North America Travel · March 22, 2019

Santa Monica City Guide | AD

Post in collaboration with Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

IT’S HERE! After heading across to sunny Santa Monica at the end of January, my guide- packed with some of my favourite spots in the city, is here. Having visited twice before it’s firmly become one of my favourite places to stay in Los Angeles, and always feels like somewhere that balances a beautifully laid back lifestyle as well as plenty to soak up and see too. Now, if you’ll grab some trainers and apply some SPF- we’ve got some sightseeing to do…


Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows:

For the perfect balance of modern luxury and old-school glamour, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is the place to stay. We were incredibly lucky to stay here during our trip, and after hearing that Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, President John F. Kennedy and Barbara Streisand have all been huge fans, I was confident it would make the cut (ahem). Staying in one of the bungalows, we were spoilt with TWO BATHS, beautiful balconies and a television that seemingly had a HBO channel that only showed rom-coms. Honey, I’m home.

With the Fairmont also boasting home to local favourite restaurant, Fig- we managed to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner here- with the bread balloon coming up tops each time. The hotel is also home to The Bungalow, a beautiful boho-surf inspired bar that’s apparently one of ~the~ hip places to hang out and be seen- and according to us, get great virgin cocktails and tacos too. It’s truly a hotel with so much under it’s belt, and even on our last day when we were greeted with stormy weather- there’s options for the spa, salon and many spots to cosy up with your laptop- meaning there really is so much more than just a comfy bed under this big and beautiful roof.


Milo & Olive:

For locally sourced, fresh and delicious food, look no further than Milo & Olive (and it’s sister café Huckleberry too)! Although its stone-baked pizza is highly raved about, it was brunch we came for- and completely devoured their breakfast sandwich, homemade seeded granola and polenta and poached eggs. With long communal tables and endless freshly home baked treats to add to their arsenal, it’s truly a special spot in the community and somewhere for reliably tasty dishes.

Sidecar Donuts:

Much like a good Italian, it seems whenever I go I seem to gravitate to a great doughnut spot too. With Doughnut Vault being my last memorable doughnut treat across the pond, we’d heard lots of wonderful things about Sidecar from locals, and quickly marked it as somewhere to go for an afternoon snack. After ordering their old fashioned classic of buttermilk and cinnamon, topped with vanilla bean glaze- we knew we’d leave happy. With flavours including maple bacon and basil EGGS BENEDICT (I KNOW)- you can guarantee you’ll try something new and one of a kind here.


We’d heard so many brilliant things about Urth in Santa Monica that I couldn’t not include it. If you’re after a perfect central coffee spot in Santa Monica (and ample people watching opportunities) this has to be your spot- P.S gluten free pastries too!


With delicious fresh food inspired by Marseille and with notes of French, Italian and Moroccan flavours- this spot has a varied, sharing menu with some incredible pasta mains worth heading into town for (and I know a good pasta dish when I see one)!

Seeing & Doing:

The Pier:

What’s a trip to Santa Monica without heading to the incredible pier? Whether you head to Pacific Park for some ~srs~ adrenaline junkie time, or grab a cocktail in time to watch the sunset (as you can imagine, I highly recommend this one)- there’s truly a reason this spot is so iconic it marks the end of the historic Route 66.

Bergamot Station:

If you’re an art lover after something a little off the beaten track, Bergamot Station and it’s beautiful selection of art galleries are a must visit. Although we mainly nosed around Skidmore Contemporary Art, there are so many varied spots here (including Lilla Bello, a flower shop that produces arrangements for many of Hollywood’s major studios) with some wonderfully unique pieces, which make for such a lovely way of indulging in some local culture.

Beach Yoga:

Having attempted yoga many times (attempted being the key word here), I was pretty sure it wasn’t something I’d ever really be good at. On our first morning, we woke up to a pre-7am misty start and headed down to the oceanfront for a beach yoga session with Beach Yoga SoCal. Now- I’ll be honest when I say I had very little expectation of how this would be different to my many other dabbles at yoga. But- as the sun burnt away the mist, the sea rolled in by our feet the surfers bobbed on their boards and we sat stretching on the sand- really it couldn’t have been a more perfect start to the day. Not only was the session calm and relaxed- but it made me feel capable and I even ended up doing a whole flow on my own (as did Joe)! I normally have no idea how all of these movements connect, but by the end I was left feeling ready for the day and hugely proud of myself too!

Santa Monica Farmers Markets:

If you happen to be in Santa Monica on a Wednesday or Saturday- make note of the local farmers market taking place along Arizona Avenue. With over 75 traders, there’s plenty of opportunities to sample some fresh delicacies, or even grab a healthy snack for the road and give you total ‘yes, I am local, thanks for asking’ vibes.

Perry’s Beach Butler Service:

If you really want to go to town on the fancy- may I recommend heading to Perry’s Beach Cafe and partaking in their Beach Butler service for ultimate seaside luxury. With chairs, a brolly and cool drinks served directly to you- it’s a pretty romantic way of ending a busy day and enjoying the sunset (or taking it easy and catching some rays when it’s warm too)!


Now Massage:

If there’s something Los Angeles does very well, it’s a good ol’ pampering. Now Massage on Main Street in Santa Monica is a total testament to that. With massages starting at $40 for 25 minutes, it’s a pretty reasonable way of getting in some good r&r in the most beautiful setting with some seriously good products too. Plus, if Emma Horeau recommends it then it’s gotta be good, right?


Another street we had a lovely time wandering along was Montana Avenue. Peppered with independent coffee shops, brunch spots and a wide range of boutiques offering everything from skin care products like at Malin + Goetz and French pastries at Le Macaron- it made for the perfect spot to mooch along and window shop. One of our favourite picks was Burro, a lifestyle and stationery shop- supplying everything from local brand products you can’t get your mitts on anywhere else, beautiful coffee table books, more greetings cards than you could shake a pen at and everything in between. It took everything in me to not seriously stock up (it was just cards this time, folks) but it was an absolute delight.


Another shop worth noting on Montana Avenue, is Femelle- a curated boutique with some beautiful womenswear brands under one roof and a Pinterest-worthy interior to match.


Mohawk General Store is somewhere that oozes cool way before you realise the shelves are stocked with Aesop, Rejina Pyo and Jesse Kam. From the interiors, the staff and the layout- this spot is a total treasure trove of brilliant designers (young and established), enviable accessories and even an outdoor cactus garden for additional trendy kudos. Although somewhere you might need to develop a little self control, it’s a total mecca for brilliant brands and a real one to note.


How could I mention LA without an essential pit stop at Reformation? I don’t need to go into depths about why this ethical-trend dream is a must stop shop, but with rows of gorgeous pieces (and a couple of doors down from Mohawk) they’re both ones to note during a wander along Santa Monica’s Main Street.

Exciting news! Now you have a chance to experience my amazing trip in Santa Monica too! Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, United Airlines, Hotel Shangri La and Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalow have teamed up to give one lucky winner and guest, a chance to create their own Santa Monica story- wahey! To enter, visit here!



  • Reply
    March 22, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I’m spending a couple days in LA in a few weeks, and although I’m not sure we’ll make it to Santa Monica this time, I really want to visit again after my last time there. The Pier is so fun to explore, and I want to try one of the beautiful glazed donuts! Maybe not the eggs benedict one though haha, I’ll give it a pass!

    Julia x
    Last Post: My Full Budapest City Guide |

  • Reply
    Nati Macchiato
    March 24, 2019 at 9:21 am

    hey Liv, hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

    everything about this post is so beautifully done, from your writing to your photography – this is the ultimate city guide for somewhere that I’m planning to head to soon myself, so I’ve bookmarked this post to refer back to. in the mean time, I’m very excited about this competition! fingers crossed – it sounds like a dream break!

    Nati x |

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 4:01 am

    You make me want to go hang out and explore here too!! It looks so chilled!
    xx Jenelle |

  • Reply
    On the List…
    March 30, 2019 at 7:01 am

    […] out the Santa Monica City Guide from What Olivia […]

  • Reply
    What I’ve Bookmarked | 17 – A Scatter of Thoughts
    April 22, 2019 at 9:47 am

    […] Kate’s photos from her trip to Venice Lucy’s three days in Cape Town Liv’s guide to Santa Monica, a place I’m itching to go back […]

Leave a Comment