Santa Monica, CA

#5. Santa Monica

Thanks to its abundance of sun, sand and surf, Santa Monica, CA, is a dream destination for many people. However, it’s also a smart choice for those in search of a cool career, making it a top spot for those on a post-college job hunt.

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Los Angeles, the beachfront city of Santa Monica has a diverse business community that includes major employers such as Universal Music Group, Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. and Activision Publishing — perfect for folks looking to work in the music and entertainment industry — along with an array of job opportunities in the tourism, governance, education, medicine and research fields.

Santa Monica also has a high number of residents between ages 22 and 29, giving new college grads plenty of networking opportunities, and it’s home to a seemingly endless array of fun things to do. For example, there’s Santa Monica State Beach, which includes the city’s popular pier, a 26-mile bike path that stretches from the pier to Venice Beach, plus the Third Street Promenade, an alfresco attraction in the downtown area with shops and eateries galore.

Known as one of the best stand-up and improv comedy clubs in the area, Westside Comedy Theatre is another favorite downtown Santa Monica destination. Looking for nightlife? Downtown Santa Monica has that, too, with must-visit places like Harvelle’s Blues Club — a storied spot that’s been drawing crowds since 1931 – and The Bungalow, a fun bar at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

See where Santa Monica ranked on our Top 100 Best Places to Live.

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