I spent my college days at UCLA, eating and drinking my way through the larger Los Angeles area, and the place that was the most exciting to me—and still is, decades later—is Santa Monica. The city’s sea-breezy California vibe, paired with the area’s many ethnic communities, make Santa Monica a perfect place to spend a food-focused vacation.
The city’s eclectic food scene includes trendy cafes, natural wine bars, handmade donuts, and hidden spots for sipping matcha. You can let your hair down over a few beverages at night, then get your detox on with a cold-pressed juice and a walk along the Pacific the next morning—the perfect LA balance. Here’s how to eat your way through the city for three days.
Santa Monica’s warm, generally sunny weather is one of its charms, but bring a few layers with you in case of fog.
If you only have time for one meal or snack, grab an ice cream or some oysters and sit on the Santa Monica Pier.
The best way to get acquainted with Santa Monica’s food scene on your first day is to join a foodie tour. You’ll cruise the LA streets sampling food and drink and get tips on where to grab drinks and snacks.
Afterwards, get spruced up and cruise Ocean Avenue, where there are always plenty of people out for a good time. Try booking a table at one of the oldest and best restaurants in Santa Monica, the Ivy, or explore the local bar scene with an expert who can fill you in on the who’s who and what’s what.
On your second day, start with matcha at La La Land Kind Cafe, then head up the coast to Malibu. You can learn about this gorgeous playground of the rich and famous, taste wines from the area’s vineyards, stop by the beach, and check out some seaside restaurants.
Head back to Santa Monica for dinner; one great option is Elephante, which offers rooftop views and a delicious coastal-Italian menu. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy the beach vibe with some dancing, try a group outing that combines a salsa class and cocktails.
On your last day, start early with a power walk up the Santa Monica Stairs, then tackle one of the meanest breakfast sandwiches around at Eggslut in Venice, just one town over. To get an even better feel for Venice, spend your afternoon on a food-focused walking tour.
For a last look at the ocean, head to the Santa Monica Pier and grab a farewell ice cream. Alternatively, if you’d like one last drink to round out your vacation, head on over to Little Prince for a glass of their natural wine before heading to Los Angeles International Airport.