visiting camera obscura in santa monica – los angeles, california

a fun, free date idea in Los Angeles!

When we were in LA for our California Road Trip this summer, Erik & I stayed in Santa Monica.

We stayed at the Shore Hotel – which was a great location & walked basically right out to the beach!

As Erik & I hit the beach everyday, we noticed the Camera Obscura in Santa Monica – I mean how could you not?! It looked so retro chic, I could not stop taking photos of it.

To be completely honest, I didn’t know what it was so I got on google and was pleasantly surprised to see it was a free attraction!

Basically, when you walk in, they will ask if you are here to see the camera {they have an art lab too}. All you do is sign in and they tell you where upstairs to find it.

Basically, you walk into a room and as you do that, you are walking into the camera! It’s an optical device consisting of a revolving metal turret over a hole in the roof. On the other side, there is an opening that reflects light side. The light then hits a 45 degree mirror and directed through the lens in the dark room. THEN the image is cast on a viewing table in the middle of the room.

The image will be basically everything around the Camera Obscura – in Santa Monica, it was the beach, palms, and sidewalk. Kind of cool to see things happen in real time from such an old camera! I didn’t take any photos inside but you can check them out camera obscura santa monica classes to know what to expect.

& for a little history on it: The Camera Obscura in Santa Monica first opened to the public on April 21, 1898! It was built by Santa Monica Mayor Robert F. Jones. Over the years, it moved around from different beaches, to near downtown LA, then back to Santa Monica. It has been at the Ocean Avenue location since 1955!

Kind of cool to do an activity that many have done decades past. A very interesting & early look into the camera as a whole.

My favourite view was seeing all the palm trees with the retro feel to it. If you go, you’ll know what I mean!

Tips for visiting the Camera Obscura

make sure lights are off when you view & keep them off when you are leaving

to change the perspective, move the wheel in the middle of the room & if you need to focus on individual areas, gently tilt the table

since the camera depends entirely on sunlight, clear days are the best days to visit

the camera is sticking out right above the word “camera”!
lazy luxury

If you are visiting LA or live there, check it out for a free date idea! Hit up the camera obscura, then go have a picnic on the beach for a perfect lil beach day.

Also if you need a Santa Monica recc, Ivy at the Shore is one of my favourite LA restaurants. The Shore location is soooo much better than the Beverly Hills one & the food is just fantastic.

Have you been to a Camera Obscura?? We have one in SF too! more info here

visit the Santa Monica Camera Obscura

1450 Ocean Avenue,
Santa Monica, CA 90401



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  1. 2.6.20

    I just remembered my art high school times! Lovely post 🙂

    xoxo | Mona from