Santa Monica, California is famous for its beach, walkability, nearly year-round sunshine, and its proximity to other transactions in Los Angeles. More than 7 million people visit Santa Monica each year. It is easy to get around on foot or by bicycle in Santa Monica, allowing you to explore the city’s famous attractions, shops, restaurants, and spas. If you are planning to visit Santa Monica, here is some information about how to stay safe and some of the attractions you should not miss.
Is Santa Monica Dangerous?
There are other cities and areas of Los Angeles that have much higher crime rates than Santa Monica. However, the city’s property crimes and violent crimes rates are higher than in California in general. Most of the violent crimes in Los Angeles are more common in South Central LA than in Santa Monica. Property crimes, including pickpocketing and other types of theft, are something that you might need to watch for in touristy areas.
In Santa Monica, tourists generally do not need to fear becoming victims of violent crimes during their visits. According to Santa Monica car accident attorney Steven Sweat, “the worse that you might expect to happen is being the victim of petty theft, a tourist scam, or a motor vehicle accident.” If you head to one of the major attractions like Santa Monica Pier, the crowds there provide an opportunity for pickpockets to grab phones and wallets. Make sure to avoid keeping your phone or wallet in your back pocket. If someone offers to take you on a private tour, you should instead choose a reputable, well-known tour company to prevent problems.
If you will be driving your own vehicle or a rental car while visiting Santa Monica, you should try to avoid driving on the highways or other streets during rush hour between 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Car accidents frequently occur during rush hour traffic in and around Santa Monica.
Is it Safe to Visit Santa Monica Alone?
As a part of the Los Angeles area, Santa Monica is a very busy city at all hours of the day. If you are planning a solo trip to Santa Monica, you will be perfectly fine if you stick to public places. Santa Monica is filled with other tourists, so you can easily meet others with whom you can see the sites. You should also take simple precautions such as avoiding walking down alleys or drinking too heavily at bars.
If you are a female traveler who will be traveling alone, you should also avoid using public transportation during the night. Be cautious when using an Uber or Lyft. Make sure that the driver’s photo on the app matches the person who arrives to pick you up, and check the license plate on the back of the vehicle. Sit in the back seat so that you have an easy way to exit if needed. Do not provide personal information about yourself to the driver. If you feel unsafe at any time, ask to be dropped off and get out of the car. Make sure that someone you trust knows when you get into an Uber and where you are going, and what time you should be expected.
Is Santa Monica Safe for LGBTQ+ or BIPOC Tourists?
Santa Monica is very LGBTQ+ friendly. The city boasts numerous LGBTQ-friendly bars and restaurants, and LGBTQ+ people regularly gather on Santa Monica Beach near lifeguard station 26. As long as you take basic safety precautions that any tourist should take, you should be safe during your visit to Santa Monica.
Similarly, Santa Monica and Los Angeles are very diverse with people who identify as members of many different ethnic and racial groups. While racism can happen anywhere, including in Santa Monica, you should not expect to experience discrimination during your visit. If you are the victim of a hate crime, however, you should promptly report it to the Santa Monica Police Department.
Safety Tips for Your Visit to Santa Monica
As a tourist visiting Santa Monica, make sure to follow these safety tips to avoid problems and to enjoy your experience:
- Do not carry much cash. You can use your credit card to pay for nearly anything, and ATMs are located everywhere.
- Keep your wallet, backpack, or purse secured and closed, or keep your belongings in a money belt or strapped across your body.
- If a small group bumps into you, check your pockets because they might be pickpockets.
- Don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair in restaurants or it might be snatched.
- If you are approached by a homeless person, walk away if he or she becomes hostile.
- Call someone you trust before you get into an Uber or Lyft and tell them where you are going and when you’ll arrive. Make sure to check the ride-share driver’s photograph and license plate number before getting into the vehicle.
- Avoid driving during rush hour. If you drive at other times, make sure to follow all traffic laws, and familiarize yourself with your route before you start driving.
Not-to-Miss Places in Santa Monica
Now that you understand how to stay safe when visiting Santa Monica, here are some of the places you should make sure to see during your visit.
- Santa Monica Pier and Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Pier is among the most famous landmarks along the California coast and has appeared in multiple movies. The Santa Monica Pier is filled with fun things to do, including the Playland Arcade, the famous Ferris wheel and roller coaster at Pacific Park, and the Heal the Bay Aquarium. Santa Monica Beach offers more than three miles of beautiful sand and is a great place to surf, swim, people-watch, and take in breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
- Palisades Park
Palisades Park is within a short walking distance from Santa Monica Beach and is bounded by the Pacific Coast Highway. This park offers stunning vistas of the ocean and is an ideal place to take photographs to remember your trip. It is also a good place to get away from the crowds and have some time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Third Street Promenade
If you love to shop and enjoy going to boutiques and unique shops, you should definitely plan to include a visit to the Third Street Promenade during your stay in Santa Monica. This outdoor mall includes plenty of major shops side-by-side with unique stores and has an eclectic feel that matches the city’s vibe. Vehicle traffic cannot drive through the promenade, allowing you to feel safe to enjoy strolling from store to store.
- Looff Hippodrome
A historic landmark built in 1916, the Looff Hippodrome has been restored to its former glory. It includes a carousel at its center and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
- Santa Monica Farmers Market
The Santa Monica Farmers Market is open year-round on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays regardless of the weather. You can find a wide range of locally produced cheese, fruits, nuts, freshly caught fish, and much more. Many of the stalls also offer freshly prepared dishes, allowing you to sample great, fresh food.
- Annenberg Community Beach House
The Annenberg Community Beach House is adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier and was built in 1922. It was originally a private mansion owned by Marion Davies but is now owned by the state and is open to the public. At the Annenberg Community Beach House, you’ll find a swimming pool, splash pad, and playgrounds for plenty of beachside entertainment.
- Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area
If you enjoy jaw-dropping scenery, hiking, and trails, you should definitely visit the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. You can go horseback riding, mountain biking, and rock climbing. You can also enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains plummeting to the ocean below or surf on the ocean below the mountains.
- Bergamot Station Arts Center
Admission to the Bergamot Station Arts Center is free, and it is filled with rotating exhibits of contemporary and classical works of art by artists from around the world. It was originally a train station and was converted into an arts center by the City of Santa Monica.
Visiting Santa Monica can be both fun and safe. The city offers numerous attractions to explore and boasts one of the best beaches along the California coastline. As long as you take safety precautions, you can see the sites without worrying about your safety. You’ll find plenty of exciting scenery and fun things to do during your stay and have the opportunity to get plenty of sunlight and time at the beach.