Your Destination Guide to Los Angeles

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Main Street Santa Monica

Main Street Santa Monica
Main Street Santa Monica

© Omar Bárcena

It is almost a city in and of itself, a one street town that, when you are in it, seems completely removed from the rest of Los Angeles. If it weren't for the blue ocean horizon visible from most street corners, one could imagine being in a much more temperate and sunny part of Berkeley, California.

The similarities between the Bay Area city and Main Street hinge primarily on the fact that this street looks nothing like the more quintessentially LA shopping streets – Rodeo Drive, 3rd Street Promenade, Montana – and therefore can only be related to a distant cousin many miles away. Main Street Santa Monica is another side of LA altogether.

The storefronts will grab your attention first; they are as varied as the stores themselves. Hot pink painted Bubble Beach Laundry rubs shoulders with the dark green awnings of a pizzeria, and a chic women's clothing boutique called Paris 1900 sidles up next to Jadis, a movie prop and machinery museum with twisted metal and mechanical contraptions in the window. A hand painted sandwich board sign leans against a tree trunk advertising "Hats and Beads!" with a phone number and address listed at the bottom, while vintage clothing stores roll racks of sale items out in front of their windows, the hangers marked with hand-scrawled dollar amounts.

Beginning at Rose Street and tapering off at about Pico, Main Street is also home to chef Wolfgang Puck's flagship Los Angeles restaurant, Chinois. Known for bringing fusion style cuisine to the culinary forefront in 1983, Chinois still holds its title as the premier Asian/French/California fusion restaurant in Los Angeles.

There is a certain kind of energy that pumps through Main Street, the mix of higher end clothing boutiques and second hand shops, fine restaurants and pizza-by-the-slice stands is somehow exciting, even liberating to a shopper bored with the same old malls and expansive plazas.

At night Main Street is a great place to bar hop, with numerous alehouses, cafes and casually cool hot spots. Take note that parking is located behind most stores and restaurants (there is no street parking on the main drag).

The neighborhood is a kind of melting pot not seen in other shopping areas in Los Angeles. A great place to spend an afternoon, the people watching is great – one can be instantly inspired by the funky ensembles that cruise down the sidewalk.

At the cross street of Hill and Main Street, a curly haired young man wearing a Pink Floyd tee shirt sails by on a bicycle, standing on the pedals, while a girl, seated, clutches his waist and laughs. As they turn to ride down Main Street, it is impossible to deny a definite affection for this quirky little shopping street.

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