Things to do in Santa Monica

Unveiling the Best Live Music Venues in Santa Monica

Immerse yourself in live music in Santa Monica by exploring these fantastic concert venues, intimate gigs, and jazz nights.

Listening to live music is one of the best ways to bring a city to life, and Santa Monica is no exception. Visit these live music hot spots to witness remarkable performances of jazz, blues, swing, classical, and other genres. We're sure you'll want to add several of them to your list of things to do in Santa Monica.

Popular Live Music Venues

Live music is something the people of Santa Monica take seriously. Scattered around the city are a variety of music venues dedicated to showcasing the talent of artists from the local region and around the world.

Come with us as we take a melodic journey through some of Santa Monica's best live music venues. We promise this list will be music to your ears.

Photographer: Jens Thekkeveettil

1. BroadStage

If you want to find the bleeding edge of the Santa Monica music scene, BroadStage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center is the place to go. This venue has three stages.

The Mainstage has 500 seats, the Edye is a black box theater with 100 seats, and The East Wing is an indoor/outdoor stage. This flexibility allows BroadStage to host a variety of musical acts. All three venues are wheelchair accessible because everyone deserves to experience great music.

The venue is all about diversity, from jazz bands to classical orchestras and everything in between. Whether you like to tap your toe to blues rhythms or let the sweet melodies of chamber music carry you away, BroadStage has something for you.

2. TR!P

Every night is live music night at TR!P in Santa Monica. You can enjoy a cold beer while listening to a bevy of music genres. This venue has 16 beers on tap and a selection of more than 60 from around the world.

Every Monday, TR!P hosts an open mic for anyone who wants to share their music with the world. The show begins at 8 p.m., but you should get there at 7:15 p.m. to sign up for a slot.

As performers ourselves, we can tell you that showing off your skills in public can be nerve-racking, but it’s worth it for the sense of satisfaction it brings.

3. Terrazza at Hotel Casa Del Mar

Do you wish a gorgeous músico would whisk you away to Barcelona? Terrazza at Hotel Casa Del Mar can provide the next best thing. It offers an exquisite evening of song, seafood, and sangria by the Santa Monica Pier.

Live music is available every night except on Mondays. (Even musical geniuses need a day to rest and retune.) Performers hail from all over the world and bring a diverse range of genres to the guests of this beautiful oceanside venue. You'll hear soul, gospel, jazz, and pop, as well as R&B and guitar solos that dance like performers on a stage.

The venue's wine list is expertly curated. Why not order yourself some ceviche, sip on a glass of fine wine, and enjoy the ocean views as sweet sounds tease your ears? Or perhaps you prefer to celebrate with cocktails?

Whatever you’re drinking, visiting Terrazza is the best way to relax after a full day of exploring Hollywood's sights and sounds.

4. Troubadour

Since opening its doors in 1957, the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood has given a leg up to countless amazing singers and bands.

Famous entertainers like Elton John, James Taylor, and Tom Waits got their start here. Even today, it's the place to be for new and exciting acts from all over the world. This venue is a favorite spot for folks who love live music and want to soak up the cool vibes in a place with lots of history.

Imagine how it feels to listen to live music in the place where Bob Dylan once played a jam session in an empty club, Joni Mitchell made her LA debut, and Fiona Apple played her first live U.S. gig. Yep, all those things happened right here at the Troubadour.

Want to be a part of that history? Come on down! You could be in the room when the next chart-topping act gets discovered.

5. Hollywood Bowl

Ah, the famous Hollywood Bowl. With a capacity of over 17,000 seats, it's one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world. Superstars like Beyoncé, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra have all graced its stage.

There's always something exciting happening at this venue, no matter what genre of music you prefer. So, grab your tickets, bring your friends, and prepare for an unforgettable night of music under the stars.

Why not go to the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival in June? If hip-hop is more your thing, the Roots Picnic later in the summer is for you. At all times of year, you can enjoy midweek concerts on Classical Tuesdays or Classical Thursdays.

In fact, there are so many amazing acts at this world-famous venue that you might want to consider subscribing. Subscription packages guarantee low prices on the best seats in the house, as well as exclusive presales, discounts, and more.

6. Santa Monica Pier

Do you yearn for music with an ocean view? If so, the Santa Monica Pier is your dream Santa Monica live music venue. Every third Thursday on the pier is Local’s Night, when local bands put on a show. The ocean in the background and the sun setting on the horizon make it the perfect place for date night. Best of all, it’s free!

Photographer: McRonny

7. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall has been a major feature of the LA skyline for 20 years. The distinctive building is home to the LA Phil Orchestra, which has become internationally renowned under the musical direction of Grammy-winning Gustavo Dudamel.

Every seat in the Walt Disney Concert Hall has a clear view of the stage, and the carefully designed acoustics ensure everyone can hear the music clearly. During the performance, settle back in your seat, close your eyes, and let the music transport you to another world.

Photographer: Linda Pomerantz Zhang

Intimate Live Music Venues

Apart from our spectacular shows, there’s nothing more enchanting than watching a live music act in an intimate venue. You can watch the musicians' faces as they pour out their souls.

This section is sure to hold the perfect venue for you, whether you’re looking to sing karaoke in Santa Monica to a live band, take part in an open mic in a cute, contemporary coffee house, or savor soul music with an ocean view.

8. Rusty’s Santa Monica Pier

Rusty’s Santa Monica Pier offers good food, good drinks, and even better vibes. With karaoke on weekends, it’s the perfect place to meet up with friends for a fun night out.

It stays open until 10 p.m., so you can go on somewhere else afterward or turn in at a reasonable time. We don’t know about you, but our hardworking performers need their beauty sleep.

Rusty's menu is focused on seafood, although options are available for people not keen on fish or other marine delicacies. We love the grilled salmon, served in a simple lemon butter sauce, and the fries are a big hit. Get them with beer-battered shrimp for a grease-fest that will leave you feeling satisfied until morning.

9. LouLou at Santa Monica Place

Ocean views, French-inspired cuisine, and DJs who know exactly what guests want to hear — LouLou at Santa Monica Place has it all! Check out their monthly Spotify playlist to see if it’s your jam, and reserve your table.

The menu reflects the luxurious atmosphere of this trendy spot, with delicacies such as caviar and oysters featured alongside grilled octopus, lobster, and truffle tagliatelle.

10. Unurban

Looking for a friendly and cozy place to hang out? Then head on down to the Unurban Coffee House. The decor is Bohemian, and it’s the kind of place where everyone feels welcome. It's also great for vegans and those who need gluten-free options.

Unurban’s main passion is coffee. All drinks use filtered water for the purest possible taste, and their milk and sweetener options are all-natural, with no artificial additives.

After putting all that care into their coffee, Unurban still has the energy to host an open mic music night every Friday evening. Come along to listen or show off your skills.

11. Harvelle’s

Harvelle’s in Santa Monica claims to be the oldest live music venue on the Westside. It was established in 1931 as a place for live acts to strut their stuff, and we have to say it’s the perfect place for a moody, bluesy evening.

Harvelle’s is open until 2 a.m. every day of the week, and there's always live music to listen to. On Wednesdays, you can sing along with a live band on the bar’s regular karaoke night.

Unique Live Music Venues

From guitar shops to farmers markets, Santa Monica has no shortage of unique venues for live music. However you prefer to experience live music, you'll find the ideal venue to meet your needs.

Photographer: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

12. The Wiltern

Step inside The Wiltern Music Theater to be greeted by the architectural brilliance of Anthony B. Heinsbergen, with murals adorning the walls and zigzag moldings inspired by the sun. Steeped in history, this venue saw Old Hollywood's elite stars, such as Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, gracing its halls in the 1930s.

Today, The Wiltern continues to mesmerize audiences with an eclectic lineup of performers, ranging from multiplatinum pop sensations, such as Miley Cyrus, to legendary rock icons, such as Kasabian.

In recent years, the venue has undergone refurbishments to accommodate larger audiences and even bigger shows. It boasts five levels, including a mezzanine area with two back bars, so you don't have to worry about it reaching capacity before you arrive.

13. The Baked Potato

Everyone loves the cozy warmth of a baked potato fresh from the oven. Established in 1970, The Baked Potato offers a space to listen to live music in comfort, with great food and drinks on tap. A new act graces the stage every night, from moody blues to smooth jazz and heavy rock.

As you might guess from the name, baked potatoes feature heavily on the menu, but salads and desserts are also available. Place your order, slather a dollop of butter on your potato, and get ready for a stellar night of live music.

14. McCabe’s Guitar Shop

Are you tired of listening to live music in restaurants and clubs? What about Santa Monica music venues, where the owners and patrons are likely all musicians themselves? McCabe’s Guitar Shop has been hosting live shows since 1968, allowing musicians to show off their skills in bluegrass, Americana, folk, and more.

The shop’s back room holds 150 seats, preserving that intimate feeling that sometimes gets lost in larger venues. You might just leave here inspired to buy a new guitar or sign up for lessons.

Photographer: Susan Mohr

15. Santa Monica Farmers Market

What better way to spend a lazy Sunday in Santa Monica than to wander around a farmers' market? How about a farmers market with live music? The Main Street Farmers Market in Santa Monica always has live acts to entertain the crowds. Between the food trucks and tunes, it's a glorious treat for all the senses.

16. The Hotel Cafe

The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood has been a mainstay of the Santa Monica live music scene for more than 20 years. Famous musicians like Adele, Katy Perry, Billie Eilish, and Ed Sheeran, all performed here early in their careers.

This venue has two stages. The Main Stage has 40 seats, although the maximum capacity is 215 people, so there's plenty of standing room if you can't find a place to sit. Second Stage is more intimate, with 25 seats and a maximum capacity of 75 people.

You never know which platinum-selling artist you’ll spot there the next time you visit.

Let the Music Play: Your Santa Monica Soundtrack Awaits

With so many opportunities to see live music in Santa Monica, you’re sure to find musical inspiration while exploring this city. There’s nothing quite like a live performance to energize and enthrall. We should know!

Our performers captivate audiences with their acrobatic skills, eliciting gasps and leaving everyone on the edge of their seats. Come on down to one of our shows in Santa Monica and see for yourself. We promise you’ll be mesmerized by the spellbinding combination of music, acrobats, and dance. Let us help you make memories you’ll never forget.

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