In 2017, 8.7 million visitors came to Santa Monica, so the city must be doing something right.
What brings so many people to this lively but laid back city by the sea? Of course, there’s the famous Santa Monica pier with its iconic Ferris wheel and incredible aquarium. But the beach side town is also known for its awesome nightlife, including an impressive array of places featuring live music.
Read on for our list of the top ten Santa Monica music venues. Whether you’re looking for a low-key spot to hit up with local friends or you want to make the most of your own visit, there’s sure to be an option or two for you on this list.
1. Basement Tavern
There’s no cover to get into this popular spot, and you’ll enjoy a cool atmosphere like that of an old Chicago speakeasy. The space is an actual basement beneath an 1800’s era mansion and features a game room and an outdoor porch area. They feature different themes on different nights, such as a 90’s night, a live band karaoke and more!
2. Harvelle’s Blues Club
Harvelle’s is the oldest live music venue on the Westside. Established in 1931, this venue has a darker, sexy atmosphere perfect for listening to moody jazz. For a truly unique experience, visit on a Sunday when they stage a burlesque show along with a live jazz band.
3. Casa Del Mar Hotel
Another outstanding venue for live jazz, Casa Del Mar Hotel was built in 1926 and was a premier spot for Hollywood elite. Visit today to enjoy a luxurious atmosphere with sophisticated decor and a beautiful beach view. Watch the sunset, indulge in the live music and get up and do some dancing!
4. The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen
The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen, located just one block from the ocean, has a house band – The Old Fashioned – that plays every Friday night. Mondays and Thursdays feature other local bands. You can catch Reggae and Surf Rock on Sundays between 4-10pm.
5. Shutters on the Beach
Shutters on the Beach is known for it’s relaxed setting right on the white sandy beaches of Santa Monica. Enjoy a nice romantic evening listening to live piano jazz being played in the lobby. This is one of the best Santa Monica music venues for a truly great romantic evening.
6. Finn McCool’s
Finn McCool’s is filled with artifacts from an actual pub in Ireland. The items were packaged up and shipped from Ireland through the Panama Canal to it’s home here in Santa Monica. They feature an Open Mic Night and have earned the title “Best Irish Music In Los Angeles”. Be sure to check out other live bands Tuesdays through Saturdays.
One of the most unique spots on our list of the best Santa Monica music venues, McCabe’s is a music instrument store that doubles as a concert venue. Patrons can stop in to hear acoustic and folk music featuring guitars, ukuleles, banjos, fiddles, and the like.
8. The Bungalow Santa Monica
The Bungalow is probably one of the most laid back venues on our list and exudes that breezy, California cool vibe that Santa Monica is known for. Hang out on the large front deck and enjoy the live music around fire pits and twinkling lights or socialize in the back garden.
9. Santa Monica Farmers Market
The Sunday Farmers Market features live music every week in a unique and lively setting. Browse the booths for fresh cut flowers, arts and crafts, kids activities and more while enjoying the live featured music.
If you’re into dive joints with great live music, Santa Monica’s Trip just may live up to your expectations. With no cover, a rustic ambiance, and live music from up-and-coming artists every Sunday, Trip is a local favorite.
Enjoy Santa Monica Music Venues, Restaurants, and More
The Santa Monica nightlife is impressive, but don’t miss out on all the other great things this beach city has to offer. Check out the Santa Monica History Museum, the pier, and Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe.
Make sure to stop by Big Dean’s and check out our selection of beer as well as our menu. Whether you want to get a bite and drink before or after your live band excursion, we have you covered!