Tongva Park#8 in Best Things To Do in Santa Monica
Price & Hours
Like skinnier Palisades Park to the west, Tongva Park offers a welcome respite from Santa Monica's tourist-filled beach and shopping thoroughfare. In this 6-acre oasis, which is named after the region's Indigenous Tongva Indian Tribe, you'll find a mix of native and locally appropriate plants spread throughout four areas: Observation Hill, Discovery Hill, Garden Hill and Gathering Hill. Observation Hill beckons to those in search of phenomenal ocean panoramas. Discovery Hill draws families with its kids amenities, including a splash pad, a play area and a shaded picnic facility. Garden Hill impresses nature lovers with its stunning flora (think: colorful lilies, agaves in various shapes and tall pokers in fiery hues). And Gathering Hill draws culture hounds keen on attending a free concert at the amphitheater or checking out the park's unique Weather Field art installation.
Previous visitors loved Tongva Park's thoughtful design, central location, beautiful landscaping and excellent children's amenities. However, some felt uncomfortable with the number of homeless residents they saw here during their visits. If this is a concern to you, plan on visiting during the day; several past visitors said the park felt less safe at night.
Tongva Park sits close to Ken Genser Square (where you'll find Santa Monica's city hall) and top attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade. Basic amenities like restrooms, walking paths and free Wi-Fi access are available in addition to the park's more unique facilities. There is no on-site parking lot, but several metered spaces and garages are located within walking distance. The LA Metro's Downtown Santa Monica Station and multiple Big Blue Bus stops are also situated nearby. If you decide to bike here, you can park your bicycle at any of the park's entrances.
The park welcomes visitors for free every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Keep in mind, operating hours for Discovery Hill's splash pad may vary. For more information, visit the City of Santa Monica's Tongva Park website.
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#1 Santa Monica Pier and Beach
Santa Monica's 3 ½ miles of shoreline, known as Santa Monica State Beach, are renowned as some of the area's best thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. In addition to the gorgeous stretch of sand, the beach is home to unique amenities like the Original Muscle Beach (a 1930s-era beach park with retro gym equipment) and the International Chess Park. What's more, the beach offers traditional facilities, such as the North Beach Playground and the Annenberg Community Beach House. But perhaps the beach's best-known attraction is its famous pier.
Stretching from the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk (the end of Route 66) to a spot above Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Monica Pier is the beach's most recognizable landmark. Not only will you see it in countless photos of the city, but you'll also catch a glimpse of it in several films, including "Forrest Gump." Some of its most popular amenities include a historic carousel, Heal the Bay Aquarium and Pacific Park, which boasts an assortment of arcade games, rides and food stalls.
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