Santa Monica is home for us, or at least has been the past 2 years. We work from here every single day & are fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the best food, shopping, workouts & more. It’s also a major tourist destination given that it’s located on the beach & is just downright gorgeous. Not to mention it happens to be surrounded by Malibu, the Palisades, & Venice — three of our other favorite spots in LA. Whether you’re local or visiting SM, we threw together a list of our favorite, must-visit spots in town. Enjoy! xx
WHERE TO EAT:
Forma: This cute, little Italian spot on one of our favorite streets in SM always makes you somehow feel like you’re on vacation in Italy but also enjoying a home cooked meal. Our absolute favorite from Forma is their cacio e pepe served in a giant bowl of cheese!
KazuNori: If you’ve visited SoCal you’ve likely heard of Sugarfish, easily one of the best sushi spots in town. Their sister restaurant, KazuNori focuses solely on hand rolls & it is hands (ha!) down the tastiest we’ve ever had. They’re served warm, made right in front of your eyes & come in a variety of flavors. Their communal seating & prime location make it a great lunch spot for in between shopping & the beach. We’ve been known to stop here & snag just one or two rolls mid-afternoon for a snack… Highly recommend.
Backyard Bowls: 90% of the year in Santa Monica feels like summertime which is why Backyard Bowls is one of our favorite spots. Aside from being located seconds from the beach, they serve up some of the yummiest, most refreshing açaí bowls in town. With endless topping options, these healthy bowls taste more like candy than the nutrients you’re actually getting.
Wexler’s Deli: A little slice of NYC in Santa Monica, this deli serves up our favorite matzo ball soup & pastrami sandwiches. We recommend starting your day here & then heading to the beach to post up like a beached whale all afternoon.
Sweetgreen: Thankfully for those of you not in Santa Monica anytime soon, Sweetgreen exists on basically every corner now-a-days. We’re a bit excited over here though as they just opened their latest location on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. All their locations are stunning but this one is truly exceptional. From the adorable tile greeting you on the way in to the spacious dining area, we’ve found ourselves booking every meeting here lately & are back later in the day for dinner. If you’ve been following along on our IG stories then this isn’t news to you but can you blame us? Easy, healthy, affordable meals that leave you full & satisfied, Sweetgreen truly is our home away from home.
Milo & Olive: You know that place you have where you bring every friend who comes in town, plan every girls night at, & always stop for takeout when you just need some good ‘ole comfort food? That’s Milo & Olive for us. You’re guaranteed a meal that’s innovative & unique but also tastes freaking amazing. Always. Our must-haves from M&O are their chopped salad (for when you want to be healthy but not compromise taste…), pepperoni pizza, mushroom pizza, GIANT garlic knot (it’s stuffed with full sized cloves of garlic — see above photo), & any of their baked goods.
Sweetfin: If you follow us on IG, you know just how real our Sweetfin obsession is. Their fish is fresh, the vibes are fun, the price-point is so reasonable, & the staff could not be sweeter. With the amount of toppings they have for their poke bowls it’s basically a froyo shop for fish – aka our dream spot.
Bay Cities: All we have to say about this Italian deli/grocery store is order The Godmother with “the works”. You won’t regret it. It’s arguably the best sandwich in all of LA & so worth the small wait in line they usually have. Tip: come here on off hours to avoid the wait & make sure to bring cash (or a debit card) as they don’t take credit cards!
The Ivy At The Shore: We’ll admit, give us a pink wall & free bubbly upon arrival & we’re instant fans. Such was the case at The Ivy At The Shore. This beachfront spots serves some of the best pasta, salads & desserts in all of LA. It’s a charming atmosphere, one that’s a bit calmer than it’s sister restaurant, The Ivy, which is known for lines of paparazzi out front.
Bondi Harvest: We’ve said it before & we’ll say it again, Bondi Harvest has it all: atmosphere, service, food presentation, cleanliness, & if we’re being totally honest, Instagram-ability. If we’re looking to indulge we go straight for their breakfast burrito however on days when we’re trying to fit into our jeans, we’re big fans of the rainbow bowl or peanut butter bomb smoothie.
R&D Kitchen: Anything Hillstone Restaurant Group does, we’re big, big fans of. They truly can do no wrong in our eyes: fun atmospheres, kind employees, & they’ve completely mastered the all-American menu. You cannot come to R&D without ordering their chicken sandwich. Trust us. It’s that good.
Erewhon: Ok so technically Erewhon is a grocery store but their new SM location boasts a stunning outdoor seating area that gives most typical restaurant patios a run for their money. We love everything they serve up at their hot & cold bars. You can’t go wrong with anything in the store though as it’s all super healthy & equally as delicious.
WHERE TO CAFFEINATE:
Bardonna: If you’re looking for the best matcha latte, naturally sweetened, of course, look no further than Bardonna. Centrally located on Montana Ave. this spot is the perfect place to sit outside & people watch or grab a latte & shop in SM.
Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee: We’ll admit, we’re guilty of coming here solely for the doughnuts but we’ve been told their coffee is equally as good! Try it out & let us know, ok? PS don’t you dare leave there without one of their famous huckleberry doughnuts!
WHERE TO SHOP:
Montana Ave.: You’re probably used to hearing this street by now as some of our favorite restaurants & coffee shops are conveniently located here. Not to mention, it’s home to some of the best boutiques in the world: Shabby Chic for all things home decor, Planet Blue for trendy clothes, Jill Roberts for investment pieces, Brentwood General Store for the best gifts, Clave V for timeless accessories, Flannel for the most special clothing (pictured above), Williams Sonoma for all your kitchen goods, & Burro for all the things you don’t really need but really do need.
Third St. Promenade: While this is a super touristy destination, it’s also a great place to get tons of shopping done. With Nordstrom & Bloomingdales as anchors, you know you’re in good hands here. This outdoor mall is also home to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, one of the best in LA, on Saturday & Wednesday.
Main St.: In our opinion this street is the perfect mix of upbeat tourist vibes & a low-key locals feel. Aka a great combo of the two above streets. Some of our favorite stores on Main include: FP Movement for workout clothes, Audry Rose for jewelry, & Planet Blue for trendy clothes.
WHERE TO DRINK:
The Bungalow: This beach-front bar can get a little rowdy after 4pm on the weekends (yup, you read that right, 4pm 😂) & it is always a good time. Order a spicy marg, listen to some Beach Boys, & play ping pong with some friends while you take in the surf decor & perfect beach views Santa Monica has to offer.
Bodega Wine Bar: In our opinion, Bodega is the perfect date-night spot. It’s also the perfect girls night out spot. We also love their happy hour deals. And we love to bring friends visiting here. Ok fine you guessed it, it’s our favorite bar in Santa Monica. A must-visit, Bodega’s wine & beer list is just as large as their impressive food menu. We highly recommend the bacon wrapped dates & a nice glass of red. Oh & if you happen to have a little too much red, return the next morning for their extensive coffee list during the day.
WHERE TO EXPLORE:
Santa Monica Pier: This iconic spot located in the heart of downtown Santa Monica is a must-visit while in SM. Take a ride on the ferris wheel, stop for some cotton candy & relive your childhood while taking in stunning ocean views.
The Aero Theater: Another Montana Ave. classic, this theater is located in the center of the strip & boasts major throwback vibes with it’s decor. Showing everything from classics such as Casablanca to newly released films Blakkklansman as well as indie films & documentaries, it’s the perfect way to wrap up a fun day of eating & shopping on Montana.
Along The Beach: Take a stroll down to the Santa Monica waterfront & you’ll see one of the most active communities. People training for marathons, walking their dogs, or biking with friends — there’s something for everyone. When looking at the water, if you take a left, you’ll end up in Venice but if you venture uphill to the right, you’ll end up in the Palisades towards Malibu. You truly can’t go wrong with how you spend your time here.
YogaHop: Pop in for a fun yet relaxing class at this upstairs studio on Montana Ave. The music is upbeat & you always leave sweating but wanting more! Our favorite instructors are Kourtney & Matthew.
Temescal Canyon: Located on the north edge of Santa Monica, this hiking trail is the perfect way to break a sweat & take in the stunning views this city has to offer. With a variety of trails, majority of which we think are fairly do-able, you’ll never get bored hiking here.
Santa Monica Stairs: If you’re looking for a killer workout, this one is for you. The Santa Monica stairs are two outdoor staircases of about 200 steps each built into a SM hillside. The views from up top of stunning homes & the Pacific Ocean make the climb worth it. If you drive to the stairs make sure you read the signs carefully when parking as they’re super strict around here!
The Now Massage: Upon entering The Now you’ll likely get lost in their decor & boutique. It’s ok, we do it too. Every single time. Can you blame us? They have the BEST smelling candle & all the wellness goods we didn’t know we needed until now. But what awaits you behind their barn doors is the most relaxing environment in all of Santa Monica. We always get The Now signature massage with deep tissue & aromatherapy add-ons. The CBD balm add-on is also in our rotation for days we are sore or super anxious. Melanie is our go-to gal at The Now but you honestly can’t go wrong with any of their masseuses. Prepare to be beyond relaxed & refreshed after you experience The Now.
Nurse Jamie: The ultimate skincare guru, Nurse Jamie’s clientele includes the Kardashians, Jessica Alba, & pretty much every other celeb you can think of. Aka she knows what she is doing. Stop by her shop on Montana Ave. to snag some exclusive goodies at her boutique (we’re obsessed with this tool) or stay a little while longer & get a treatment by NJ herself!
Olive & June: O&J has totally reinvented the manicure experience. It’s likely you’ve already seen their space along with their major nail art capabilities on Instagram. We recommend coming here whenever you need to treat yo’self, want a fun activity to do with friends, or have girlfriends in town. Is it obvious we spend a lot of time here…? You won’t only leave with the best manicure of your life, you’ll also leave likely with a new BFF (your manicurist) & of course some fun O&J nail art.
WHERE TO STAY:
Shutter’s On The Beach: Even if you don’t stay at Shutter’s you must stop-by for their infamous lobster roll at their beachfront restaurant. If you do have the opportunity to stay here though we highly recommend it. You’ll wake up to the sound of waves crashing, can head downstairs for a quick beach run & then start your day in one of their several restaurants with a guaranteed incredible meal. During the day you have the option to hang by their private pool or explore Santa Monica as their location couldn’t be more central to everything in our guide!
AirBNB: Live like an LA local in one of the many available homes for rent on AirBNB. You’re guaranteed to find something in your price range & can choose exactly which part of town you want to stay in. Two of our favorite homes available are this one & this one.
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