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Los Angeles Community Spotlight: Santa Monica

Santa Monica beach

Sun-drenched beaches, a pier filled with shops and restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere – these are only some of the things that make Santa Monica, CA one of the most sought-after locations in Los Angeles County.

Several accolades serve as a testament to the city’s high quality of life – Forbes called it “Southern California’s Favorite Beach Town,” while Niche ranked it as one of the Best Suburbs to Live in California in 2023. Home to over 93,000 residents and drawing over 8 million tourists each year, the numbers clearly speak for themselves.

But Santa Monica’s allure goes beyond its iconic beaches. A national leader in sustainability, the city has ambitious goals like water self-sufficiency and carbon neutrality in the coming decades. Education is also a priority, with the highly-rated Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College providing numerous educational opportunities. Public safety and healthcare are also top-notch, with a Class 1 ISO-rated Fire Department and renowned medical facilities.

While new residents come for the beaches and public services, many stay for its dynamic culture and community spirit. Planning to move to this gorgeous city? Here’s what you need to know about the neighborhoods in Santa Monica:


Santa Monica pier

Santa Monica isn’t just a postcard-perfect weekend getaway spot. Beneath its glamorous facade lies a rich history, a strong community spirit, and a calendar brimming with events, all of which paint a more complete picture of this coastal city.


Santa Monica’s narrative stretches back to 1769. During an expedition through the region, Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà bestowed upon the area the name “Santa Monica,” a tribute to Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine.

In 1875, the city’s official layout began to be implemented under the direction of Senator John P. Jones and Colonel Robert S. Baker. Senator Jones, envisioning a seaside haven, built a Victorian home named “Miramar,” meaning “view of the sea,” which later welcomed guests as a hotel.

Interestingly, Santa Monica boasts the oldest stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, from Centinela Avenue to the Pacific Ocean. Originally christened Nevada Avenue, it received its current moniker in 1913.

Throughout the early 20th century, Santa Monica prospered as a flourishing residential and vacation destination. Its iconic pier, pristine beaches, esteemed art galleries, and renowned theaters have endured as significant attractions, drawing visitors from across the globe.

Community programs

The city offers a diverse range of programs, from educational and cultural initiatives to public safety programs and sustainable living workshops. Here’s how Santa Monica empowers its residents and cultivates a nurturing environment for all:

Resources and reading programs at the Santa Monica Public Library

The Santa Monica Public Library offers a vast collection of resources and services, serving the educational and recreational needs of all ages. Included in its myriad of programs is the popular “Santa Monica Reads,” a citywide reading program that encourages community dialogue through the shared enjoyment of one book.

One of the library’s notable programs is the City of Santa Monica Inaugural Poet Laureate Program. This program champions the city’s vibrant literary scene. It fosters the creation of new works, promotes arts education, and engages the public in the beauty of poetry and literary arts.

Beyond its physical collection, the library boasts an impressive digital library accessible 24/7 with a library card. Dive into a universe of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming movies and music, digital newspapers, and magazines – all from the comfort of your home. This online treasure trove provides entertainment and educational resources for the whole family.

Youth and senior enrichment programs

Committed to fostering a truly inclusive community, Santa Monica offers enriching programs designed for its youngest and oldest residents:

  • Empowering seniors through active lifestyle habits. The Santa Monica Active Aging Pilot Program acts as the main source of transportation and mobility resources for residents aged 65 and over. This program encourages older adults to walk, bike, and utilize public transportation more frequently, ultimately helping them improve their independence, mobility, safety, and overall health.
  • Investing in bright futures. Santa Monica Cradle to Career (SMC2C) embodies the city’s commitment to its youth. This collaborative initiative brings together the City, Santa Monica College, the school district, service providers, and community members in developing programs and opportunities that ensure every child in Santa Monica thrives from birth to adulthood.
  • Learning beyond the classroom. Santa Monica offers a variety of recreational programs for its younger residents. The CREST program provides after-school enrichment classes and exciting day camp experiences for students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Santa Monica also holds seasonal camps like STEAM Adventure and Surf N’ Turf Adventure, which encourages children to engage with lessons and topics in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics while also enjoying traditional camp activities.
  • Accessible transportation for all. Promoting mobility for older adults and individuals with disabilities, the Mobility On Demand Every Day (MODE) program is a partnership between Big Blue Bus and Lyft. This innovative program offers shared-ride services, including convenient on-demand transportation with curb-to-curb pick-up and payment options.

Annual events

From musical concerts to food festivals, here are some must-see events that define the Santa Monica experience.

Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series

During summer, the Santa Monica Pier transforms into a magical open-air concert venue. The Twilight Concert Series features a captivating lineup of established and rising artists, fostering a communal love for music. With the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop, these free concerts create unforgettable memories.

Main Street Summer SOULstice

Feel the summer sizzle through Santa Monica’s streets at the Main Street Summer SOULstice festival. Held every June, this exciting street fair holds live performances by local bands while artisanal crafts and delectable local food line the streets — creating a true celebration of the summer solstice and the community’s love for music, art, and cuisine.

Farmers markets

Weekly farmers markets bring the bounty of California’s farms to Downtown, Main Street, and Pico neighborhoods. Mingle with local farmers, discover fresh, seasonal produce, and support sustainable food systems while fostering a sense of community.


Ready to start your search for the perfect home? Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Santa Monica:

Ocean Park

Ocean Park stands out for its dynamic lifestyle and easy access to the sand and surf. Located along the popular Main Street corridor, residents can easily explore a vibrant culinary scene featuring local favorites like Augie’s, Cobi’s, and Urth Caffe.

While shopping options within the neighborhood itself are limited, major grocery stores like Whole Foods are a short drive away. Downtown Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade also offer a wide range of retail options for a convenient shopping spree.

Walkable with diverse housing options

One of Ocean Park’s biggest draws is its walkability. Residents can easily navigate the neighborhood on foot, with Santa Monica Beach just a short stroll away. Its location near major freeways (I-10 and I-405) also allows for convenient car travel when needed.

If you’re eyeing this neighborhood, you have a variety of housing options to choose from. Here you can find charming Craftsman bungalows from the 1920s or Mediterranean-inspired houses, most of which are updated with modern amenities while still retaining their historic charm. You can also choose from a range of condo and townhouse options, some located just steps from the beach.

Family-friendly amenities 

Dorothy Green Park, located just off Barnard Way, is a great beachfront park for families, featuring amenities like a playground, a bike path, and picnic tables. Santa Monica Beach offers a variety of opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and water activities as well.

Downtown Santa Monica

Downtown Santa Monica is the city’s pedestrian-friendly epicenter. It centers around the renowned Third Street Promenade, an open-air commercial district where you can find upscale retailers, trendy cafes, and acclaimed restaurants.

The weekly farmers market, considered one of the best in Los Angeles, adds to its lively atmosphere with fresh produce and local crafts. Moreover, the new Metro Line at 4th Street and Colorado provides Downtown residents with a direct connection to Los Angeles, increasing the area’s accessibility.

Luxurious living

Despite its bustling environment, Downtown Santa Monica offers a range of luxury residential properties, including upscale condominiums and a few exclusive single-family homes along the Ocean Avenue Extension. While these residences come with premium price tags, they boast stunning ocean views and unbeatable proximity to the beach.

A stage for entertainment, shopping, and history

The Third Street Promenade is more than just a shopping district — it’s a vibrant stage for entertainment, culture, and history. Throughout the year, you’ll encounter local artisans, musicians, and culinary delights at events like the Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival and Summer SOULstice, ensuring a lively and entertaining experience.

The famous Santa Monica Pier – with its ferris wheel, bustling arcade, and amusement park – stands as a testament to the city’s rich past and marks the western terminus of Route 66. Preserved art deco buildings and historic theaters also provide a glimpse into the architectural trends and cultural shifts of the 20th century.

Sunset Park

Located between Pico Boulevard and Dewey Street, Sunset Park evokes a nostalgia reminiscent of old-time suburbia with its family-friendly block parties and warm, welcoming community.

The perfect beachside suburb

Originally developed for Douglas Aircraft Company workers in the 1920s and 1940s, Sunset Park has an eclectic architectural profile. Here you can find well-preserved or tastefully remodeled single-family homes with Spanish Revival and Tudor-style elements, as well as charming bungalows and custom luxury estates.

Families will find Sunset Park particularly appealing. Homes here typically range from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, which provides more than enough space for a growing household. Moreover, the neighborhood’s grid layout makes navigating the area a breeze.

Abundant recreational amenities

The 17-acre Clover Park serves as the recreational heart of the neighborhood, offering a playground, baseball and soccer fields, and tennis and volleyball courts. Other nearby spots include Virginia Avenue Park (in the Pico neighborhood) and Venice Beach (just two miles away).

North of Montana

North of Montana offers a refined lifestyle that has attracted many high-profile residents, from tech titans to A-list celebrities. Boasting excellent schools, a plethora of amenities, and coveted proximity to the beach, it’s easy to understand why.

From Mid-Century charm to modern grandeur

North of Montana has undergone a remarkable transformation. Once dominated by mid-century ranch-style homes and 1970s apartment buildings, the area has blossomed into a luxurious landscape. Today you’ll find it filled with palatial Spanish Revivals, high-rise condominiums, and custom-built mansions.

North of Montana has also managed to redefine studio living. These properties typically reside in postwar low-rise buildings that have been meticulously remodeled, with top-of-the-line amenities like 24-hour doormen, concierge services, valet parking, fitness centers, rooftop decks, sparkling pools, and even dog-walking services.

Easy breezy living

When you’re a North of Montana resident, daily conveniences are at your doorstep. Montana Avenue, the neighborhood’s main strip, is a hub of activity with shops selling everything from books and antiques to organic produce and gourmet foods.

Apart from retail, the area also hosts several fitness studios, wellness centers, and beauty salons. Commuting is also stress-free, with easy access to major freeways and public transportation like buses and light rail services.

Wilshire Montana

Despite its proximity to the dynamic downtown area, this walkable beach community offers a peaceful atmosphere. Residents and visitors alike are drawn to Wilshire Montana’s charm, from celebrities seeking a quiet retreat to families enjoying leisurely strolls along Montana Avenue. Convenient access to major freeways like the I-10 and I-405 ensures an easy commute when needed.

Wilshire Montana caters to a modern lifestyle, with housing primarily consisting of condos and townhouses. While residences may come at a slight premium compared to other areas of Santa Monica, they offer excellent value with modern amenities. Think sleek appliances, gleaming hardwood floors, updated bathrooms, and in some cases, stunning ocean views.

Your gateway to outdoor adventures

Wilshire Montana is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. A portion of the famed Palisades Park graces the neighborhood, offering breathtaking views, inspiring art installations, a scenic walking path, and a fragrant rose garden. Santa Monica State Beach, with its volleyball courts and paved bike path, is also a short distance away.

For those seeking active recreation, Reed Park has amenities like basketball and tennis courts, a playground, picnic tables, and even Wi-Fi, making it a popular community hub.

A shopping and dining haven

Shopping enthusiasts will delight in the charming mix of local boutiques and national retailers lining Wilshire Boulevard and the nearby Third Street Promenade. Residents can find groceries with ease at Pavilions on Montana Avenue. Foodies can explore a diverse culinary scene, with popular spots like Sweet Lady Jane bakery and Caffe Luxxe providing a much needed coffee and sugar fix.


Pico is a peaceful neighborhood less than two miles away from Downtown Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. Easy access to Culver City and Brentwood makes it one of the most well-connected communities in Santa Monica, all while keeping the refreshing ocean breeze close at hand.

Steeped in character

California bungalows from the 1920s to 1950s define Pico’s architectural landscape, characterized by low-pitched roofs and stucco facades bathed in calming neutral tones. Home buyers can also expect distinct floor plans, charming exterior details, and large windows that welcome an abundance of natural light. And if you walk around the neighborhood, you’ll find that its wide sidewalks and tree-lined streets make for comfortable, leisurely strolls.

A plethora of recreational opportunities

Virginia Avenue Park caters to all ages with basketball courts, a walking path, a playground, a splash pad, and picnic tables – perfect for family gatherings. Free Wi-Fi keeps you connected while you relax.

For a dose of culture, explore the Bergamot Station Arts Center, an award-winning creative arts complex and community hub that hosts free art exhibits, live comedy shows, music, poetry readings, and educational programs.

Lastly, Pico Boulevard provides a variety of dining and shopping options. Make sure to indulge in authentic Mexican fare at Gilbert’s El Indio, a beloved neighborhood institution since 1974.

Northeast Santa Monica

Northeast Santa Monica provides a distinct yet desirable contrast to Santa Monica’s bustling beach scene. Its tree-lined streets, charming architecture, and proximity to commercial areas and recreational sites makes the neighborhood ideal for those seeking a quieter pace of life, without having to sacrifice urban amenities.

Tranquil beauty and architectural gems

The housing styles in Northeast Santa Monica are diverse and full of character, ranging from charming bungalows to sleek, contemporary residences. Many of the homes also boast well-tended gardens, adding to the area’s lush, serene ambiance.

Recreation and leisure

Wilshire Boulevard serves as the neighborhood’s main commercial district. Dining options are abundant, offering everything from authentic Italian dishes at Osteria del Fornaio to handmade doughnuts at Sidecar Doughnuts.

As a resident, you enjoy easy access to both relaxation and recreation. Douglas Park offers a green haven for picnics, leisurely strolls, and a chance to soak up the California sunshine. For those seeking a more active lifestyle, the nearby Brentwood Country Club provides an opportunity to perfect your swing.


Ready to make Santa Monica your home? Let the Antola Properties Group at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices be your trusted guide. With over 17 years of experience navigating the Los Angeles market, we’ll ensure a smooth and stress-free home buying experience.

Unlock the door to your dream home in this beautiful coastal city today! You can call us at 310.230.3755 or leave us a message here.

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