Downtown Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade

Downtown Santa Monica is equal parts shopping haven and street-performer stage. Near the Pier, the Third Street Promenade consists of three open-air, car-free blocks that are anchored by upscale Santa Monica Place. With everything from fresh farmers-market produce to designer fashions, it’s a shopper’s nirvana. Likewise, foodies rejoice in the numerous restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails. Life pulses around each corner with hotel guests, street performers, shoppers, office workers, diners, barflies, and moviegoers. New to the mix: The terminus of the Metro Expo Line, opened in 2016, ferries riders by light rail between Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles.

Eat

What happens when four foodies of different heritages open a restaurant? You get this divine, indoor-outdoor gem, Cassia, whose menu fuses Asian and French cuisines with California sensibilities, featuring the best locally grown ingredients. Among its many accolades, Cassia was ranked number seven in Jonathan Gold’s “101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles” list in 2016.

Owned, operated, and run with pride by a long-employed, profit-sharing staff, Fritto Misto serves up generous portions of delectable Italian dishes. An abundance of vegetarian options ensures that no one goes away hungry.

A pioneer of California cuisine, Michael’s is renowned for its top chefs, its celebrity clientele, its art collection, and its elegant dishes showcasing local ingredients. In Fall 2016, the Santa Monica mainstay welcomed new executive chef Miles Thompson, who was recently named a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.

You don’t have to be a clean food devotee to dine at True Food Kitchen, but you just might become one afterward. From the quinoa burger to the chicken sausage pizza, this eatery’s cuisine attracts vegans and carnivores alike for a kumbaya-like experience.

Shop

If you can’t find it at the Mercenary General Store, then maybe you should look again. Peruse the aisles for an eclectic, pop culture–inspired mélange of gifts, books, home goods, and clothes and accessories for all ages and walks of life.

For a true shopping experience, stop in to this flagship store, Ron Robinson. Housed in a former art gallery, the airy, modern space is a showcase for Robinson’s unique lifestyle concept, featuring yoga classes, charity shopping events, and art receptions alongside carefully curated apparel, beauty, and gift lines.

Santa Monica Place, a three-level outdoor mall at the south end of the Third Street Promenade, is home to about 100 restaurants and retail outlets. Avoid toting parcels by taking advantage of the mall’s same-day package delivery service. When you finish shopping, get physical with a free Zumba class in the mall’s Center Plaza, marvel at the latest modern art installation, pick up some new cooking skills at The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories, or view a classic film or newly released movie at the 14-screen ArcLight Cinemas.

Third Street Promenade is an L.A. hub of more than 200 shopping, dining, and entertainment outlets occupies nearly a half-million square feet of space in which to frolic and take in the versatile street performances up and down Third Street. Check out the twice-weekly certified organic farmers markets.

Play

The Laemmle Monica Film Center is lauded for its screenings of independent and art films, and this Downtown Santa Monica location is no exception. Check out the special rates for students and seniors.

Santa Monica Walking Tours are offered every Saturday at 10 a.m., these two-hour walking tours hosted by the Santa Monica Conservancy explore the city’s 130-year civic and architectural journey from wild frontier to modern metropolis.

Whether it’s a cut and color or a full-body massage you crave, Tikkun Holistic Spa, a premier day spa and salon has it all. Visit the therapeutic salt room, then soak in one of Tikkun’s hand-carved stone tubs. Spa-mazing.

Cited as one of the best comedy venues in Los Angeles, Westside Comedy Theater provides plenty of laughs via standup and improv performances most every night, plus a beer and wine bar and no drink minimum.

Local’s Tip

For an abundance of free entertainment, look no further than Third Street Promenade, where street performers fill the air with the sound of drums, guitars and amazing vocals from sun up to sun down.

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