After you’ve spent some quality time in Malibu, explore what else Southern California has to offer. One of the most famous coastal towns, Santa Monica is a beachfront city in Los Angeles with a laid-back vibe. Just 20 minutes from Malibu Beach Inn, Santa Monica is the perfect place for a day trip to shop, eat, and beach.

From the Santa Monica Pier to the beach, there’s no better way to enjoy the city than by spending time underneath the towering palms. But beyond its nature, there’s plenty to experience. Here are the best ways to make the most out of a day trip to Santa Monica.

Daybreak Delights

Brunch at 1212 Santa Monica.
Photo credit: Brunch at 1212 Santa Monica.

As the city wakes up, stroll along famed streets, like Ocean Avenue, Main Street, or Third Street Promenade. It’s not difficult to find coffee or a healthy breakfast in Santa Monica. The city is full of smoothie and açai bowl shops and vegan breakfast restaurants galore. In fact, the delicious breakfast options here will fuel you up for the adventures ahead.

You can’t go wrong with Blueys Market and Cafe, an Australian cafe run by a team of females. The beach-inspired restaurant celebrates all the things that Australia and California share: a love of the beach, surfing, and great food. There is an ever-evolving seasonal (and healthy) menu of nourishing meals, coffee, and pastries.

For those looking for yummy pastries, breads, and doughnuts, Breadblok is the place to go. Organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, gum-free, and refined sugar-free, you can rest assured that you’re enjoying the highest-quality ingredients. The bakery has a chic atmosphere for you to enjoy every last bite.

If you’re on a quest for the quintessential west coast brunch experience, visit 1212 Santa Monica on the bustling 3rd Street Promenade. The fun vibe and DJ make this beautiful space feel like a party, not to mention a delicious food and cocktail menu. You might find yourself coming back for dinner and drinks, as the party keeps going into the evening.


Nothing screams Santa Monica living without a little retail therapy at the many boutiques, thrift stores, and home decor shops. Third Street Promenade has national stores, name-brand clothing, and trendy boutiques in downtown Santa Monica. It’s a great place to people watch, and there are always street performers putting on a show. For more designer, name-brand shops, head to Santa Monica Place, a three-level open-air shopping center with Tiffany & Co., Nike, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, and more.

Just nearby, The Westside is a California-inspired boutique that offers a curated collection of women’s clothing, swimwear, accessories, and select home decor. It also has a children’s store component, Everafter, for a range of girls’ and boys’ clothing and accessories. It’s the perfect place to pick up your perfect Californian gift. If it’s non-toxic beauty and wellness products you’re after, The Detox Market is a famed clean beauty shop. Their clean cosmetics, skincare, hair and body products will ensure you’re living your best life. They can help you choose which products are best for your individual skin type and provide recommendations for your lifestyle.

Beach Bum

Santa Monica Pier

When in Rome they say do as the Romans do, well in Santa Monica they play on the beach. With salt in the air and warm sun on your nose it only makes sense to dip your toes in the warm sand and refreshing waves of the Pacific Ocean. The main beach, Santa Monica State Beach, is free and stretches for more than three miles. Managed by the City of Santa Monica in cooperation with California State Parks, the beach has so much to offer for everyone. It’s great for laying out, swimming, or visiting the famous Santa Monica Pier, the West Coast’s only amusement park on a pier. It gets busy, but is well worth a visit, especially with kids. The pier has a merry-go-round, arcade, trapeze school, aquarium, street performers, fishing, kites, and more. Don’t forget your beach essentials to make the most out of your time here!

Delicious Lunch

Lunch at Benny's Tacos in Santa Monica
Photo credit: Benny’s Tacos on Wilshire Boulevard, CA.

After a busy morning in the sun, stop for an indulgent lunch. There are several wonderful dining options, both sit-down or more casual. Benny’s Tacos is a local favorite, located on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Santa Monica. There are also several taco truck options along Ocean Boulevard and near the beach. For yummy farm-to-table dining, head to Belcampo, a restaurant and butcher shop selling grass-fed, pasture-raised meats from their regenerative farms. They have a selection of seasonal local vegetables and sustainably caught fish from local fishermen. Now that is something to enjoy and feel good about.

Happy Hour

Santa Monica hosts an abundance of fabulous happy hours to be found on every corner. One being Santa Monica Brew Works, which is the city’s first and only brewery that makes California-inspired beers for beach lovers. Enjoy a selection of IPAs, Pilsner, and Porter. There are also various food trucks each day so you can enjoy a beer outside and some grub. For an elevated experience and a view over the beach, head to 1 Pico, the main restaurant at the iconic hotel Shutters on the Beach. Serving coastal California cuisine, 1 Pico offers both indoor and outdoor dining and has a delicious menu of bites, like blue crab tartine and heirloom tomato focaccia, and both a regular and non-alcoholic cocktail menu that delights. We recommend coming for sunset cocktails and staying for dinner under the stars.


Round off your time in Santa Monica with a yummy dinner. Élephante Beach House is a buzzy oceanside rooftop restaurant. It’s a place to see and be seen with delicious coastal Californian fare, like wonderful seafood and Italian-inspired dishes. Another local favorite is Tallula’s, a Mexican restaurant serving nachos, enchiladas, warm bowls, fresh seafood, tacos, and more. It’s part of the Rustic Canyon Family, a restaurant group that has several other renowned restaurants, like Rustic Canyon, Cassia, and more. If you’re looking for an intimate setting, The Misfit Restaurant and Bar is another popular spot to enjoy creative food and delicious cocktails in a hip, sophisticated, dare we say sexy, gastropub setting. It’s located in Downtown Santa Monica in the iconic Clock Tower and has an all-day menu that satiates.

Cocktails at Elephante in Santa Monica
Photo credit: Elephante Beach House in Santa Monica, CA.

Allow Malibu Beach Inn’s reception team to help you book transportation to and from Santa Monica, manage restaurant reservations, and more.