Are you looking for your next oceanside stay? Have you been daydreaming of palm-lined streets, expansive sandy beaches, and summer vibes that stretch all year round?
The neighboring beach-side neighborhoods of Santa Monica and Venice Beach may be just the paradise you had in mind. Sharing a three-mile stretch of coastline, both areas are iconic destinations nestled on the pacific rim of greater Los Angeles—each one offering its fair share of sights to see and places to go.
But if you’re trying to pick one or the other, you might wonder what are the major differences between Venice Beach vs. Santa Monica?
This guide will help you decide which neighborhood best matches your vibes.
Known for its upscale dining, shopping, and nightlife, Santa Monica is home to more than 90,000 residents. Unlike smaller beach cities, SM perfectly balances the feeling of California coastal living with a cosmopolitan hustle and bustle. It hosts an eclectic mix of shabby chic boutiques and major retail brands, hole-in-the-wall dining gems and Michelin star eateries, dive bars, and rooftop clubs. The city is walkable and has its fair share of transit options, but you’ll love it even more if you own a beach cruiser.
- Location – As Los Angeles’ northernmost beach city, Santa Monica has long served as the gateway to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Malibu. It’s fringed by similarly ritzy cities like Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.
- Industry – Santa Monica is one of Los Angeles’s premier entertainment hubs. It’s the home base for some of the world’s top music, film, and gaming companies, including:
- Santa Monica Studios
- Indian Paintbrush
- Interscope records
- Universal Music
- Activision Blizzard
- Colleges – Santa Monica City College lies within the heart of the city, but the city is also an easy commute for students at UCLA or Pepperdine.
- Tourist attractions – For high-end shopping, take a stroll down Montana Boulevard or Third Street Promenade. If you want to soak in the rays, Santa Monica State Beach was the backdrop for the iconic “Baywatch.” At its center are the century-old Santa Monica Pier, one of the must-see Los Angeles attractions, and Pacific Park, which boasts games, roller coasters, and a solar-powered ferris wheel. If you have a car, the Getty Villa Museum is just a 10-minute drive away.
- Cost of living – Of the two, Santa Monica is slightly less expensive than Venice. Naturally, prices depend on proximity to the beach as well as other factors like size, location, and quality. That said, the average one-bedroom apartment will likely cost between $2,000 to $4,000 per month, with a median price of $2,650.1 Sunset Park or Mid-City is typically the most affordable area, whereas Wilshire Montana and downtown Santa Monica tend to be more expensive.
Venice Beach has long embraced an unofficial motto of “Keep Venice Beach weird.” And if that doesn’t perfectly describe this eclectic, bohemian ocean neighborhood, then nothing does.
To stroll under the Venice sign or along the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk is to experience a rapid-fire tour of humanity in all of its varied eccentricities. As you pass by small souvenir shops, you’ll see buskers, fortune tellers, street performers, musicians, skaters, vendors, locals, and tourists. It’s as if the circus came to the beach and never left.
But the neighborhood is far more than just its famous boardwalk. Just a few blocks away from the cacophony, you’ll find upscale commercial and residential pockets, littered with fine dining restaurants, high-end boutiques, and trendy bars. One thing’s for sure: you won’t have to keep wondering where to eat in Venice Beach with its endless options.
- Location – At 3.089 square miles, Venice beach is a third of the size of its neighbor, Santa Monica. To the east, it’s bordered by Mar Vista. And to the South, Marina Del Rey.
- Industry – Venice Beach is home to an impressive mix of Fortune 500 companies and budding startups. Between it and Mar Vista, Los Angeles has become the Silicon Valley of Southern California with major branches for companies like:
- Colleges – Besides Santa Monica City College, the closest College to Venice Beach is Loyola Marymount University in Playa Vista.
- Tourist attractions – When you’re thinking of things to do in Venice Beach, Naturally, the place to go during the day is Venice Boardwalk, especially if you like people watching. Along the Venice Beach Boardwalk are the famous Muscle Beach, Venice skate park, and Roller Skate Dance Plaza. But if something quieter is to your liking, you can walk the Venice Canals or shop along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, both of which add a charming element to the neighborhood. Later in the day, you can explore Venice Beach at night from its fine dining options to its bars.
- Cost of living – Because the area is so small, Venice beach is slightly more expensive than Santa Monica, with the median cost of rent for a 1 bedroom apartment being $2,913.2
Venice Beach vs Santa Monica Beach—Both Are Winners
The touristy areas of these cities offer different things. Venice Beach is a vibrant beach locale that’s perfect during the day, whereas the larger Santa Monica provides a wider range of things to do and a much more happening nightlife. Both locations are also ideal for exploring nearby cities and beaches such as Downtown Los Angeles, Malibu Beach, Manhattan Beach, or even San Diego, which is less than a 2-hour drive.
Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with either place. Once you get away from the beach, there’s not all that much differentiating the neighboring cities.
But if Venice Beach piques your fancy, leasing at Common Penmaris the move to make. Located in the heart of Venice Beach, it’s just minutes away from either Abbot Kinney Boulevard or Venice Boardwalk. Plus, as a member of Common Penmar, you receive a fully furnished private room, amenities like in-suite laundry, access to a game lounge, and more—all for a more attainable price than the average cost of a rental.
Starting at just $1,650 per month for a 3-month stay, Common is the newer, better way to experience Los Angeles. Book your tour today! With the long stretch of Southern California beaches along the Pacific Ocean, you’ll never run out of beaches to explore while living in the area.
- Zumper. Santa Monica, CA Rent Prices. https://www.zumper.com/rent-research/santa-monica-ca
- Zumper. Venice, Los Angeles, Rent Prices. https://www.zumper.com/rent-research/los-angeles-ca/venice