Santa Monica Nightlife: The Best Bars in Santa Monica

Bars and restaurants in Santa Monica, California
Bars and restaurants in Santa Monica, California | © Carl DeAbreu / Alamy Stock Photo
Mayura Jain

Famed for its pristine beach and iconic pier, Santa Monica also boasts a buzzing nightlife with no shortage of stellar drinking establishments. From dive bars to upscale cocktail lounges, here’s our guide to the best bars in Santa Monica.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Father’s Office

Father’s Office has been a Santa Monica staple since 1953. It’s a gastropub that keeps customers coming long after dinner hours with its thoughtful selection of craft beers. In the old days it was the only place where many of California’s original micro-brews – such as Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada – were served within the same four walls. Now legendary for its Office Burger, Father’s Office still has plenty to boast about in the bar as well. It has a rotating selection of 36 seasonal craft beers on tap. But fame has a price: the place is small, and its popularity makes it a challenge to find seating.

P7XCYF Sazerac – a classic alcoholic cocktail based on cognac or whiskey, which is mixed by the build method, that is, the ingredients are mixed directly in P7XCYF_

The Daily Pint is where college bar vibes meet a scotch, whiskey and beer selection worthy of snobbery. While its unassuming Pico Boulevard storefront might slip under the radar for some, it’s a local favorite for craft beers, a glass of rare whiskey and a game of pool or Jenga.

Basement Tavern

Located underneath the Victorian – an enchanting Victorian house-turned-event-venue – the Basement Tavern is an underground speakeasy-style cocktail joint and music venue, hosting local acts in swanky surrounds with a lively atmosphere. There is always something going on at this unique and historic destination – join in the fun during live band karaoke on Wednesdays from 9pm until close, or enjoy ’90s nostalgia on Sunday nights.

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen grew from a series of dinners hosted by founder Josh Loeb inside his beautiful home in Rustic Canyon, set in the mountains of Santa Monica. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen is an extension of this – a neighborhood wine bar and restaurant where friends can come together and celebrate the best things in life: great food, great wine and great people. It offers an extensive wine list to pair with menu items such as a Black Mission fig crostini and dandelion chocolate cake.

Bar Chloe

Cocktails

This swanky boudoir of a bar delights its guests with dreamy cocktails like its signature Lavender Gimlet. Bar Chloe looks posh enough to belong to one of the neighboring beach-side hotels, with its low-lit chandeliers and chaise lounge chairs. However, it ditches pretension for simple, good drinks. In keeping with the turn-of-the-century influence, there are Prohibition-era cocktails like the Tom Collins or Sidecar.

The Gaslite, Santa Monica

Looking for high-octane fun with no frills? There’s nowhere better than the Gaslite. Old-school decor, a buzzing dance floor and raucous karaoke await visitors to this lowbrow dive bar-cum-nightclub, not to mention some very reasonably priced beer. Rowdy yet welcoming, the dimly-lit Gaslite has comfy red vinyl booths for resting between songs and is open seven days a week. Everyone should experience this most authentic hotspot of Santa Monica nightlife at least once in their life.

The Misfit Restaurant + Bar, Santa Monica

Downtown Santa Monica’s resident bad girl has a good reputation – for its service, food and booze. Misfit is known for nailing summery handcrafted cocktails like its Basil Gimlet, Sangria, and Pimm’s Cup concoctions. During the day, savor the lengthy happy hour by sitting out in the sunshine. Don’t leave without sampling one of the delectable salted chocolate chip cookies.

Library Alehouse

Set on Main Street, Library Alehouse is a must-try for its ‘library of beer’ – a curated, rotating selection of American craft beers. The perfect spot for a laid-back brew, this casual watering hole has a cozy interior and a charming open-air patio. Hungry? Enjoy your beer with a dish from Library Alehouse’s menu of American comfort food.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article