2023 Insider's Guide to Santa Monica

by Dan Allen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday February 14, 2023

2023 Insider's Guide to Santa Monica
  (Source:Visit Santa Monica)

With the new year now in full swing, it's the perfect time to check out what's fresh and exciting in Santa Monica, Southern California's sunny seaside paradise. From exciting hotel openings to delicious new dining options to world-class art exhibitions, Santa Monica is ready to delight your senses on a whole new level this year.

(Source: Visit Santa Monica)


Set at the heart of Santa Monica just steps from its famous pier and gorgeous main beach, the just-opened Pierside Hotel inspires an easy come, easy go kind of getaway, where you can travel from bed to beach in a heartbeat. With 132 spacious and Santa Monica-chic guest rooms and suites bathed in natural textures and ocean-inspired colors, the Pierside embodies sophisticated seaside comfort. The Pierside's Board Shop offers guests free rentals of bikes, boards, and beyond for exploring Santa Monica by both land and sea. And even more delights are on the Pierside horizon, with both an outdoor saltwater pool and all-day coastal-California eatery The Surfing Fox opening here in March.

Just a few short blocks away and also hugging the beautiful Santa Monica shoreline, The Georgian Hotel is being restored to its original Art Deco grandeur thanks to a head-to-toe renovation, and is set to fully reopen in Spring 2023. Artwork throughout the 84-room hotel tells the stories not just of the huge Hollywood stars like Carole Lombard and Clark Gable who once frequented the hotel, but also of local heroes like Nick Gabaldon, one of the world's first documented African-American surfers.

(Source: Visit Santa Monica)


One of the nation's buzziest new healthy dining chains has arrived in Santa Monica with the recent opening of MIXT, located at the corner of 4th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. Its unique array of salads, sandwiches and grain bowls are all made to order from scratch, and include fun options like the Cowboy and Bachelor salads.

The first California (or indeed, U.S. mainland) location of a Hawaiian donut institution, Holey Grail Donuts has changed the arc of donut history by using the superfood taro as their starch, pounding and fermenting it to create a dough base unlike any previous donut incarnations. Holey Grail's tasty and completely vegan options include the Original Sin with Hawaiian vanilla and maple, and the Hail Mary with cardamom and rose.

And there's even more new holey and delicious goodness in Santa Monica with the recent opening of Layla Bagels on Ocean Park Boulevard. Sergio Espana, an alumnus of popular local bakeries Tartine and Gjusta, serves up a bagel that he's described as a cross between Montreal and New York styles.

(Source: Visit Santa Monica)

Things to Do

The exciting and always popular Frieze Los Angeles art fair comes to Santa Monica this year, bringing together 120 galleries from more than 22 countries to the Santa Monica Airport from February 16 to 19 for its largest event ever.

Taste your way around the city with the Underground Donut Tour, a two-hour walking and sampling tour led by a passionate donut expert, making four stops including the iconic Randy's Donuts and the artisanal Sidecar Doughnuts.

Experience enchantment at Illusion Magic Lounge, a dazzling 150-seat theater hosting performances of world-class magicians, and a variety of artists, alongside an eclectic lounge serving otherworldly drinks and food.

(Source: Visit Santa Monica)

Art Exhibitions

The 18th Street Arts Center's airport campus hosts two exciting exhibitions early this year. At the Propeller Gallery, Indian-American artist Ranu Mukherjee presents her first solo Los Angeles-area exhibition Dear Future, in which mixed-media paintings and a film contemplate forests as sites of survival, biodiversity, non-human agency, indigenous struggle, and interspecies communication. At the Kitchen Lab, a group show called (Re)imagining Home: On Care for Our Common Home explores our shared concept of home and how it has been changed by the pandemic.

A pillar of the Santa Monica arts community for nearly three decades, Bergamot Station is the largest art gallery complex and cultural center in Southern California. Saturday, February 18 will be an especially exciting day at Bergamot Station, with the opening of the two-day Photo Forward LA photography fair at Danziger Gallery, and more than 20 other galleries opening their doors for receptions for new shows, including Jackson Casady at the Richard Heller Gallery and Julian Lennon's Atmospheria at the William Turner Gallery.

Over at the California Heritage Museum on Main Street, a juried group show called Portraits will feature works by members of Women Painters West, the longest established women's artistic organization in California, with a history stretching back more than a century. Set in the 1894 historic landmark Roy Jones house, the Heritage Museum presents multicultural exhibitions that promote the history and cultures of the people of California.

And later this year, the global art and technology phenomenon Arte Museum will open its U.S. flagship on Santa Monica Place in the former ArcLight Cinema space, creating a 48,000-square-foot immersive art destination that's expected to draw one million visitors a year.

For a wealth of more great information on Santa Monica attractions, beaches, restaurants, shopping, bars, hotels, hotspots, and everything you might need to help plan your perfect trip no matter where your interests and needs may lie, check out Visit Santa Monica's official website.