Montana Avenue

Think of Montana Avenue as a laid-back alternative to Rodeo Drive. Lining the northwest edge of town, just a few miles from Ocean Avenue, the Santa Monica Pier, and Third Street Promenade, a 10-block stretch boasts more than 150 boutiques and retailers. During the daylight hours the street hums with stylish locals and visitors sipping espressos in chic cafés and browsing at shops from high-end designers—all with a friendly and welcoming vibe. By Robin Jones

Eat

The popular bar at R+D Kitchen is always bustling, and for good reason: The mojitos, greyhounds, Bloody Marys, and other classic cocktails are worth the wait. So are the crispy chicken sandwich, the seared ahi salad, Reubens, and deviled eggs. One of the newest Montana Avenue restaurants on this stretch, Kye’s caters to health-conscious diners with its signature “Kyeritos”: burritos bundled in nori or collard greens rather than tortillas, making them gluten-free and dairy-free. Vegan options abound, but carnivores can sink their teeth into the Nori Burger, featuring grass-fed ground beef mixed with chard and brown rice. On the other end of the spectrum, Father’s Office has been called LA’s original gastropub and serves what many critics and foodies have pegged as the best burger in not only Montana Avenue, but the entire Los Angeles area. Wash it down with one of the 36 rotating craft beers on tap.

Shop

Luxurious sweater coats, cardigans, and cable-knit pullovers hang from the racks at the Margaret O’Leary boutique, a San Francisco–based company that uses Scottish cashmere to make its impossibly soft, cozy knitwear. Kiehl’s Since 1851, which began as an apothecary in New York’s East Village in 1851, specializes in moisturizers, cleansers, toners, and other skin-care products—the blue astringent was a favorite of Andy Warhol. At Pink Chicken, moms can shop for their kids and themselves; the stylish, casual clothing for babies, little girls, tweens, and women mixes bright colors and cheerful patterns for a beachy-chic feel. Find all this and more when you explore Montana Avenue shopping.

Play

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, the Aero Theatre screens independent movies, film-festival winners, classics and releases from up-and-coming filmmakers, often with directors and actors in attendance. A block away, Tara Gallery, run by the American Foundation for Contemporary Iranian Art, spotlights works produced by artists living and working in Iran. Visitors to Aerial Physique can hone their own brand of performance art with a Cirque du Soleil–style workout that involves dangling from long swaths of silk while learning tricks and exercises aimed at toning arms, abs, and legs.

Local’s Tips

Grab some R&R at Cha Spa on Montana Avenue (or one of its other two Santa Monica locations). They offer an amazing 60-minute full-body massage for only $45! Cheese fanatics can check out events like a grilled cheese–and–beer pairing night at Andrew’s Cheese Shop, which also hosts BYOW (bring your own wine) cheese tasting.

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