Like the tides of the Pacific just a few blocks away, Main Street is characterized by a slow shift in personalities: By day, it’s a favorite of the up-at-dawn locals who come for breakfast or coffee after a sunrise surf session. An eclectic collection of laid-back, patio-lined cafés with indie boutiques, and relaxed (and relaxing) salons can easily fill an afternoon for almost any visitor. In the evening, trendy restaurants and watering holes glow with a lively mix of options for nightlife lovers.
Joe Jonas’s restaurant, Hinterland, serves Southern-style seafood with a twist, like shrimp and grits with chorizo and shishito peppers, in a warm, intimate atmosphere. The popular Jinya Ramen Bar focuses on ramen, from tonkatsu (made with pork broth) to chicken and vegetarian varieties. A rotating selection of small-batch craft beers and wines, many of them local, takes center stage at Ashland Hill, but there’s also plenty of great bar food, like the roasted Brussels sprouts and Crispy Cauliflower.
With an abundance of yoga, surf and bike shops, Main Street is an active corner of Santa Monica. Locally owned Bike Attack Electric boasts an unparalleled selection of electric bikes. The surf and skatewear brand RVCA offers beachy clothes for men and women, locally made surfboards, as well as art and photography. The vintage and artisan jewelry at Love Adorned’s first-ever West Coast boutique comes in many different styles, from small and dainty to big and bold.
The Edgemar Center for the Arts encompasses two stages, an art gallery and an acting school that puts on a mix of live shows. The Frank Gehry-designed Edgemar also hosts the main Santa Monica Visitor Information Center, offering knowledgeable staffers, maps, guides, and a selection of Santa Monica-inspired clothing and gifts. At the California Heritage Museum, housed in a Victorian home built in the late 1800s, the exhibits focus on art and culture from the Golden State. There’s no shortage of nail salons on Main Street, but Pinkies Nail and Spa lays on the pampering double-thick: Think cushy hot pink towels, not to mention flawless mani-pedis offered in every color of the rainbow.
Want to feel like you've taken a step back in time? Then, step into Santa Monica's historic City Hall (1685 Main Street) where the art deco interiors are all original.