Every day from opening until 7:00 p.m., the Misfit hosts a favorite happy hour featuring serious discounts on drinks. Order the signature Misfit cocktail with gin, carpano, and orange bitters. The Misfit Restaurant + Bar: 225 Santa Monica Blvd; 310-655-9800
Huckleberry Café & Bakery
Santa Monica sweethearts Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan have been selling artisanal pastries since 2009. Everything here is handmade, including the almond milk in your morning latte and the preserves spread on your housemade English muffin. Huckleberry Cafe: 1014 Wilshire Blvd; 310-451-2311
The Santa Monica outpost of this popular restaurant chain is a modern, light-filled space with a hearty, no-fuss menu. Whether you’re here for lunch or for dinner, you want the crispy chicken sandwich with vinaigrette slaw. R+D Kitchen: 1323 Montana Ave; 310-395-3314
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen
For an upscale dinner, book a table at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, where a daily menu offers thoughtful, seasonal plates. We love the polenta with fresh ricotta and strawberry-pine nut sofrito, as well as the local, grass-fed hanger steak with green garlic and marrow butter. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar: 1119 Wilshire Blvd; 310-393-7050
Chef Sang Yoon’s gastropub is best known for the so-called Office Burger: a dry-aged beef burger with arugula, blue cheese, onion compote, and sweet bacon. Families should note that Father’s Office is strictly for patrons 21 and up. Father’s Office: 1018 Montana Ave; 310-736-2224 (no website)
An elegant string light, pendant lamp, and tea light-lit patio—complete with fire pits and fountains—is the highlight of Wilshire Restaurant. The menu prominently features New American fare like a tomahawk pork chop with braised fennel. Wilshire Restaurant: 2454 Wilshire Blvd; 310-586-1707
Milo & Olive
Get baked goods in the morning and wood-fired pizzas in the afternoon at Milo & Olive restaurant. (We love the roasted potato pizza with caramelized onion, parmesan, and rosemary cream). Milo & Olive: 2723 Wilshire Blvd; 310-453-6776
Bread & Porridge
Breakfast aficionados will love Bread & Porridge, which focuses on pancakes, omelets, and waffles (you can get salads and bowls of pasta if you’re more of a lunch-person). But you really should try the pancakes, which come stuffed with chocolate chips, fresh blueberries, or a mix of bananas and pecans. Bread & Porridge: 2315 Wilshire Blvd; 310-453-4941
Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
Split small sharing plates (black truffle risotto arancini, Monterey-style calamari, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus) while lingering over a bottle of line. Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: 1736 Ocean Park Blvd; 310-397-9007
Thyme Café & Market
Owned by Chef Maire Byrne—the woman behind Local Kitchen and Wine Bar—Thyme Cafe & Market is an approachable neighborhood spot that serves everything from pre-made to-go dishes (kale and sweet potato enchiladas; asparagus with lemon parsley gremolata) to a full-service dinner. Thyme Cafe & Market: 1630 Ocean Park Blvd; 310-399-8800
Gourmet Food Truck Lot
On Tuesday nights, food trucks line up by the California Heritage Museum for a weekly food truck fest. Grab a picnic blanket and find a spot on the museum’s lawn to enjoy the different mix of food trucks selling a range of cuisines. Regular options include seafood tacos from The Surfer Taco, and coconut curry and samosas from India Jones Chow Truck. California Heritage Museum: 2612 Main Street; 310-392-8537
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
Looking for a sweet treat? Stop by Sidecar for Santa Monica’s favorite scratch-made doughnuts, which range from traditional buttermilk cakes with a vanilla bean glaze to unusual confections like huckleberry, country ham and egg with a basil hollandaise sauce, and gluten-free Saigon cinnamon crumb. Get yours with a cup of coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, house-made soda pop or sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee: 631 Wilshire Blvd; 310-587-0022
Gilbert’s El Indio Restaurant
A local haunt that serves south-of-the-border dishes in an informal atmosphere, Gilbert’s is the place to come for pitchers of frozen margaritas, chile rellenos, salsa-topped carne asada—and did we mention the margaritas? Gilbert’s El Indio: 2526 Pico Blvd; 310-450-8057
Keep a lookout for local Los Angeles celebrities while dining on Southern-style plates (shrimp and grits, grilled corn skillet) or slurping down a half dozen oysters. Hinterland: 2917 Main Street; 310-399-0805 eat
O’Brien’s Irish Pub
Watch the game (NBA playoffs, NHL, MLB) or play Monday night trivia at this classic Irish pub. Sports fans, be warned: this bar is a safe space for New York Giants fans. O’Brien’s Irish Pub: 2226 Wilshire Blvd; 310-829-5303
Fans of Charles Bukowski will love this 1960s-inspired bar, built as an homage to the eccentric writer. You don’t come here to eat (the menu includes White Castle sliders and potato chips). Instead, patrons of Barkowski come here to sip one of the nearly 50 beers available in bottles, cans or on tap. Barkowski: 2819 Pico Blvd; 310-998-0069
The Daily Pint
At the intersection of Pico Boulevard and 23rd Street is The Daily Pint, which claims to have the largest collection of single malts on the West Coast. Come here for a stiff pour, a whiskey tasting, and classic bar games like foosball and pool. The Daily Pint: 2310 Pico Boulevard; 310-450-7631
Santa Monica Brew Works
Sample Santa Monica’s only locally-brewed beer at Santa Monica Brew Works in the brewery’s new tasting room. Names like Surf Ninja Imperial Stout and 310 California Blonde Ale embody the city’s laid-back spirit. Santa Monica Brew Works: 1920 Colorado Ave; 310-828-7629
The Buffalo Club
Be transported across the country to Buffalo in this classic restaurant and bar, which nods to Prohibition-era New York state. Hudson River school landscapes, a lush garden courtyard, and hand-crafted cocktail classics (Corpse Revivers, Sazeracs, Hemingway-style daiquiris) are highlights of a night at The Buffalo Club. The Buffalo Club: 1520 Olympic Blvd; 310-450-8600
Dining Around Town
Shopping in Santa Monica
Santa Monica Place
At this upscale shopping complex, visitors will find everything from Bloomingdale’s and a Louis Vuitton storefront to frozen yogurt shops and a cinema. Santa Monica Place also hosts regular events and activities, including a kids club and free Zumba classes. Santa Monica Place: 395 Santa Monica Place
Third Street Promenade
An upscale shopping, dining and entertainment district, Third Street Promenade covers a three mile area in Downtown Santa Monica. It also hosts regular community events, including a wine auction (and tasting) a Healthy Kids Day, complimentary yoga, and comedy shows.
Travelers seeking Santa Monica’s upscale side should head directly to Montana Avenue, famous for its ultra-luxury shopping and high-end dining options. More than 150 boutiques, retailers and cafes line the ten-block stretch. Come here for local brands and shops like Rosemarie McCaffrey Antiques & Interiors and Moondance Jewelry Gallery.
This stretch of Santa Monica is known for having a laid-back, beachy surf vibe. Running nearly a mile, Santa Monica’s Main Street is home to boutiques selling excellent vintage finds, sunglasses, and organic products for children.
New improvement projects have filled Pico Boulevard with vibrant murals, and have attracted a fun mix of music venues, storefronts, and restaurants. Compared to Santa Monica’s more established shopping streets, the revitalized Pico is a whimsical and youthful destination.
Shopping Around Town
Santa Monica Museums & Culture
Bergamot Station Arts Center
A train-station turned creative-complex, Bergamot Station houses twenty more than 40 galleries and cultural institutions. The multi-use space is also home to regular artistic events. Bergamot Station: 2525 Michigan Ave; 310-453-7535
The Getty Center
Architect Richard Meier’s iconic concrete and steel circular building holds a world-renowned collection of artworks, ranging from contemporary sculptures to illuminated manuscripts and photographs. Visitors will also enjoy the sweeping gardens and views of Los Angeles. The Getty Center: 1200 Getty Center Drive; 310-440-7300
The Getty Villa
Unlike Meier’s ultra-modern Getty Center, the Getty Villa is designed to look like a first-century Roman country house. Fittingly, the collections include ancient Greek and Roman art and antiquities dating back nearly 7,000 years. The Getty Villa: 17985 Pacific Coast Highway; 310-440-7300
Santa Monica History Museum
Dig into Santa Monica’s unique heritage with an interactive timeline, collections of archival photographs and artifacts (the city’s first newspaper, for example), and a rotating mix of exhibits. Tributes to the Santa Monica native, Shirley Temple, are frequent. Call in advance to schedule an informative group tour.Santa Monica History Museum: 1350 7th Street; (310) 395-2290
Camera Obscura Art Lab
Arts and crafts are definitely not just for children. At the Camera Obscura Art Lab, adults can get involved in workshops, classes and cultural programs. Learn to knit or dance the samba, take a watercolor class or practice printmaking. Camera Obscura Art Lab: 1450 Ocean Ave; 310-458-8644
The Broad Stage
Catch a show at this 500-seat-theater, which has hosted performers ranging from Lil Buck to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Whether you’re interested in opera, poetry, lectures, or hip-hop, you can probably find something to suit your interests live at The Broad. The Broad Stage: 1310 11th St; 310-434-3200
18th Street Arts Center
Public talks, block parties and art workshops are just a few of the ways visitors can enjoy their time at the 18th Street Arts Center. When there isn’t a special event on the calendar, visitors can peruse the center’s public galleries. 18th Street Arts Center: 1639 18th Street; 310-453-4347
Arts & Culture Around Town
Santa Monica Attractions
Santa Monica Pier
For more than a century, Santa Monica’s iconic pier has been one of the city’s most famous destinations. Come here for a turn on the Ferris wheel at the amusement park, take a free historic walking tour along the Pacific, go fishing, or grab a bite at one of the popular food trucks. Santa Monica Pier: 200 Santa Monica Pier; 310-458-8901
Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica State Beach stretches for more than three miles, and is known for its soft, golden sand. In addition to sunning and swimming, visitors can check out the chess park and the original Muscle Beach just south of the pier. Santa Monica State Beach: 310-458-8300
Marvin Braude Bike Trail
Starting in Los Angeles’ Pacific Palisades neighborhood and ending at Torrance County Beach, this 21-mile-long paved trail links some of the most iconic sights in Santa Monica. In addition to cyclers, the path is available to visitors exploring by foot or rollerblades.
For the best views of Santa Monica Bay, head to this 26.4 acre park between Colorado Avenue and Adelaide Drive. The Pacific-facing park is filled with public artworks, picnic areas, and a fragrant rose garden.
This popular green space was once the site of a film studio, and later, a small airfield. Today, visitors will find ample diversions at this neighborhood park, including twin tennis courts, a playground for children, and three reflecting pools, in addition to picnic tables and benches.
Santa Monica Farmer’s Market
Santa Monica is home to four year-round farmer’s markets, which can be found on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Arizona Avenue in Downtown; on Saturdays in Virginia Avenue Park; and Sundays on Main Street. In addition to fresh Southern California produce, community events and culinary demonstrations are common at the farmer’s markets.
If it’s day two of vacation and you’re already tired of plopping yourself on the beach with a good book, there are plenty of ways to stay active in Santa Monica. Learn to surf like a local by signing up for lessons at one of these great Santa Monica surf schools. Most of these spots offer group lessons, so grab your honey or your friends and face the inevitable wipeouts...