I had a flight mix-up and ended up in Santa Monica for less than 24 hours and after a few recommendations, I had the best little solo trip.
First stop: My favorite hotel, The PaliHouse. The rooms are little apartments that look like a quirky set from a Wes Anderson movie and the lounge comes with a suspender-ed (and probably mustached) barista to pour you tiny cups of espresso that you could enjoy in their pleasant little courtyard. The hotel is walking distance to the sea, shops, everything you need. There are also cute bikes on scene for a quick whirl. But seriously, this place is the CUTEST.
Second stop: Dogtown Coffee Cute little coffee shop with surfer vibes and really great coffee. I recommend the drink with the condensed milk in it. Speaking of, I'll consume anything with condensed milk, it's a totally underrated treat.
Third stop: The Father's Office Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe it was the friendly couple that invited me on their date, who I laughed with but can't remember their names, maybe I was starving... but this was the best food I've had last year. The best burger I have ever eaten, (which for me, is everything) and the best popsicle I have tasted. So. there's that. I ate here twice, it was that good... thus ended my food tour of Santa Monica as I boarded the plane the next morning.
Fourth Stop: Walk along the beach, go to the pier, take some photos, smell the salty air, watch the palm trees wave... go on the carousel. Why not.