Day Trips From Santa Monica

Day Trips From Santa Monica

  • Coletti Estates
  • 05/16/24

Santa Monica, known for its stunning coastline and vibrant atmosphere, serves as an excellent base for exploring the attractions of Southern California. Beyond its beaches and bustling streets lie numerous day trip opportunities catering to various interests. Whether you're seeking nature adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a change of scenery, this guide unveils the top day trips from Santa Monica.


A mere 30-minute drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Santa Monica brings you to Malibu, a coastal haven renowned for its pristine beaches. Start your day with a visit to Zuma Beach, known for its expansive sands and excellent surfing conditions. After soaking in the sun, explore the Getty Villa, an architectural masterpiece showcasing ancient Roman and Greek art. For lunch, indulge in fresh seafood at Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe while overlooking the sparkling Pacific.

Griffith Park and Observatory:

Venture inland towards Los Angeles to experience Griffith Park and Observatory, approximately a 30-minute drive from Santa Monica. This sprawling urban park offers an array of activities, from hiking scenic trails to visiting the iconic Griffith Observatory. Learn about the cosmos at the observatory's fascinating exhibits and catch breathtaking city skyline views. Don't miss hiking to the Hollywood Sign for a quintessential Los Angeles photo opportunity.

The Getty Center:

Immerse yourself in art and architecture at The Getty Center, about 30 minutes from Santa Monica in Brentwood. This cultural landmark houses an impressive collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts atop a hill. Explore the tranquil gardens and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Aside from parking fees, admission is free, making it an accessible and enriching day trip for art enthusiasts.

Channel Islands National Park:

Take a ferry from Ventura Harbor (approximately 1.5 hours from Santa Monica) to Channel Islands National Park for a truly unique adventure. This protected marine sanctuary comprises five rugged islands teeming with wildlife and unspoiled landscapes. Spend the day hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Depending on the season, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, and migrating whales.

Disneyland Resort:

Travel east to Anaheim, just over an hour's drive from Santa Monica, to experience the magic of Disneyland Resort. Whether you're young or young at heart, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park promise a day filled with enchantment and nostalgia. Meet beloved Disney characters, enjoy thrilling rides, and immerse yourself in the whimsical atmosphere of this iconic theme park.


Embark on a scenic drive approximately 2 hours from Santa Monica to reach Solvang, a charming Danish-inspired village in the Santa Ynez Valley. Wander through streets lined with traditional Danish architecture, bakeries, and boutique shops. Indulge in authentic Danish pastries and explore nearby vineyards for wine tasting—a delightful escape into a different world without leaving Southern California.

Joshua Tree National Park:

For those craving desert landscapes and unique rock formations, head east towards Joshua Tree National Park, roughly a 2.5-hour drive from Santa Monica. This captivating park straddles the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, offering surreal landscapes dotted with Joshua trees and boulder formations. Spend the day hiking, rock climbing, or stargazing amidst this otherworldly terrain.

Santa Barbara:

Just over an hour's drive north of Santa Monica lies Santa Barbara, a coastal city steeped in Spanish colonial heritage. Stroll along State Street to discover charming boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. Visit the historic Santa Barbara Mission, known as the "Queen of the Missions," and relax on the picturesque beaches. Don't miss sampling local wines at nearby vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Catalina Island:

Escape to Catalina Island with a scenic ferry ride from Long Beach (approximately 1.5 hours from Santa Monica). This idyllic island offers a range of activities, from snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to exploring the quaint town of Avalon. Rent a golf cart to tour the island's rugged interior or unwind on the pristine Descanso Beach. Catalina Island is a peaceful retreat for those seeking a slower pace and coastal charm.

Temecula Wine Country:

Escape to Temecula Wine Country, located approximately 2 hours southeast of Santa Monica. This picturesque region is renowned for its vineyards and wineries, offering a delightful day trip for wine enthusiasts. Take a leisurely wine tour to sample award-winning wines and learn about the winemaking process. Many wineries also feature stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys, making it a perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon.

Palm Springs:

For a change of scenery, head east to Palm Springs, approximately 2 hours from Santa Monica. This desert oasis is famous for its mid-century modern architecture, upscale resorts, and outdoor recreation. Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley. Explore the art galleries and boutiques of Palm Canyon Drive, or unwind in a luxurious spa. Palm Springs is a captivating destination offering a unique desert experience within easy reach of Santa Monica.

Explore Your Dream Home Along the Southern California Coast

Santa Monica serves as an ideal launchpad for exploring the landscapes and attractions of Southern California. From coastal gems like Malibu and Catalina Island to cultural hubs like Griffith Park and The Getty Center, these day trips offer unforgettable experiences within a short distance. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, art aficionado, or adventure seeker, the day trips from Santa Monica promise to enrich your visit with memorable discoveries and captivating scenery.

Ready to turn your day trip destination into your permanent residence? Whether you're captivated by the coastal charm of Santa Monica, the vineyard vistas of Temecula, or the desert oasis of Palm Springs, contact Coletti Estates today and make your Southern California dreams a reality.

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Her high energy, determination, and hard work are just a few qualities one can expect when working with her. Also, her strong negotiation skills and a keen understanding of the ever-changing real estate market lead her to be one of the top agents in the local industry.

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