As Indian summer in SoCal continues well into October, and tourist crowds are thinning, now is a great time for a beachy staycation. While Santa Monica is just a hop-skip and a jump away from central LA, it's coastal climate offers a refreshing breather from the temps near my West Hollywood Casita. So when the heat gets too much, my man and I pop over to Santa Monica for a weekend or even just a night (not too far) away.
WHERE TO STAY
As the name suggestions, this boutique hotel is located about as close to the ocean as you can get. L and I snagged a suite with breathtaking views and a private balcony for taking them in. If you can't make it the few steps down to the beach, the bean shaped pool (pictured) is an easy alternative, though I would highly recommend venturing to the sand! If you’re not in the mood to get your feet wet at all, hop on the hotel's free beach cruisers and bike along the coastline for miles.
CHANNEL ROAD INN
While I haven’t had the chance yet to stay here myself, this darling bed and breakfast tops my wish list. Their “bountiful breakfast buffet includes loads of gluten free selections, and the option to have it delivered to your room for only 10 bucks. They even allow guests to store their own food in the refrigerator if they’re on a special diet. So. LA.
While I can’t personally vouch for this one (yet) either, The Georgian’s gorgeous turquoise, art deco exterior always catches my eye. Ocean views abound, which even non hotel guests can enjoy by dining or drinking at the Georgian’s restaurant, Veranda.
WHERE TO EAT
PRIMO PASSO COFFEE
Bright, airy and relaxed : 3 words I love to associate with my morning coffee joint, and Primo Passo has them all. So mom n’ pop, they don’t even have a proper website (just a Facebook page!). Their iced cold brew will sky rocket you through your beach day, and the Pistano...well, just try it. With care and quality like this, it’s beyond me how Starbucks stays in business across the street (yet they’re always busy. Le sigh!)
For a healthy lunch, head over to 2nd street to Flower Child. Veggie lovers, Paleo people, Gluten Free folks and hungry humans of all kinds will find something on this casual menu. Great to grab & go for a picnic in the sunshine too.
While The Bungalow bar is a guaranteed sh*t show pretty much any time of day, the lobby lounge of the classic Fairmont Hotel is a little oasis. Grab a spot near the fountain and fire pits around 5 and enjoy a classic aperitivo complete with olives and snacks worthy of any bar in Italy.
SHUTTERS ON THE BEACH
There are several restaurants within this beautiful boutique hotel (also a wonderful place to stay!) but my favorite thing to do is grab a drink before or after dinner and listen to the live music in the living room bar. Sunset from the porch is dreamy, and cozying up by the fireplace when the coastal breezes blow in well… you had me at hello.
Here’s where to go for a proper dinner of farm-to-table, California fresh meal in a gorgeous open space. An ever changing menu inspired by farmer's market ingredients, they hit all the buzzwords… local, sustainable, seasonal...and delicious.
WHAT TO DO
Obvi. There are loads of places to enter from the street to the water, though if you can find one of the wooden walkways, I find them more charming than the cement bridges. Some areas have beach shacks for grabbing refreshments, but the beach itself is wide so even those can feel like a chore to reach. I recommend packing lunch before venturing out onto the sand. (Like maybe ... a salad from Flower Child or a bowl and dips from Cava!)
Yes, it is tourist central, but also… a California beach classic. You’ll find the expected funnel cakes, ship-in-a-bottle souvenirs and a ferris wheel which can be cute especially at sunset or nighttime. Skip the fish shacks promising the “best clam chowder” in town, unless you want to go just for the kitch. That is definitely allowed :-)
The coastal cafes and 3rd Street Promenade tend to draw the attention, but Montana Ave is where you can find more Santa Monica residents on the weekend. 150 boutiques and restaurants line the 10 block street, so it’s worth just having a stroll. If retro movie theaters are your thing (they are mine) The Aero has been showing 70mm classics since 1940.
This street stretches from Santa Monica to Venice and is another slightly under the radar alternative to Venice’s Abbot Kinney (or 3rd Street Promenade, which is honestly just a mall). My favorite jewel in the strip is easily Love Adorned. But it’s also a cute place for a nighttime stroll thanks to the bulb lights traversing the street overhead.
WHAT TO KNOW
It’s the beach, so the weather can turn on a dime. Hot and sunny one minute, breezy and 60 the moment the sun sets! Bring a sweater - even if you can’t possibly imagine needing it when you’re driving through central LA.
Traffic can be nothing short of a nightmare out here. I once spent 45 minutes just waiting in line to get OUT of a parking garage. I’d recommend using Uber and Lyft as much as possible to avoid a headache.
Street parking isn’t impossible, but it’s crucial to read the signs carefully. Santa Monica traffic cops are notoriously unforgiving, so keep that in mind when planning your transpo from drinks to dinner and afterward…
PHOTOS BY Cala3reeze
LUGGAGE BY AWAY