We didn't go to Santa Monica for the beach - we took a walk down there and the beach is nice and wide - we didn't go in the water. The pier is a little tacky for our taste - the usual Bubba Shrimp and funnel cakes and rides that you can see anywhere at these types of locations.
We really enjoyed the shops on 3rd street - the street is a pleasant area to spend a morning or afternoon with plenty of restaurants etc. Santa Monica is an upscale beach town and a welcome break from the traffic in LA
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