Before I went off on this really long tangent about where to dance in Los Angeles my aim was to tell you that there was more to Santa Monica than the Promenade and Pier. I didn’t forget and I hope you didn’t either.
My first time in Los Angeles, I was surprised how very residential it was. It is not a compressed city, like Manhattan, full of tall buildings of corporations and business with apartments tucked in. It is not like Tokyo where everything is stacked up on each other reaching for the sky. Los Angeles is a vast sea of residences with tall buildings interspersed in high traffic areas like Hollywood, Mid-City, and Century City for example. Tucked away and hiding in the dingbat apartments and homes are some hidden gems like the two neighborhoods I will talk about in this post. These area are easy to miss because they aren’t as loud or in your face like the places I mentioned in Santa Monica 101. If you are visiting or new to Los Angeles, these are two areas are slower paced, but still give you the sightseeing, shopping, and Los Angeles-ness you might be looking for.
Montana Avenue-The Neighborhood
Montana Avenue is a long street that winds its way from Santa Monica to Westwood/UCLA. When people say “Meet me on Montana Avenue,” they really mean the shopping area on the Santa Monica end of Montana between 9th and 17th streets. Montana reminds me of a small town main street lined with single story small businesses. A florist, a pharmacy, boutique shopping, etc. There are some national chains, but they do a great job at blending in. This area is also the original location of Father’s Office that some claim is the best burger in Los Angeles.
If you remember my Hollywood bonus features post, you may remember me mentioning The Egyptian and its sister theater the Aero, which plays independent, foreign, and classic films. The Aero is here on Montana.
[Getting there: Santa Monica Bus 3M]
When I first visited the area south of the Santa Monica Pier and the famous Hotel California I had to remind myself that I was still in Santa Monica, this is where the boundary of Santa Monica and Venice becomes blurred. Main Street is lined with galleries, bars, and skate/surf shops. (Skateboarding was invented just a mile south in Venice.) By day it is a great area to do some shopping for more one of a kind items or some do some shopping at outposts of smaller international chains like Muji and Undefeated. If you are coming of the beach in the late afternoon this is a great location to hit one of the many happy hours at the bars that line Main.
By night it becomes a place where the newly 21 year olds bar hop stumbling around and whoo-hooing at bar close.
[getting there: 33/733, and Santa Monica’s 1 and 8]