Between pool dips and cocktail sips, history buffs will find lots to love in storied Santa Monica. With so many ways to peer back in time, it’s easy to spend a day discovering and touring your way around iconic landmarks, Art Deco architecture, and fascinating museums in the heart of our seaside city.
Up for a morning stroll? Take a coffee to-go from our lobby and head for Santa Monica State Beach, stopping at the storied Original Muscle Beach— a fitness hotspot with a richer history than you might imagine. In the late 1930s, people would gather here to watch acrobats, gymnasts, wrestlers, and performers while they shot impressive stunts for Depression-era films.
Make another stop on your stroll, this time at an iconic sign on the Santa Monica Pier that marks the end of one of the most famous roadways in the United States, Route 66. Commissioned in 1926, this legendary Chicago to Los Angeles highway connected hundreds of small towns, provided a trucking route through the Southwest, and now exists as a symbol of the evolution of road transportation in the United States.
Continue your historical walk through Santa Monica with something a little more structured. Sign up for an architecture, history, and culture-focused walking tour with the Santa Monica Conservatory, covering six city blocks. In just two hours, you’ll learn about the start of the modern movie industry, visit the Art Deco-style Georgian Hotel and how it attracted Hollywood celebrities with its speakeasy, and see where Jim Morrison played his first show.
If you’re ready for a break from the sun, pay a visit to the Santa Monica History Museum. Home to six permanent galleries, one rotating exhibition, and a research library, it’s a place to dig deeper into the history of Los Angeles’ indigenous Tongva people, Santa Monica’s contributions to American cultural life, and more.
After a day of living in the past, savor the present and dine somewhere with a story. Established in 1934, The Galley is Santa Monica’s oldest restaurant, featuring a wide-ranging menu of classics and cocktails and boasting a distinctly nautical theme with a warm, candle-lit ambiance. The Misfit Bar & Restaurant, one of Santa Monica Boulevard’s most famous restaurants, is nestled on the bottom floor of the city’s iconic Art Deco Clock Tower Building, dating back to 1929. And for a nightcap, Chez Jay is a long-time Santa Monica institution, once frequented by Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Munroe, and other luminaries.