Stretching 12 miles from Downtown Los Angeles to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, Wilshire Boulevard is a kaleidoscope of California culture. You’ll find chef-driven dining hot spots by mom-and-pop bakeries, and generations-old Mexican eateries neighboring Korean barbecues. A smattering of vintage and designer consignment stores make the whole strip a favorite for deal hunters. Join some locals at Douglas Park for a lawn bowling session, and then head to scenic Palisades Park located atop the bluffs and providing a virtual balcony for viewing classic beach sunsets.
Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market’s gourmet offerings, such as the steak BLT, modern tuna melt and vegan banh mi are the makings of a perfect picnic and have garnered the eatery a cult following that lines the street at lunch time. Huckleberry Bakery & Café is the domain of James Beard - nominated pastry chef Zoe Nathan. Since opening the café on Wilshire Boulevard in 2009, she has inspired both a cookbook and a cult-like following willing to stand in line for an addictive assortment of maple-bacon biscuits, cinnamon sugar brioche, and vegetarian croque monsieur. Ingo’s Tasty Diner is no ordinary diner, offering grass-fed burgers, rotisserie chicken and vegetables from local farmers markets. Not surprisingly, tacos dominate the menu at Tacoteca, where a DJ spins on Friday and Saturday nights and jazz is performed during Sunday brunch. But the reinvented taco fare steals the show (think grilled octopus laced with serrano chile - peanut sauce or lamb barbacoa with mint, and dry-aged chorizo). Wash it all down with a dizzying selection of mescal-infused “tonics.”
Forget your bikini? No sweat. California-based retailer Diane’s Beachwear stocks an astonishing lineup of top swimsuits for women, men, and kids, and crucial accessories such as cover-ups, wet suits, and rash guards. If you love a good deal, peruse the offerings at Great Labels and Haute Seconds, two of the top consignment shops on the Westside. Don’t be surprised to score luxury brands such as Chanel and Christian Louboutin up to 90 percent off retail. Print gets a new lease on life at Paper Source, an upscale stationery shop with hand-designed cards and other crafty goods. Don’t miss the too-good-to-pass-up gift ideas. (Emoji pillows!? We can’t even!)
At Douglas Park, toddlers play in the sandbox and frolic on the splash pad, while senior citizens compete in lawn bowling and tennis devotees rally from morning to night. Picnic tables surround the park’s three reflecting pools, which are inhabited by ducks, turtles, and fish. Inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Exhale Spa is a wellness haven where locals and guests enjoy acupuncture, cleansing facials, and detox therapies, as well as yoga, barre, and boot camp classes. The dance floor at Santa Monica institution The Gaslite is always hopping, thanks to a mix of live bands, nightly drink specials and karaoke that’s the talk around town.
Watch a stunning California sunset from one of the many vantage points along Palisades Park, which sits on Wilshire Blvd's beachfront edge.