Santa Monica is one of the most iconic beachfront cities in the country, and for good reason. Crashing waves of crystal-clear water, soft white sand and an eclectic crowd makes the beach experience in Santa Monica second to none. The city’s biggest attraction is its world-famous pier, where the young and young at heart can spend a full day and never get bored. The beloved Santa Monica Pier features an arcade, aquarium, live music and an amusement park complete with the instantly recognizable Ferris wheel. Santa Monica’s location is another strong selling point as it is located just minutes from Los Angeles. Choosing a spot to look for Santa Monica vacation rentals can be challenging when you’ve got multiple options, so here’s a list of the best 10 neighborhoods, towns, and cities near Santa Monica.

1. Venice Beach

aerial view of the city

One of L.A.’s most popular neighborhoods for vacationers, Venice Beach gives you everything you’d want from a SoCal beach and more. Spend the day at Ocean Front Walk people-watching. If you go during the summer, you’ll see a variety of peculiar entertainers, vendors, and other bizarre characters, including fortune tellers, performance artists, tarot card readers, bodybuilders, and buskers. This fully equipped boardwalk is lined with restaurants and shops.

2. Hollywood

Hollywood sign

Located just 30 minutes from Santa Monica, L.A.’s Hollywood neighborhood is a premier destination for vacationers of all ages. Take a stroll down the Walk of Fame pointing out your favorite celebrities’ iconic stars. Spend the day at Universal Studios catching some behind the scenes tours of some of your favorite movie sets, then ride the rides at the world-class, family-friendly amusement park. Of course, while you’re in Hollywood, you have to see at least one movie. Catch the latest blockbuster at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

3. Glendale

children's playground

If you want a vacation rental in a quieter suburban area, Glendale is a great choice. It’s less than a half hour’s drive from Santa Monica and Los Angeles, giving you quick access to the hustle and bustle of city life if you feel adventurous. Glendale has plenty to offer though, so be sure to do some exploring. Pack a cooler and head to Verdugo Park, the area’s biggest park. Amenities include a picnic area, sports fields and courts, a skateboard park, and multiple playgrounds for the kids. While you’re in Glendale, stop by the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) to browse a huge selection of vibrant neon signs.

4. Valencia

spinning swing

Valencia is a Santa Clarita neighborhood unofficially referred to as “Awesometown.” The area offers some fantastic attractions that are fun for visitors of all ages. Fin’s Glow Zone is one example. It’s a mini-golf course but with a twist — it’s illuminated with glowing black lights. Valencia’s most popular attraction is Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park is known for legendary roller coasters such as X2, Tatsu, Twisted Colossus, and Goliath, but it also boasts the most kid-friendly rides of any SoCal amusement park. The whole family will have a blast on rides such as Buccaneer, Cyclone 500, Jet Stream, and Road Runner Express, just to name a few.

5. Beverly Hills

street signs

Beverly Hills is the go-to place to look for luxury vacation rentals. While the prices may be high, the amenities are worth the cost of admission. This affluent neighborhood is known for its celebrity residents, as well as its world-class shopping on Rodeo Drive and natural beauty throughout the area. Relax in gorgeous Will Rogers Memorial Park, taking in the views of picturesque palm trees, sprawling fields, and colorful rose gardens.

6. Los Feliz

park viewed on top of the mountain

Los Feliz is just a stone’s throw away from Santa Monica, and it has some of L.A.’s most breathtaking view of the city, as well as plenty of natural beauty when you feel like spending some time away from the busy city. Situated at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park encompasses 4,310 acres of land. Take a hike through the park where you’ll see caves, canyons, and forests that you wouldn’t expect to find in the L.A. area. Head to the Griffith Observatory for a staggering view of the Los Angeles landscape. Other attractions in Griffith Park include the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, and the Travel Town Museum.

7. Mid-City

girl sitting under the tree
Source: Flickr / Ryan Vaarsi

Mid-City is Santa Monica’s furthest inland neighborhood, and it’s known as Santa Monica’s arts and entertainments district. Foodies will love this area, as it is home to a huge and diverse range of exceptional restaurants. The area also hosts quite a few art galleries. Bring the whole family for a day of fun and relaxation at Memorial Park, a public park with four tennis courts, a skateboard park, a playground, and multiple sports fields. The area also has many one-of-a-kind shops, including Hi De Ho Comics & Books, the oldest comics store in Los Angeles County.

8. Echo Park

aerial view of the stadium

Echo Park is one of Los Angeles’ hippest neighborhoods. While it’s popular among the younger crowd, there’s plenty to do and see for visitors of all ages. Rent a pedal boat or canoe, and spend the day leisurely exploring beautiful Echo Park Lake. If you’d prefer to stay on dry ground, bring your camera and take a hike through the gorgeous Elysian Park, where you’ll enjoy some of the city’s finest views. If you’re renting a vacation home during baseball season, enjoy a night of comradery and hot dogs at the iconic Dodger Stadium.

9. Silver Lake

city buildings

Silver Lake is a great L.A. neighborhood that’s on the rise. Like Echo Park, it’s a popular spot for the city’s young and hip, but it also offers plenty of family fun too. The Silver Lake Reservoir is a favorite hangout spot among the locals. Shoot some hoops at the basketball court, or sit and relax while the kids play on the playground. There are designated picnic areas by the water where you can enjoy lunch, and there’s even a dog park if you brought your four-legged travel companion.

10. Manhattan Beach

beach houses

If you plan on exploring Southern California’s exquisite beaches, don’t leave Manhattan Beach off the list. It’s a great area to look for vacation rentals, giving you quick access to Santa Monica, as well as all of Los Angeles’ hot spots. This area is home to the West Coast’s oldest standing concrete pier, The Manhattan Beach Pier. The Pier is one of the best fishing areas in the city, and it’s also a great place to just sit and enjoy the relaxing sound of the waves and the feeling of the cool sea wind. While you’re at the pier, be sure to check out its restaurants and shops, as well as the aquarium.