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The oceanfront Casa del Mar is known for its bon vivant vibe, pristine beach club and on-site seafood restaurant, Catch (one of L.A.’s finest). You can even book a package that includes a market-fresh lunch and a surf lesson with Catch executive chef Jason Bowlin. Or try a private Kinesis session, which uses a system of tension cables to build endurance, balance, strength and flexibility. After 50 minutes, you’ll be thankful for the hydrothermal massage tub in your room’s Italian marble bathroom.

Snag a table out on the sand
Open since 1989, the Back on the Beach Café is one of Santa Monica’s secret pleasures. On the menu, veggie burgers and vegan scrambles hold court alongside huevos rancheros, fried calamari and grilled portobello mushroom sandwiches. The café is now part of Annenberg Community Beach House, an elegant estate with a marble pool originally built as a private home for actress Marion Davies in the 1920s. Today the centre hosts cultural events and activities for kids.

The Viceroy Santa Monica The Viceroy Santa Monica

Fall down the rabbit hole
The hip Viceroy Santa Monica features oversize lobby armchairs that conjure up Alice in Wonderland. With its own DJ on weekend nights, the hotel’s see-and-be-seen pool attracts a rotating cast of young, beautiful Angelenos who gather in white poolside cabanas for bottle service.

ZJ Boarding House ZJ Boarding House (Photo: Austin Squire)

Hang 10
Since 1988, ZJ Boarding House has been the Santa Monica destination for all things surf, from wetsuits and wax to eco-friendly boards. The ultra-passionate staff will provide expert advice to school even newbies in the art of surf and skate. This community-focused store also hosts events like outdoor surf flick screenings, free surf demos and an annual Halloween surf competition where costumed participants ride the waves.

Frank Lloyd GalleryFrank Lloyd Gallery at Bergamot Station (Art: Larry Bell / Photo: Gabriel Seri)

Take an art walk
Bergamot Station, an 1875 trolley depot, now houses the Santa Monica Museum of Art and dozens of contemporary galleries, including the Sculpture Foundation, Frank Lloyd Gallery and Shoshana Wayne Gallery. The vibrant arts complex, which hosts architecture and design firms as well as a frame shop and café, is also a venue for art openings, classes and auctions.

Say “om”
No visit to Santa Monica would be complete without a yoga class – or 10. In true SoCal tradition, Santa Monica’s streets are lined with studios and gurus to soothe every chakra, from the community focus of Naam yoga to the sweaty discipline of Bikram. A local favourite is Santa Monica Power Yoga (West), where senior instructor Rudy is tough but funny. Expect to sweat; there’s a reason he calls his students “yoga warriors.”

Shop and lunch
When the weekend rolls around, Santa Monica’s families, couples and latte-toting singles head to the Sunday Main Street Farmers’ Market. Face painters and a petting zoo entertain the little ones while live bands perform for older crowds. As you stroll down Main Street, stock up on fresh farm produce, prepared dishes from Main Street restaurants and samples offered by food purveyors. (Think local honey, pesto, herbs and dates.)



Getting There

Air Canada offers daily non-stop service from Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver to Los Angeles, California.

Comments… or add another

Beverley Adamson

Monday, July 8th 2013 18:30
I love Santa Monica, and all Southern California. Would love to visit again.

Robert H Buchanan

Tuesday, July 9th 2013 12:43
Love Santa Monica
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