Eclectic, diverse, funky, happening—Ocean Park is all of the above, and more. Set at the southeastern edge of the city and linked directly to the beach, Ocean Park Boulevard boasts an authentic local vibe, a crop of talked-about restaurants, and “Where did you get that?!” boutiques and shops. Accentuated by spacious Clover Park, the neighborhood is also home to the Santa Monica Airport and its dynamic aviation museum, the Museum of Flying. The airport’s observation decks, eco-friendly gardens, and twice-monthly antiques market are also big draws.
Crimson is the place to go for fresh and inspired Mediterranean fare. With kebab plates, wraps, tabbouleh, and hummus, it’s hard to hold back when ordering. But save room for a treat from the dessert case; the pleasant dining room, with weathered wood and exposed brick, inspires lingering.
This cozy Italian bistro, Local Kitchen + Wine Bar, is committed to high-quality local ingredients. The Neapolitan-style pizzas from the wood-burning oven are the stars of the seasonal menu and pair perfectly with small-batch cocktails.
Unapologetically hearty breakfasts are dished up in The OP Cafe, a vintage bungalow at this beloved local institution, owned by lifelong Santa Monica residents who opened the café in late 1996. Go for the fluffy pancakes, breakfast burritos, and spicy scrambles delivered by smiling servers at friendly prices.
From the chef-owner of Local Kitchen + Wine Bar, Thyme Cafe & Market is a deli case of prepared picnic fare entices, while the folks behind the counter take soup, salad, and sandwich orders at this popular wine-and-dine meet-up spot. Bring the family for a casual meal in the modern, airy space—and grab a chocolate sea-salt cookie on the way out.
This fashion trailblazer trades in sophisticated separates from international designers. Find of-the-moment pieces like Campomaggi leather handbags and Avant Toi cashmere at Minnie T's.
Find a unique gift (or treat yourself) at the up-and-coming shopping scene at 18th and Ocean Park. Brook Rodd’s lovely boutique is ground zero for Cali-chic women’s clothing, Goods specializes in handmade eco-friendly items from around the world, and Rumba will fulfill all your hipster houseware needs.
This adorable boutique from the owners of Thyme Cafe brings unique children’s items into the Ocean Park Avenue mix. With everything from toys and books to puzzles and PJs, you can find charming gifts for kids of all ages at Quinnie & B.
Head over to Cardio Barre for a ballet-inspired workout that will get your body “en pointe.” The friendly studio offers a one-hour class, a 45-minute floor session, and a 35-minute class for the time-crunched.
If you’re in the mood for active play, head to Clover Park, a multi-block park which offers baseball, softball, and soccer fields; tennis and volleyball courts; a fitness course; and two playgrounds for the kids. Warmer temperatures bring out picnickers; call to reserve a grill in advance.
Check out vintage aircrafts up close and personal at this Santa Monica Airport gem, the Museum of Flying. The nearly 22,000-square-foot warehouse houses about two-dozen aircraft, a flight simulator that rolls and pitches 360 degrees, and an interactive area where kids can climb into a cockpit.
Every seat in the house is a great one at the intimate Ruskin Theatre at the Santa Monica Airport, regarded as one of the best off-the-beaten-path playhouses in L.A. Bonus: Ticket prices are reasonable and parking is free.
Westside bargain hunters compete with antique dealers at Santa Monica Airport Outdoor Antique & Collectible Market, a bimonthly outdoor market, where you can score vintage treasures at the best prices. Open the first and fourth Sunday of every month, it’s always an eclectic scene.