As the 1982, Missing Persons’ song goes: “Walkin’ in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.” This catchy tune perpetrated the pervasive myth that Los Angeles is all about car culture and no self respecting person would dare….walk (gasp!) A city of urban sprawl and notorious traffic, navigating the City of Angeles sure is easier with your own car. That said, Canadian travellers fear not, there are many neighborhoods across the city that are very foot friendly. If you stay right in this neighborhood you may not need a rental so you’ll save on that and the car insurance. Don’t forget to protect yourself with travel insurance though – unless you’re a local!
One of my favorite places is on the West Side found in the Northern part of Santa Monica on a street called Montana Ave. I send all of my visiting friends (Canadians and otherwise!) here. This upmarket strip is lined with high-end clothing boutiques, jewelry shops and quaint restaurants, pedestrians can find refuge.
Just off Santa Monica’s coastline, Montana Avenue is a charming 10-block, open-air retail destination with more than 150 storefronts. As part of my “Live Like a Local” blog series, I recently hit these residential tree-lined streets to explore and highlight the hidden, local gems of Montana Ave.
Start your afternoon stroll along Montana Ave. with a little retail therapy. Looking to add a little West Coast beach babe to your wardrobe? Clare V (318A Montana Avenue), a Los Angeles-based designer, sells trendy ladies accessories and basics. From monogrammed leather clutches to t-shirts and totes, this shop fuses modern Parisian charm with cool Cali classics.
There are several charming bath, body and beauty related shops worth browsing. The first is Larissa Love Cosmetics (1129 Montana Ave), a lovely retail space selling everything from scented candles to gossamer scarves. Stop in to smell their fresh fragrances and sample their luxurious African Shea Butter. The second is Benefit Cosmetics Boutique & Brow Bar (1210 Montana Ave), a romantic retro-themed salon that caters to all your plucking and polishing beauty needs.
Now that you look and smell amazing, make time to taste a little piece of heaven. Chocoholics will love a visit to John Kelly Chocolates (1111 Montana Ave). Here you’ll find a selection of sweets like truffle fudge and caramel cluster. Best of all, they offer free samples of their scrumptious delicacies. Try their creative flavors: Peanut Butter with Himalayan Pink Salt or Dark Chocolate with Habanero & Jalapeno Chile. They’re melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I haven’t found a travel insurance policy that covers sugar crashes yet so travellers beware!
For a light, healthy snack order a vegetable juice at Kreation (1023 Montana Ave), a popular outdoor eatery specializing in veggie juice cleanses, shakes and gluten free cookies. Embrace clean California living with a shot of wheat grass.
For a dose of home cooking in a cozy courtyard setting surrounded by succulents along the rooftop rim, head to Courtyard Kitchen (1211 Montana Ave). This local eatery, tucked away off Montana with a French country feel, is perhaps most famous for brunch. Their “Tale of Green Eggs” dish, a pesto and arugula eggs benedict dish, is delish.
For a hearty carnivorous lunch or dinner fare, visit the popular Father’s Office (1018 Montana Ave) for their infamous burger. This gastropub known for its New American cuisine serves up a juicy burger with caramelized onion, applewood bacon compote, gruyere and matag blue cheese. They serve up a really great burger but my one beef (excuse the pun) is the lack of condiments! If you’re a ketchup addict like me, be sure to BYOK, because they don’t have ketchup here (the horror!) and will give you attitude if you ask.
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Rocky, a 150lbs pet Potbelly pig, taking his owner for a stroll along Montana. Rocky is a neighborhood regular and mini celebrity among the local community, so keep your eyes peeled for the “pork-tastic” star sighting.
Th-th-th-tha-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!
*Don’t Forget: Pack your comfortable shoes because you’ll actually be able to walk in this neighborhood and of course, Canadians, bring your travel insurance. The US does have some great deals but they don’t apply to health care!