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Santa Monica is the quintessential Southern California beach town.
Even people from Los Angeles get away to this charming community on the water.
It’s a beach lovers’ paradise with an air of sophistication around every corner.
This walkable (or bikeable) city provides everything you need to relax, dine, and window shop the day away.
You’ve probably seen the Santa Monica beachside bike path in one of your favorite movies.
The must-see Santa Monica Pier offers an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity with bars, restaurants, an amusement park, and sunset views that will take your breath away.
U.S. News and World Report rank this city in the top 10 Best Places to Visit in California and its clear tourists feel the same, with 8 million people on average visiting each year.
Warnings & Dangers in Santa Monica
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk overall in Santa Monica, simply due to the lure of tourists, which can make easy targets for crooks. The crime numbers overall are lower than the California average.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The city of Santa Monica strongly encourages visitors to ditch the car and use other transportation options. Given the variety and oversight of the various modes of transportation, we're giving it a low risk. You can choose from electric scooters, rideshares, the Big Blue Bus catering just to the Santa Monica area, golf-cart rides through Circuit, and a Metro rail stop from Los Angeles.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
A medium pickpocket risk exists in Santa Monta because people tend to come here with lots of money and are ready to spend it. Especially at the shopping Mecca on Third Street Promenade, it's important to keep an eye on your belongings. Give it a grade (Low, Medium, or High) based on your findings and write 40-70 words.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
The very day this article was written, Santa Monica was hit by a magnitude 2.8 earthquake. So there's a medium risk of some kind of seismic activity, but if you are a Southern California native reading this, you might laugh saying "That's just a way of life here." The San Andreas fault is the biggest earth-shaker, but there is a Santa Monica fault line as well. Wildfires can impact air quality here as well. The average thunderstorm or rainy day? Those are few and far between. On average you'll get mild weather, and the only downside is in June when there's a lot of smog and gloom over the picturesque community.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The medium risk from pickpocketing carries over into the mugging category. Santa Monica police encourage visitors to store their wallets inside a jacket or shirt and also keep purses under a firm grip close to the body.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The Los Angeles Metro area is known to be a potential target for terrorists, but there's no impending doom lurking over the city. Nevertheless, we'll give it a medium risk. Santa Monica Police encourage everyone to "See something, say something" when it comes to anything that seems odd.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Santa Monica Police say a con game can happen to anyone, anywhere, but elderly people are especially vulnerable. There's a medium risk this could happen in such a busy area. Police recommend never giving out personal information or taking out cash to help someone, no matter how honest they seem.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women have a medium risk for all the reasons we've listed above. You can lower that risk by following basic common sense— be aware of your surroundings when walking through new areas, be confident in your attitude when walking, and stay near areas where there are businesses or other people. There are a lot of panhandlers in the Santa Monica area, and you can just ignore them and keep walking.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Santa Monica has a low risk in its tap water. The latest water report shows no violations and that the water meets or exceeds regulations. The city does advise people to use tap water sparingly to help with the drought.
Safest Places to Visit in Santa Monica
Santa Monica is home to eight neighborhoods, each offering a different slice of Southern California life.
Given how tourism-driven this community is, you’re going to see a lot of police officers.
The bigger the crowds, the more police you’ll see.
Here’s a glimpse at the neighborhoods:
- Downtown: shopping, dining, hotels
- Main Street: the artsy part of town
- Mid-City: arts & entertainment area (Hello, celebrity sightings?)
- Montana Avenue: high-end shopping & residential
- Ocean Park Boulevard: artsy, coffee shops, boutiques (and near the airport)
- Pico Boulevard: most ethnically and culturally diverse part of town
- Santa Monica Pier: The postcard shot
- Wilshire Boulevard: major thoroughfare loaded with shopping and dining (expect crowds)
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most patrolled parts of the city, but it also has the biggest crowds.
Just use common sense when it comes to safety.
The pier activities close at 10 pm, but the beach is open 24/7.
Placess to Avoid in Santa Monica
When every one of the eight neighborhoods has a crime rate lower than the rest of Los Angeles, it’s hard to say there’s a “bad” part of town.
Violent crime has been so up and down over the past 30 years, but there’s a downward trend from the crime spikes of the 1990s.
You’ll want to avoid the groups of homeless people that can gather in the touristy areas like right along the beach or near the shopping areas.
Santa Monica residents talk on social media about how there are a lot of panhandlers, but they aren’t known as aggressive and if you ignore them they’ll leave you alone.
According to crime stats and social media reports, the area south of I-10 might get a little more dangerous, so don’t go walking there at night.
You can walk around at night in the neighborhoods, but avoid walking down alleys or dark streets, like you would any city.
Stay on lighted paths near people.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Santa Monica
- There are almost 1,000 homeless people in the Santa Monica area. This can be an eyesore and a safety hazard. The Santa Monica Department gives this sage advice, “Never display money or reveal where you keep it to anyone. The person asking for change may be tempted to forcibly demand that you give up all of your cash.” If anyone does get aggressive while asking for money, report it immediately to the police.
- Do not let an animal panhandle either. The Santa Monica Animal Control Division asks tourists to avoid feeding any animals, from birds to raccoons. Feeding an animal can cause health issues for them. Just enjoy the view.
- You’ll be on shaky ground in Santa Monica, as it’s near one of the largest fault lines in the world. Southern California gets a whopping 10,000 quakes per year. That’s just on the seismic charts, however, and only a few hundred can be felt. The United States Geological Survey says only about 20 are higher than a 4.0. Tourists might get freaked out by the ground moving, but it’s normal for people who live here. If it makes you feel better, Californians wouldn’t know what to do if they saw a tornado and are notoriously bad at driving in the rain.
- Where there’s smoke, there’s wildfire. The Santa Monica area can be impacted by western wildfires throughout the year. These fires can get quite large and destructive, shutting down freeways with thick smoke and reducing air quality. Check the wildfire forecast for your trip and take health precautions if you are outside.
- Beware of “June Gloom.” While June is one of the most popular times to visit Santa Monica, it doesn’t come with the expected sunny beach days. Low clouds and fog hover over Santa Monica for the first part of the day, giving way to the sun around early afternoon. We could get weather technical with the thermal low and how it works, but let’s just leave it at “June Gloom” so you’re aware that an afternoon at the beach will be sunnier than a morning visit.
- To avoid big crowds, the best time of year to visit is during the fall or winter. Prices go down at hotels from October – February. The weather might be a little colder, but with a winter average high doesn’t dip below 65°(F).
- Repeat after me, “I will wear good walking shoes in Santa Monica and will focus on function instead of fashion.” Santa Monica is a walkable town. It’s less than 9 miles in distance to explore all eight neighborhoods. There’s encouragement from the police and the tourism bureau to ditch the car and walk, bike, or ride public transportation. You don’t want to ruin a good day with blisters and sore feet.
- Celebrity sightings are common in Santa Monica. It’s close to Hollywood and it’s as good of a getaway for you as it is for Ben Affleck. The most common places to spot a star are The Ivy at the Shore, the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, Montana Avenue, and the Third Street Promenade. If you do spot a celebrity, be respectful and nice when asking for a photo or autograph.
- Know the beach rules. There is no alcohol, smoking, or glass allowed on the beach. If you want to fish from the pier, you’ll need a sport fishing license. Animals are allowed on the boardwalk, but not on the beach.
- Know the water. The beaches of Santa Monica give way to the beautiful Pacific Ocean, which can startle swimmers with its cool temperature, averaging just 62°(F) year-round. Avoid swimming anywhere near the pier because of strong currents and barnacles found there.
So... How Safe Is Santa Monica Really?
Let’s break down the numbers.
According to the most recent FBI data, based on just the population, the violent crime rate is 721.4 in 100,000.
Now, let’s look at that number with tourists added in.
Santa Monica officials say on any given day there are 250,000 in the area.
Doing that math, the violent crime rate is 256.6 per 100,000.
The robbery rate with tourists added in is 98.8 in 100,000.
The theft rate is 1,257 in 100,000.
With Santa Monica being such a tourist draw, the city officials and law enforcement are going to put extra focus on keeping it safe.
If it’s not safe, tourists won’t come.
You just shouldn’t set yourself up for a crime of opportunity by wearing expensive jewelry, flashing money around, or leaving articles unattended when you jump in the water or run to the bathroom.
How Does Santa Monica Compare?
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - You'll take care of the visa requirements at the airport of your choice. Getting into Santa Monica only requires the patience needed on Los Angeles freeways.
- Currency - The currency is the U.S. Dollar. Just don't go waving it around. Keep your money close to your body and out of sight.
- Weather - Santa Monica's weather is mild year-round. High temperatures can get into the 60s in the winter and up to the 90s in the summer. It's a casual community where shorts and a top or a sundress work just fine. Pack a jacket for those beach breezes that can chill the night air. Winter lows can get into the 50s.
- Airports - You can choose from several commercial airports in the Los Angeles metro area, but Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is closest to Santa Monica at just 12 miles away. LAX also has bus service and shuttles right to Santa Monica. Hollywood Burnak Aiport is 23 miles away. The Long Beach Airport is 30 miles south. John Wayne Airport is 52 miles away in Orange County. Always leave extra time for airport trips due to the infamous Los Angeles traffic jams.
- Travel Insurance - Getting to Santa Monica isn't always a day at the beach, so it's good to get travel insurance to make sure you don't lose money on your getaway. While there are a lot of travel options in the Los Angeles area, delays can arise as a ripple effect from weather and staffing impacts nationwide. Ensure the trip and you'll be at the beach before you know it!
Santa Monica Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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