Even as someone who isn’t from the country, I feel like I know Santa Monica. Don’t we all? We know the pier and the carnival rides, and the women that stroll along the beach in the heat of the day selling sliced mango and cheap towels. We know about the 3rd street promenade and the Brandy Melville store and Urban Outfitters and Real Food Daily and Ivy at the Shore.
We all know Santa Monica for its icons, but the truth is, that doesn’t even begin to cover what lies underneath. As entertaining as street performers and dinosaur shaped hedges are, living like a local in Santa Monica can be much more relaxed, laid back and enjoyable than you ever could’ve imagined.
- Montana Avenue – a short drive (or nice walk) from the Third Street Promenade, Montana Avenue is a 10-block strip of 150 quiet and luxurious health stores, beauty hotspots and fashion staples. Offering places such as Benefit Brow & Makeup Bar, Splendid, Planet Blue and an exotic (but fancy) guided meditation and yoga studio.
- Farmers Markets – if you enjoy the affordable organic strawberries and seriously amazing falafels that come to McCarthy Quad every Wednesday, then I highly recommend you check out Santa Monica’s farmers markets, located just near downtown Santa Monica every Saturday — loaded with fresh food and the occasional local business stall, it’s the perfect place to browse the morning away and pick up some lunch before hitting the beach!
- Urth caffe – it’s time to branch out of the same four coffee shops and food stops you’ve made habitual (although I’m sure they’re fab) and explore some new hotspots to treat yourself! Urth Caffe has recently become incredibly popular, particularly for their coffees, teas and beyond decadent desserts…!
- Forty Carrots Frozen Yoghurt – Okay, I know we’re trying to not suggest that you revisit the third street promenade, just for the sake of trying to be local and explorative, but if you don’t know what Forty Carrots frozen yoghurt it, you’re seriously missing out. Located inside Bloomingdales (conveniently on the same floor as the women’s fashion) is their signature cafe Forty Carrots. It sounds crazy, but trust me: go there, get their frozen yoghurt, add your toppings, and never again return to Yogurtland or any other fro-yo store again. There’s no going back.
Another side suggestion – don’t forget to check out Venice, too! It’s just a short walk or beachside bike ride away, and has way more to offer than cheap sunglasses and henna tattoos! Visit Abbott Kinney if you’re after chic stores, classy cafes and a slightly elegant, slightly edgy vibe without all the in-your-face WOW of Venice beach!