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Meet the Beaches || A Guide to Santa Monica, California


Welcome to the second beach of the Meet the Beaches series! The first one was for Long Beach, you can click here to read that.

Today I'm giving you a quick insight into the famous Santa Monica Beach area! With summer right around the corner, a lot of people are looking for things to do in Santa Monica, best place to eat, spots to see and more! There's definitely so much to do in Santa Monica and I can't list all of them but below are a few of my favorite spots!




Santa Monica State Beach - Want to surf? Swim? Or just lay out for a tan? You can do all of that at Santa Monica State Beach. The sand is soft (yes, the sand texture is different at some beaches!) and almost no seaweed wash-ups. Truth be told I don't prefer Santa Monica but that's only because I'm local and want to be at beaches with less tourists and easier parking situations. If you're visiting from out of town though, it's very, very fun! You can rent bicycles, tandem bikes, surf, bodyboard, swim, lay out, everything you can imagine doing at a beach. Not to mention the stunning photography ops!



Dogtown Coffee - Whenever I stumble upon a unique coffee shop, I have to check it out. The interior is very quirky and artsy with indoor and outdoor seating. I was surprised to see an extensive food menu but didn't try anything. I tried their signature DTC Sea Salty Caramel Iced Coffee; a 24 hour cold brew sweetened with deep caramel topping with sea salt infused foam. One word: delicious!




M Street Kitchen - I. Love. This. Place. I've said this before but unless it's extreme, I never take reviews seriously and I'm so glad I don't. M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica had several questionable reviews but they were written years ago. The atmosphere is cozy, a lot of wood, sort of an urban chic vibe. We were there on Sunday for brunch and the wait was 45 minutes+, BUT be smart and take my advice! It's one of the only places in Santa Monica that takes reservations for a weekend brunch through OpenTable. We got seated in 2 minutes and got a scouring look by a girl that was waiting over an hour. The brunch menu is delectable. We shared the Chile Relleno Omelette, Cinammon French Toast, Hash Browns and Candied Bacon. I can't even pick which one I enjoyed most. Everything was delicious!




Sidecar Doughnuts - Shout out to Wendy, our contributor for pushing me to try Sidecar instead of DK's donuts. If you've been following me for a while, you know I'm a donut connoisseur of sorts. As much as I love California Donuts and their vivid colored, flashy donuts, I was ready for something new. Sidecar doughnuts is located both in Costa Mesa and Santa Monica. The donuts are elegant yet they don't fall short on the quality. I'm definitely a new Sidecar fan!




Santa Monica Pier -
Everyone knows the Santa Monica Pier. It's busy with tourists, there's a lot of fun vendors, there's a mini fairground, an arcade, the token Bubba Gump - you get the gist. From experience, I love going during sunset and evening. The lights on the ferris wheel is iconic and the chilly ocean breeze is my favorite.


Del Frisco's Grille -
This restaurant sits on prime real estate, right across the Santa Monica Pier entrance. I didn't plan on eating here at all but wanted some late night munchies and ended up at Del Frisco's. If you're 21 or older and have a sweet tooth, please try their "Adult Milkshake"! Oh my goodness, what a treat. Want to be more indulgent? Pair it with their Truffle Mac n Cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Otherwise, they have some great cocktails, food and open late. I'm definitely returning for lunch or brunch next time!

Lawry's Prime Rib* - I put an asterisk by Lawry's because it's located in Beverly Hills, not Santa Monica but everyone loves a good steakhouse recommendation, right? If you have a car, it's only about a 15-20 minute drive, though. I also can't not mention Lawry's because it's one of my favorite restaurants ever! If you love prime rib, this is the place for you. Most people only know Lawry's by the seasoning packets you buy at grocery stores. But gosh, it's so much more than that! Their spinning salads, their fresh cuts, horseradish and creamed corn - oh my!

Where To Stay:
  • Shutters On The Beach - Looking for luxury? This is it. Right on the beach, beautiful property and fantastic restaurants. The ultimate beach vacation. 
  • Shore Hotel - Looking for modern and chic? The Shore Hotel is fairly new with beautiful, modern designs. Located conveniently on Ocean Ave with killer views of the beach. 
  • Looking for economy hotels? It's not that easy to find 'economy' spots in the Santa Monica area but they do have spots like Travelodge, Best Western, Days Inn for a lower price point. 


What do you think? Have you been to any of these spots? Where are YOUR favorites? Comment below and let me know! 

Looking for more from the Meet the Beaches series?

About Meet the Beaches: Ever since I moved to Los Angeles about 4 years ago, I've always wanted to explore and find out the differences of each beach in the Southern California area. So when I started this blog, Meet the Beaches was born! I introduce local beaches, restaurants, activities, hotels in that area and so much more! This series is in partial collaboration with Jrrny, an online Travel Magazine where I also contribute.

Pin for later!
 

39 comments

  1. Great post, Kana! Except...makes us miss Santa Monica. The only solution: California, here we come! Promised Mrs. TravelLatte we'd stay at Shutters next time, too. It's like the quintessential California beach hotel, isn't it? Only...we have all the others places to go and stuff...might be a while... ;(

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    1. Thank you so much Rob & Ann for always stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment! Shutters can get pricey but it truly is a classic and absolutely beautiful of a stay! I hope you make it out here soon! xo

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  2. Kana, you make me miss California so much!! Gorgeous photos!!

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    1. Awwww well you make me miss Tokyo so much! :) But in a good way!!! xo

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  3. I love M Street!!! It'is my go to place for meetings in Santa Monica!! Awesome list.

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    1. YES! M Street is SO delicious and the decor is goals! Thanks Cherie! xo

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  4. So I started off thinking that beaches are pretty much the same, then I began reading your Meet The Beaches series. Beaches are not the same and I love the sound of Santa Monica. I really am going to have to fly down for a weekend. And that French toast from Dogtown Coffee looks delish! #flyawayfriday

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    1. Awww Kat!!! That is like, the best compliment I've ever received on my blog!!! Thank you so much, I'm glad you feel that way! The concept of a beach is the same with water and sand but the surrounding area is what makes it special, I think :) Hopefully you can fly down! If you need a buddy just let me know!! xo

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  5. Kana, I used to go to Santa Monica quite a bit and am embarrassed to admit I don't think I've been to any of the delicious restaurants you mentioned! Yikes. I'll have to check them out next time I'm there. Also, great pics - the sunset pic is special. xx. Moira

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    1. Haha it's ok Moira! There's SO many spots to try in Santa Monica, I'm sure you've tried other delicious spots :) Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  6. Such an iconic beach city! I am in love with all the food pictures and Dogtown is an awesome locals coffee shop! Awesome post!

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    1. Dogtown was awesome!! Thanks Wendy!! xo

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  7. Love those blue skies - it's been so long since we've had anything like that here at home! I visited here many moons ago when in LA for a work trip, would loved to have spent more time there! #FarAwayFriday

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    1. Aww! Hopefully you can come back soon to LA?! Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  8. Great post Kana. This is such an iconic location and I'm sure on many peoples list for an LA visit. Sidecar doughnuts are as legendary as the beach so I hear they looked incredible! Always love your pics #flyawayfriday

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    1. Yes Sidecar is SO delicious! Thankfully their lines have subsided as of late, so I don't have to plan on standing around for an hour! Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  9. Love this! Pinned for our Great American Road Trip. BTW...when I clicked to tweet, the link did not work for me.

    Kelly
    www.alovelylifeindeed.com

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    1. Aww thank you Kelly! If you need any California tips for your road trip, let me know! Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  10. I've always wanted to visit Santa Monica. It looks like such a fun place! I can definitely understand wanting to avoid the crowds & tourists as a local though.

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    1. It really is fun if you're a visitor! During the week it can be nice for residents, haha! Thanks for stopping by Courtney! xo

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  11. That salty caramel iced coffee sounds amazing! I would go just for that!

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  12. Santa Monica is not my beach of choice neither. Since I live in the Beach Cities area, I prefer Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo. Like you said, more local and less crowded and it feels like a separate community. I know Santa Monica is full of good restaurants and hip stores. That are some reason why I would like to stop by more often. #FlyAwayFriday

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    1. YES! I know you're local too Ruth so I'm sure Santa Monica isn't that appealing :) But ya know, it is for tourists :) Thanks for stopping by Ruth! xo

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  13. I haven't been to Santa Monica in years, and clearly I need to go back and try the M Street Kitchen. The French Toast looks amazing and I like that they take reservations on Open Table. The doughnuts also look amazing! Cheers! Janine #flyawayfriday

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    1. YES! It's a miracle they take reservations especially for Sunday brunch! Hopefully you can give it a try soon! Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  14. What a gorgeous beach. I love the fact the sand is actually really soft - for all the wonderful things about Fiji beaches, the sand isn't soft. It's lots of ground down coral, with quite a few chunks of coral which is really painful to walk on! It's quite coarse in some islands. And as for M Street Kitchen - oh it looks delicious! #flyawayfriday

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    1. Wow that's so interesting! I didn't know that the sand in Fiji isn't soft! Thanks for stopping by Juliette - love having you!! xo

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  15. As always, awesome pictures! You make Santa Monica sound much more tolerable for a local. There is so much to do in Santa Monica. For a tourist, it is definitely worth a visit!

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    1. Hahaha! I know I know, we're local so it's not that exciting to read about Santa Monica :D But tourists LOVE it, you know? :) xo

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  16. Oh wow! Next time we will spend more time in Santa Monica! Unfortunately all we did was pick up a tour of LA at the pier! We loved LA so I am sure we will be back!! #flyawayfriday

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    1. Hope you can make it back to LA someday Tracy! xo

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  17. Great list! I would love to visit and make use of your recommendations!

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    1. Hopefully you can visit LA soon!! :) xo

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  18. Oh wow - this is a great idea for a series! CA is so famous for it's beaches and I have only been to a couple. Love the coffee shots! #flyawayfriday :)

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    1. I hope you can make it to LA sometime! When you do, let me know and we can grab some of that coffee! :D xo

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  19. That coffee you got sounds amazing! I haven't been to Santa Monica in years but it sounds like it got a cool hip vibe happening!

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    1. Yeah definitely! It gets CRAZY busy but during the week, it's acceptable for locals :) xo

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  20. all that food looks so good!! esp the donuts!!!

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