Santa Monica is one of the most popular and vibrant cities in Los Angeles County, with plenty of destinations well suited for all ages. When you’re planning your next family vacation, take a look at this list of the best places to bring the kids in Santa Monica.

The Santa Monica Pier

The most iconic sight in town, the Santa Monica Pier is the ideal place to bring your kids in town. A long dock that juts out into the Pacific Ocean carries a wonderland outfitted with a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and a number of carnival vendors. Come here, play some games, and catch a free concert in the summer. (Learn more about it on our blog post about the Santa Monica pier here!)

Santa Monica State Beach

Next to the pier, a sprawling beach runs the shoreline of Santa Monica and it’s one of the best beaches in Los Angeles. Come here and lay out in the sun with locals, walk over to one of the  boardwalk restaurants for a burger, and then strike up a game of pick-up volleyball with the kids.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

Santa Monica is well outfitted with family friendly restaurants where you can take the whole family for a meal at any time of day. Among our favorites is Ingo’s Tasty Diner, where parents can sip on hearty bloody marys while the kids indulge in diner classics like pancakes and waffles. Another favorite of ours is Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern with traditional eats that kids love including burgers and mac and cheese.

Santa Monica State Beach

Fly a kite, sign up for a surf lesson, or let the kids entertain themselves building sandcastles while you park yourself on the beach with a good book. There’s no better way to entertain the little ones than with an enormous sandbox.

Picnic on the Promenade

Every Friday in July and August, start off the weekend with a picnic lunch on Downtown Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. Picnic on the Promenade provides board games, along with classic activities like ping-pong, giant Jenga and Connect 4, while a DJ sets the musical mood. Stop by any of the nearby restaurants for grab-and-go lunch and enjoy!

Soda Jerks

Located inside the carousel building on Santa Monica Pier, Soda Jerks is an old-fashioned soda fountain serving sundaes, shakes, malts, and ice cream sodas. Each sundae is named after a different Santa Monica landmark– we recommend sharing the Route 66 Banana Split. Soda Jerks:

Pacific Park

At Pacific Park, you’ll find an amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. Spend the day as a family, playing games and enjoying the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel.

Main Street Farmer’s Market

Spend your Sunday morning picking up local produce, eating sweet crepes or breakfast burritos and rocking out to live music. Your kids will adore the petting zoo, balloon animals, face painting and pony rides.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Animal habitats, dinosaurs, and the new “Nature Lab” recreating Southern California urban wildlife are some of the most popular exhibits at the Natural History Museum. Don’t forget to stop by everyone’s favorite Butterfly Pavilion. Here, hundreds of free-flying butterflies flutter around a collection of native plants, while museum experts hang around to answer all of your most pressing butterfly questions. Natural History Museum: 900 Exposition Blvd.; 213-763-3466

Ocean View Park

Ocean View Park is a waterfront hangout with a number of attractions to keep the kids active and engaged. When you come to this park in Santa Monica, you can play paddle tennis or regular tennis, as well as basketball. There’s also a grassy lawn looking out over the water, so you can relax while the little ones run wild.

The Ambrose Hotel

When you go through the list, it’s clear that The Ambrose Hotel is among the best family-friendly hotels in Santa Monica. Our residential-style guestrooms are designed in an updated California-craftsman style, which helps everyone in the family feel at home. Our central Santa Monica location also gives kids easy access to a world of activities beyond.

Discover More of Santa Monica

Experience the best of Santa Monica. Check out The Ambrose blog for our insider guide to the SoCal getaway.