, we've rounded up ten firm family favourites and places to eat in Santa Monica that no family should miss.

1) Monkey around at the Trapeze School

Set on Santa Monica Pier, adventure-seeking kids from aged six can swing and soar through the sky on a two-hour Flying Trapeze class or a one-hour Aerial Silks class.

More information: Trapeze School New York

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Family Fun in Santa Monica - what not to miss!
Santa Monica Pier (Photographer Joacim Lloyd-Raboff)

2) Ride on the Ferris wheel

The Worlds’ only solar-powered Ferris wheel, a spin 130ft high on the iconic Pacific Wheel ride above Santa Monica’s pier is a must for kids big and small. Beautiful during the day and mesmerizing at night with more than 174,000 energy efficient LED lights flashing in dynamic displays

More Information: PacPark

3) Cool down with an ice-cream

There’s no shortage of places to grab an ice-cream in Santa Monica, but Rori’s artisanal Creamery on Montana Avenue is a firm family-favourite. With seasonal flavours including Mary Ellen’s pumpkin pie and New Hampshire maple pecan it’s a must-visit for families.

More information: Rori's Artisanal Creamery

4) Visit the Aquarium

Little ones can get up close and personal to an array of sea creatures at the Heal the Bay Aquarium, from seahorses, sharks and red octopus, there’s over 100 local species on exhibit. It’s the perfect spot to learn about the Pacific’s underwater world.

More Information: Heal The Bay Aquarium

Family Fun in Santa Monica - what not to miss!
Cayton Children’s Museum

5) Get creative at the new Cayton Children’s Museum

Opened in June 2019 in Santa Monica Place, Downtown Santa Monica, the Cayton Children’s Museum offers expansive discovery-based exhibits with a calendar of arts and cultural programming, with an art studio and workshop rooms designed to inspire children.

More Information: Cayton Children’s Museum

Family Fun in Santa Monica - what not to miss!
Tongva Park

6) Splash around in Tongva Park

A six-acre urban oasis, Tongva Park is just steps from the beach. Kids will love the splash pad, climbing structures and slides, while grown-ups can admire the plant-filled gardens and topography.

More Information: Tongva Park

Family Fun in Santa Monica - what not to miss!

7) Hit up the Annenberg Community Beach House

Set right on the sandy shores, the Beach House is open to all and is home to a pool, playground, splash pad, volleyball courts and a gallery. It’s the perfect spot to spend a sunny day in Santa Monica.

More Information: Annenberg Community Beach House

8) Grab a burger at Back on the Beach Café

Set next to the Annenberg Community Beach House, Back on the Beach Café is the perfect child-friendly restaurant to fill hungry tummies at any time of the day. With a playground attached, you can enjoy a variety of delicious items such as breakfast burritos, buttermilk pancakes and burgers, with your toes in the sand and the sea as your view.

More Information: Back of the Beach Cafe

9) Check out some aircraft

Plane-spotters both young and old can get their fix at The Museum of Flying, a hidden gem set close to Santa Monica airport. With a display of aircraft there’s also a Maxflight full-motion simulator to enjoy along a flight on.

More Information: Museum of Flying

10) Enjoy a family brunch

Featuring fun, over-the-top family-friendly brunch, Bru’s Wiffle on Wilshire Blvd serves eight types of chicken and waffles as well as sweet options with cinnamon, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate. There’s also the option of a Waco – a waffle taco with all the trimmings.

More Information: Brus Wiffle

>> Junior Recommends

Somewhere to stay: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is a great base for families, with connecting rooms, one-bed suites with sofas, an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi and 24-hour room service with children’s menu. Rooms from $449/ £355 per night including breakfast. More information:Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

Family Fun in Santa Monica - what not to miss!
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

With thanks to Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT), formerly Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For travel and accommodation information, a free copy of the official Visitors Guide or information on how to contact them by post or phone.


For more information on Santa Monica, visit www.santamonica.com