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5 Highlights of Santa Monica

Back in October of 2014, I spent a eek in Santa Monica with a coworker of mine.  We were in Santa Monica for a course at the Vidal Sassoon Academy, which kept us extremely busy, so our exploration time was limited.  We flew down a day early so that we could go to Disneyland on the Sunday before class started, but then we were in class from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, so our exploration had to happen in the early mornings and during the evenings.

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Below are my five personal favourite highlights of Santa Monica;

1. Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade is Santa Monica’s Premier Shopping, Dining and Entertainment district.  It features hundreds of stores, from upscale to midrange, lots of different restaurants and cafes as well as a food court, and constant entertainment in the way of live music and street performers.  With its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Promenade draws locals and tourists alike and is a very busy place.  You could easily kill an entire day meandering about the Promenade.  Read more about it here.

2. ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen

Founded in 2011, ShopHouse Kitchen is actually a branch out of the popular fast-food alternative Chipotle, but goes beyond burritos and delves into the vast world of Southeast Asian Cuisine.  With 10 locations across the US, ShopHouse is gaining huge popularity, and for a good reason.  For around $8, I was able to purchase a fresh, customized Thai curry bowl on brown rice with chicken and veggies, all packed up in a bio-degradable container that I could bring back to my hotel room.  Ingredients are sustainably sourced, organic, and positively delicious.  ShopHouse Kitchen in Santa Monica  is conveniently located on the busy Third Street Promenade.

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Custom Curry Bowl from ShopHouse Kitchen
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ShopHouse Kitchen in Santa Monica

3. Santa Monica Ocean Front Walk / Palisades Park

Along Ocean Avenue, there is a pier and pathway system that runs all the way through Palisades Park.  It is a stunning and picturesque system, and I ran it every morning in Santa Monica from the Pier all the way to Venice Beach and back (approx 6 Miles / 9.5 km).  The path is also popular with cyclists and rollerbladers.  The closer you get to Venice Beach, the more of the homeless population you will begin to see.  They never bothered me, but just be sure to keep your wits about you if you plan on running or walking this route alone.

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Early Mornings on the Ocean Front Walk
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Ocean Front Walk Sunrise
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Ocean Front Walk heading back to Santa Monica

4. Pacific Park

Located on the Santa Monica Pier is the West Coast’s only pier-front amusement park, Pacific Park.  It features a dozen rides, lots of midway games, and many different food vendors as well.  The rides certainly aren’t as thrilling as those that you would find at other California amusement parks, but there is definitely a certain novelty in riding the ferris wheel and watching the sunset over the pacific.  Admission to the park is free, and ride tickets can be individually purchased.  For more information, visit Pacific Park’s Website.

Pacific Park from a Distance
Pacific Park from a Distance
View from the Ferris Wheel
View from the Ferris Wheel

5. True Food Kitchen

The culinary highlight of my week in San Diego belongs to True Food Kitchen.  In a quieter area of the Third Street Promenade shopping complex, True Food Kitchen serves up incredible healthy meals in a vibrant and funky atmosphere.  Many of their menu items are vegan or vegetarian, but there are a few meat options available as well.  My personal favourites were “The Natural” beverage, on ice, which consist of ginger, agave and citrus, and the Inside Out Quinoa Burger.  True Food Kitchen has 10 locations in the US, so if you are ever near one, be sure to stop in.  You will not be disappointed!

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True Food Kitchen Santa Monica
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Fresh Herbs
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“The Natural” and “Root & Remedy”
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Panang Curry
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Inside Out Quinoa Burger

Have you been to Santa Monica?  What were some of the highlights of your time spent there?

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

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