Just steps from the Pier, Santa Monica’s 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, Downtown Santa Monica is a shopper’s nirvana. Likewise, foodies rejoice with numerous restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails. Around each corner, life pulses with hotel guests, street performers, shoppers, office workers, diners, barflies, and moviegoers. New to the mix: The terminus of the Metro Expo Line, which ferries riders by light rail between Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles.
Family-owned northern Italian restaurant Locanda del Lago has delighted customers with its authentic cuisine - such as tagliatelle alla Bolognese - since 1991. For more Italian flavor, head to Stickhouse for gelato or fruit sorbet on a stick, plus gelato bonbons, cakes, and pops. Design your own heart-healthy meal at Sweetgreen, or select from locally sourced menu items such as the Rad Thai, with organic arugula and citrusy shrimp, or the Kale Caesar, loaded with roasted chicken and fresh lime. Sonoma Wine Garden evokes the feel of a wine-country picnic thanks to a lush rooftop deck, which happens to boast ocean views. Mediterranean-inspired dishes feature local organic produce, while the wine list is stacked with Sonoma and Napa Valley favorites.
With its unique restaurants and beloved chains like Lululemon, Converse, and Banana Republic (just to name a few), the pedestrian-only, outdoor shopping district Third Street Promenade is a bona fide destination. But the surrounding streets also hold specialty boutiques worth seeking out - retailers like Design Within Reach and Goorin Bros., are just around the corner. At the southern end of Third Street, the open-air Santa Monica Place comprises nearly 100 shops, from Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom to Tory Burch and Tiffany & Co. A concierge service will even deliver your shopping bags back to your hotel. Nearby on Fifth Street, local favorite RON ROBINSON woos customers to its iconic storefront, offering men’s, women’s, and children’s attire, along with coveted designer brands.
Explore the city on wheels with a two-hour, half-day, or full-day bike rental from Santa Monica Bike Center, or reserve one of the center’s city tours focused on urban farming or street art. Step into 106-degree heat at Sweat Yoga, a music-driven, athletic studio where you’re guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Afterward, stroll the Promenade and marvel at the multitude of street performers, or pull up a bench for some good-old-fashioned people watching. Prepare to laugh at hidden gem M.i. Westside Comedy Theater, where veterans like Judd Apatow, Chris Tucker, and Howie Mandel have all dropped by. At the Santa Monica History Museum, peruse interactive exhibits like the touch screen “Then and Now” display or a replica interior of a Donald Douglas aircraft. And on Saturdays, Santa Monica Conservancy offers fascinating, two-hour walking tours, which illuminate more than 130 years of SoCal history. Topics range from film lore and architecture to an old saloon that served as the town’s first city hall.
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.