Set just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Main Street stretches nearly a mile, with a unique laid-back collection of restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, and salons. Independent retailers and small, local chains—many with health-focused options—anchor the tree-lined blocks between Pico Boulevard to the north and the city of Venice to the south. On Sundays, families and residents flock to Heritage Square for the bustling farmers market, which features live music, and free valet parking for cyclists. Just two blocks to the west is Ocean Park Beach, a five-acre park just south of the iconic Santa Monica Pier. By Elizabeth Jenkins
There is plenty to choose from when it comes to the restaurants on Main Street, Santa Monica. Dogtown Coffee uses house-roasted beans in a former surf shop once frequented by legendary local skaters Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, and Tony Alva—a.k.a. the “Z Boys of Dogtown.” Feast on breakfast burritos, salads, and panini, and scope some of the original decks ridden by the crew. Stella Barra Pizzeria serves artisan pies with seasonal ingredients such as crispy purple kale, handpicked oregano, and fresh rosemary. Live music, 18 draft beers, and more than 50 international whiskeys are offered at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub. Traditional Emerald Isle fare, such as Guinness beef stew, boxty (potato pancake), and shepherd’s pie, are sure bets, as are lighter options like the “Kaeser” (a kale Caesar salad) and peppered salmon.
Hard-to-find fashion labels and modern home wares stock sister shops Lost & Found and Lost & Found Home on Main St. Santa Monica. One of the few brick-and-mortar shops for popular Japanese lifestyle brand Muji is a treasure trove for everything from stationery to skin care, kitchenware to luggage. Since 1988, ZJ Boarding House has been a destination for surfers, skateboarders, and snowboarders looking for new sticks, goggles, hoodies, or anything else needed to get the job done in style. Bonus: What began as a small shop has grown into a superstore with adventure brands Billabong and Hurley’s flagship stores right next door.
Pick up maps, chat with a travel expert, and shop for souvenirs at the Santa Monica Visitors Center on Main Street Santa Monica inside Edgemar, a striking building designed by architect Frank Gehry. One block south, the California Heritage Museum—set inside the stately former home of Roy Jones, whose father, Sen. John Percival Jones, founded Santa Monica—displays American decorative and fine arts. Families could spend an entire afternoon at Books and Cookies, where dozens of children’s titles line the shelves and enrichment classes include story times, crafts, and “wiggle worm fitness.” Tongva Park, a recent six-acre addition to the city, sits at the northern edge of Main Street and features native plants, picnic areas, a playground, and elevated views of the Pacific.
Live music at The Basement Tavern always makes for a great night out. Tuesday’s Blue Grass Nights are a blast. For some unique style finds, pop into Buffalo Exchange, a hip vintage clothing store that sells new and recycled fashions sourced right from the local community.