No trip to the beach is complete without the right gear. Yet, stuffing your suitcases with sandy plastic toys and sunscreen—both of which are likely to soil your luggage—is not so appealing. The good news is that Santa Monica has plenty of stores with everything you need for a perfect beach vacation. Plus, a trip out West is the perfect time to purchase a new swimsuit, pair of sunglasses or sandals. By Elizabeth Jenkins
Everything but Water
First things first: your apparel. Whether you want a rash guard with UV protection built in, a flattering bikini or a breezy sundress, Everything But Water is the place to go. Located on the eastern edge of Santa Monica, the 1,200-square-foot boutique offers swimwear for women and kids, plus tote bags, towels and other accessories, such as hats, jewelry and sunscreen to round out your ensemble.
Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals
One of the best ways to experience Santa Monica is by bike, and Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals has twelve locations in Santa Monica and the surrounding area where visitors can rent them cruisers, mountain and electric bikes by the hour or day. They also rent kids’ bikes, tandems and tag-a-longs if you have a child in tow. Or, if you would prefer to stake out a spot in the sand and simply relax, you can opt to rent a beach chairs and umbrella instead.
West Coast Prep is the name of the game at johnnie-o, local fashion designer John O’Donnell’s eponymous line. The brand’s signature motif, a man holding a surfboard, accents every polo shirt, pullover and button-down, and is the West Coast version of a certain recognizable horse. Peppy blue-and-white stripes blanket the walls of the boutique, where fathers and sons can find board shorts and t-shirts for year-round wear.
Sand ‘n Surf
Inside Santa Monica Place is Sand ‘n Surf, a one-stop shop for apparel and footwear—such as Rainbow Sandals and Toms—as well as California-themed gifts and décor. They have a vast collection of souvenirs, from t-shirts and tank tops to mugs and bottles of sand, to remember your stay in Santa Monica. Their selection of luggage may come in handy too, should you need an extra suitcase for the trip home.
ZJ Boarding House
For those wishing to take the plunge, ZJ Boarding House has surfboards, accessories and apparel for men, women and grommets (translation: surfers under the age of 16). Since 1988, ZJ’s, as it’s known to locals, has been a destination for surfers and skateboarders and has grown into a superstore with Billabong and RVCA sister stores next door.