Downtown Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade

Downtown Santa Monica is equal parts shopping haven and street-performer stage. Just east of the Pier, the Third Street Promenade consists of three open-air, car-free blocks that are anchored by upscale Santa Monica Place, home to more than 80 retailers. With everything from fresh farmers-market produce to designer fashions, it’s a shopper’s nirvana. Likewise, foodies rejoice in the numerous restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails. Life pulses around each corner with hotel guests, street performers, shoppers, office workers, diners, barflies and moviegoers. Additionally, it’s the terminus of the Metro Expo Line, which ferries riders by light rail between Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles.

Eat

Located in the heart of the Third Street Promenade shopping mecca, The Gallery Food Hall provides a tantalizing mix of indoor and outdoor dining options, from couldn’t-be-fresher fish sandwiches and boardwalk fries served up at STRFSH to the 20-plus-course tasting menu experience offered at Dialogue, an 18-seat restaurant led by James Beard Award-winning chef Dave Beran. Looking for ethnic flair? Sample the mouthwatering pizzas, subs and mozzarella sticks at Paperboy Pizza or an “organic beach taco” at Azulé Taqueria. Finally, indulge your dessert fantasies with a trip to the chandelier-laden Sloan’s ice cream shop—a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue.

Launched in 1947 and spotlighted in the 1973 film American Graffiti, Mel’s Drive-In is an American institution. This new location celebrates Santa Monica’s Route 66 history and offers all of the comfort-food favorites, from burgers, fried chicken and mac and cheese to double-crusted pies and banana splits.

When it comes to deli, accept no substitutes. Wexler's delicatessen stays true to its culinary roots with authentic dishes renamed for the L.A. crowd. Try the MacArthur Park (pastrami, coleslaw, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye) and
you’ll be hooked.

Shop

Featuring more than 200,000 used and new books, CDs, DVDs and gifts in a well-lit, browse-friendly layout, BookMonster is a bookworm’s dream. Buy and sell to your heart’s content as you take advantage of the store’s membership benefits and new-book buyback program.

The national outdoor retail co-op REI is for folks who take their outdoor adventures seriously, and the chain is known as much for its environmental stewardship as it is for its extensive selection of top-notch gear and clothing. Check out the Santa Monica location for classes in rock climbing, mountain biking, travel preparation and more.

Santa Monica Place is a three-level, open-air shopping and dining destination addresses your every need. Shop designer outlets such as Coach, Kate Spade, Rolex and Tiffany & Co.; retail favorites such as Disney, Nike and Spanx; and top-notch department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Enjoy a luxury film-watching experience at the ArcLight Cinemas and indulge your appetite at any of the quality rooftop eateries.

Take advantage of the Santa Monica sunshine with a stroll through Third Street Promenade. Closed off to street traffic, the pet-friendly Promenade is a perfect place to shop, eat and people-watch, plus catch the budding talents of versatile street performers. Specialty retailers abound here: Patagonia, Lululemon, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Wasteland Vintage, just to name a few!

Play

You never know who will drop in on a show night to try out some new material at M.I.'s Westside Comedy Theater. But Westside is more than a club—classes taught by seasoned pros offer the chance to explore and hone your own comedic prowess.

Operating out of a vintage 1910 Craftsman-style house, Santa Monica Conservancy promotes and advocates for the preservation of Santa Monica history. To that end, the Conservancy hosts lectures, workshops, Downtown Santa Monica walking tours and special events for its members and guests.

Housing more than a million artifacts, the Santa Monica History Museum features both permanent and revolving exhibits. Become part of front-page history via an interactive photo station, and experience Santa Monica’s heritage from its Native American roots to its successful foray into aviation.

Small Businesses

In honor of the people, places and experiences that make Santa Monica the premier beach destination it is, we’ve made a mini video series highlighting a sampling of Santa Monica’s small business community and the stories behind the storefronts. Here, we visit The Acorn Store children's store in Downtown Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade.

Your Beachside Escape Awaits
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