There’s no denying it: Santa Monica has a lot to offer—decadent dining experiences, world-class shopping, the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The city is practically showing off. Another Santa Monica perk worth spotlighting: its parks. Santa Monica has some of the coolest, most beautiful parks in Los Angeles. Just in time for summer fun, below, we’ve rounded up three of Santa Monica’s best parks, perfect for spending time with friends family soaking up the sunshine and making memories.
Formerly an asphalt parking lot, Tongva Park in Downtown Santa Monica was a diamond in the rough. The 6-acre space was transformed a few years ago into a community-friendly oasis next to the glimmering Pacific Ocean. The park gets its name from the indigenous Tongva people who lived in the region and stands as a celebration of their rich culture and traditions. The park is divided into four sections, each designed with something to delight.
Discovery Hill on the southeast side features a children’s playground, shaded picnic areas, and a splash pad. Garden Hill features—you guessed it—beautiful gardens and walking paths to peruse. Gathering Hill has an amphitheater where free performances are held and features a public art piece by artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle called Weather Field. And lastly, find overlooks, shaded seating areas, and walking paths in Observation Hill.
Two words: Waterfront views. Whenever you’re in the mood to take in California’s beaches in all their glory and have some fun in the sun, Palisades Park is where you should go. The park’s palm tree-lined paths are as picturesque as it gets (think postcard quality), making it a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. The park, a Santa Monica landmark, spans 26.4 acres and features a beacon overlook, picnic areas, sculptures, a rose garden, a totem pole, and more. The park offers lots of space for socially distanced gatherings, a picnic lunch, or a breezy stroll. In addition to the ocean views, you’ll also enjoy awe-inspiring views of the Santa Monica Mountains.
After closing due to the pandemic, Santa Monica pier, also known as Pacific Park, is open again and ready for visitors with COVID 19-friendly protocols in place and limited access. There is so much to see and do here, and it feels good doing it knowing you’re supporting the local businesses. Spend time with family and friends riding the rides. Feeling adventurous? Sign up for trapeze school, which doubles as a good workout. Don’t forget to visit the pier’s hidden gem, Heal the Bay, a marine education center nestled underneath the historic carousel building. Rent bikes and go for a ride along the coastline.
If laid-back leisure activities are more your style, bring your fishing pole and fish at the pier. Or, feel like a kid again playing games inside the pier’s beloved arcade. Restaurants at Pacific Park offer outdoor dining and an array of food options such as seafood, classic pier bites, Mexican fare, burgers, and hot dogs topped with Japanese ingredients. No matter what activity you choose at Pacific Park, you’re in for a treat. Be sure to wear a face covering when you go.