A Shopper’s Tour: Four Ways to See Santa Monica

Jan 28, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Deborah Harter Williams, Food Fun, Travel

by Deborah Harter Williams

Main Street

This shopping district bills itself as “a world away from the ordinary, a block away from the beach.” It’s about a mile long walk from Pico Boulevard south to Navy Street.

The Vibe: Original Santa Monica – eclectic, whimsical, artistic

The Selection: One of a kind boutiques with clothing vintage, imported and green, chochtkes, housewares and perhaps a robot. You can also find a mani-pedi for $25 for a mani-pedi with optional shoulder massage at $1 per minute, the first Starbucks in California and a farmers market on Sunday.

The Find: Jadis. Here you might see a robot, dirigible or Tesla coil in the window. This prop rental house and oddity collection is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes viewing some of the wonders accumulated by Parke Meek over his 86 years. Though he died in 2010, this shop of wonders was still there in December of 2011.

The Nosh: Urth Caffé for outdoor lunch, salads and sandwiches, Lula for Mexican food, art and tequila tasting (family friendly with a couple of picnic tables to accommodate a group.)

Montana Avenue

The Vibe: Small town with gloss. Check out the Aero theatre which offers classic movies, frequently with talks by visiting directors.

The Selection: Clothes for the expecting (2 Chix), the athletic (Lucy), the eclectic (Harari, Chico’s), the casual (Lucky Brands and the sensual (Only Hearts lingerie) as well home decor items.

The Find: Limonaia is one of those places where you can browse until you lose track of time. I laughed out loud at some of the items featuring inspirational and humorous quotes, savored the smell of the candles and picked up and admired any number of cards. Visiting this store will lift your spirits and most likely you will come away with a gift to lift the spirits of someone else.


The Nosh: Blue Plate – healthy comfort food, kids menu, even a baby menu (think puree), smoothies, salads, reasonable prices with a view of the avenue.

Wine opportunity: The Fireside Cellar wine store is worth a trip. It predates the Whole Foods store in which it now presides. Wonderful selection, great gifts and helpful service. Also a lovely place to browse and imagine occasions to go with the different vintages on display.

Third Street Promenade

The Vibe: Streets of New York a la Disneyland. The evening I visited this outdoor mall I saw Sammy Davis Jr. reincarnate in snazzy suit and porkpie hat. He sang, tapped and played the horn. Part of the décor was a 15-foot tall paint can and matching paintbrush, advertising the redo of the MGM Grand.

The Selection:
Many of the big chains are represented here from Anthropolgie to Z Gallerie. Interspersed among the biggies are stores with art and architecture books, jewelry, gifts, clothing and more shoes than you can imagine. With 500 stores, restaurants and a cinema, there is something here for everyone.

The Find: Book, books, books. This is a booklovers paradise – Barnes and Noble, Above the Fold Newsstand, Art and Architecture books, Sci-Fi books and Comic Books. Let the browsing and reading begin.

The Nosh: Tea and cakes at the Tudor House

Santa Monica Place

The newest mall in town features a rooftop dining deck with six restaurants and extraordinary views of city, mountains and ocean.

The Vibe: “Beach chic” meets “Laid-back Luxury”

The Selection: Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Hugo Boss, Barney’s, CB2,

The Find: The new Marketplace addition on the top floor features a cooking school, gelato stand, gourmet chocolates plus kitchen and home accessories.

The Nosh: The cheese bar. Set up like a sushi bar you can request a customized plate of cheese and charcuterie with appropriate wine accompaniment.

Deborah Harter Williams works as a mystery scout, seeking novels that could be made into television. She blogs at Clue Sisters and was formerly a mystery bookstore owner.


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