If you’ve been standing in front of your closet and sighing “I don’t have anything to wear” more than usual lately, grab your friends and take a shopping trip to the Third Street Promenade in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. Ditch the trappings of traffic and step into this pedestrian-only haven of stores, outdoor dining, and eclectic entertainment beneath California’s sunny blue skies and swaying palm trees. Bob and weave into stores such as J. Crew, Gap, and Anthropologie like you are training for a marathon, resting only to “ooh” and “ahh” over your friends’ picks as you congregate in the dressing rooms. Sprinkled among the big retailers are unique boutiques and specialty shops, such as Art One Gallery, which features original works by world-renowned artists, and Mudra, which specializes in fashion by local designers. Here, it’s your turn to model, so twirl for your adoring crowd of girlfriends before buying some much-needed merch for your armoire.
As you continue down the street, you are treated to more than just storefront displays and street cart vendors. The Third Street Promenade has long been known as the best venue for street performers, from indie musicians to fortune-telling cats. Follow the pattern of the crowds to find your way to the best of the bunch. Memorize the face and voice of the guitar player strumming the soundtrack to your day — you may just see him appear on the next season of “The Voice,” like other promenade performers before him.
Between browsing and buying, you and your pals feel your stomachs start to growl, so stop for a bite or drink at any one of the area’s cafes, restaurants, and bars that offer a mix of casual and fine dining. Treat yourself to some sushi and a mai tai at Monsoon before grabbing a beer and watching a game while you compare purchases at Barney’s Beanery. Though you may be feeling more replenished than your wallet, wrap up your trip with a visit to the Santa Monica Place Mall, where you shop some more. Don’t forget to ride the escalator to the third floor to watch the sun set over the blue Pacific.
Photo by FunkBrothers