Travel Inspirations : Chic-Enomic Santa Monica

July 19, 2015 • Destinations • Views: 2626

Santa Monica conjures up images of shiny, West Coast glamour, a place of youthful optimism and old movie star money.  For the mother of all road trips, it’s the end of the line where the Pacific Ocean intersects the fabled Route 66.  It’s where celebrities cycle and jog the broad foreshore, leave organic cafes clutching take-away triple soy lattes and shop from farm gate to plate at the twice-weekly farmers market.  So Santa Monica must be expensive, right?  Well not necessarily.  We discovered that you don’t need a big budget to slip into the Santa Monica celebrity lifestyle and you never know who you’ll run into!

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Fit & Fabulous

Keeping fit is de rigeur here and there’s no shortage of bike hire shops along the foreshore where locals cycle the meandering South Bay Bicycle Trail that cuts a swathe through the broad stretch of creamy sand.   Bang on trend, Soul Cycle is a high intensity spin class that will set you back $20 plus the chance to pedal alongside the rich and famous.  In Santa Monica, yoga and pilates are public fitness displays so don’t be shy and roll out the yoga mat.  A pampered pooch looks on as a trio of young women in dazzling exercise gear practice Downward Dog along Pallisades Park under clusters of slender palm trees overlooking the Pacific’s milky blue waters.  Celebs are often seen jogging the well-trod wooden steps from San Vincente St down to Entrada as their morning workout routine or hiking the Temescal Canyon Trail with its sweeping vistas.  And then there’s the beach, all 5.6 glittering kilometres of it with fields of volleyball nets and the chance to surf at Go Surf LA.  On Santa Monica’s century-old Pier, its honky-tonk amusements and giant ferris wheel have been joined by a trapeze school but one of the finest pieces of civic design has to be the $30m Annenberg Community Beach House set bang on the beach.     With its exclusive country club vibe,  the architectural style is Jay Gatsby with a modernist twist and it’s the place to hang.  Just remember to reserve your lane well in advance ……

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Fit for Foodies

In a town where size 0 is the new normal, SM isn’t afraid to break new food trends blending hip with healthy.  Huckleberry Cafe is the perfect breakfast pit stop with more than a sprinkling of celebrity star-dust amongst those queuing for the freshly baked breads and pastries.  The Grateful Bread on Montana Avenue has good coffee and sandwiches or order the Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities Italian Deli –  it’ll keep you going all day!   Sweet Rose Creamery’s menu of small homemade batches of ice creams and sorbets change daily based on what’s fresh from the local farmers market and later, join the crowd at Father’s Office on Montana, a casual eaterie famous for delicious burgers ($12.50) and selection of over 45 unique beers starting from $5.  Santa Monica Place was designed by Frank Gehry and above the luxury brand stores and designer jewellers, an expansive wrap-around terrace on the third level offers an egalitarian food court with million-dollar Pacific views.  Where better to stretch out in the sun listening to DJs before checking out restaurants like the popular Zengo and M.A.K.E. aka Matthew Kenney where eager staff in a glass walled kitchen are busy “crafting the future of food” for you to enjoy in the marketplace café.

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Window Shop

Window shopping is free and you’ll get your money’s worth along Montana Avenue, a 10-block open air retail theatre filled with chic stores.  Main Street has enough inexpensive local womens’ boutiques to satisfy any fashion addict’s craving including Varga, Free People, Monkie and Clever while guys can shop fearlessly at Jean Bar and ZJ Boarding House.  Even more enjoyable is the prospect of star spotting while nursing a coffee or cocktail as Santa Monica’s celebrity residents shop the nearby 3rd Street Promenade that runs from Wilshire to Broadway.  Look out for the Apple store that resembles a glass ceilinged aircraft hangar while the bi-monthly Santa Monica Airport Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market runs the gamut from trash to treasure.

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The $20 Makeover

Kim Kardashian may well spend thousands a year on personal grooming but look what a tiny $20 can buy.  At Demalogica on Montana Avenue, a 20-minute Microzone facial costs just $20.  At Blowouts by Benefit, get your hair styled from $20 or splurge on $50-worth of Benefit Cosmetics and be transformed by a 30 minute professional make-up application.  Cha Spa on Montana’s 30 minute foot reflexology massage starts at just $20 while Bellacures offers customers organic and vegan procedures including a classic manicure for $20.  Cheap AND chic!

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Happiest of Hours

Across town, Santa Monica celebrates its sizzling sunsets in style.  A $5 glass of wine at The Penthouse at The Huntley offers amazing views of coast and ocean.  Coast at Shutters offers $4 imported beers, $1.50 fish tacos, Ahi tuna for $5 and half-dozen oysters for $9 Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7pm or join the cool crew at Loews Hotel during the week for their ‘6 at the Beach’ happy hour at the Papillion Lounge.  Sit poolside, fireside or bar-side and enjoy $6.60 chef’s creations washed down with killer cocktails.

And for a chic-enomic finish to the day, check out a classic or arthouse movie at the tiny Aero Art Deco theatre for $11 a ticket before heading for the El Chameclass Ceviche Truck parked on 11th St and Colorado Ave Monday to Saturday for the best shrimp ceviche in LA.

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