Looking for the best places to go shopping in Santa Monica? There are so many superb retail areas in this bustling seaside suburb it can be hard to work out where to go. Los Angeles’ premier beach destination isn’t just for sunbathing and sightseeing; the coastal zone is a hit with both visitors and local shopaholics.

    From the busy boardwalk with its beautiful Pacific views to quaint farmers’ markets and imposing modern malls, here are the top spots to go for a quick retail fix in Santa Monica.

    1

    Venice Beach Boardwalk

    An eclectic mix of the weird and the wonderful

    • Shoppers

    The Venice Beach Boardwalk is technically in Venice, the next district over from Santa Monica. But the world-famous promenade is such a quintessential Los Angeles attraction you’d be mad to miss out on a spot of shopping during your visit. Hire a bike and ride down the boardwalk from Santa Monica to soak up the ambience and epic ocean views.

    Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a mishmash of souvenir vendors, T-shirt stalls, artisanal jewellery outlets, head shops, and bohemian boutiques. Venice Beach is synonymous with counterculture and artistic expression, so if you’ve got a bit of a hippy streak, you might never want to leave.

    Location: 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, USA

    Phone: +1 310-396-6764

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    photo by La Citta Vita (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Third Street Promenade

    A buzzing open-air strip near the beach

    • Shoppers

    Third Street Promenade sits just a few blocks back from the shore and offers an electric alfresco shopping experience. Los Angeles’ lovely balmy weather brings folks here in droves, only stopping the shopping to gawk at a street performer or catching up for coffee with friends.

    The pedestrian-only thoroughfare has got everything from fancy big-name boutiques to fresh farmer’s market produce and a bewildering array of knick-knacks. The popular Santa Monica Place lies at the upper end, from where you can beat the traffic going downtown by hopping on the Metro Expo Line.

    Location: 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

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    photo by Cayambe (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Santa Monica Place

    Santa Monica’s famous open-air mall

    • Shoppers

    Santa Monica Place is one of the suburb’s most vibrant open-air malls, with a dazzling array of upmarket boutiques to choose from. Expect to find everything, from a Bloomingdale concept store to big-name brands like Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, and Tiffany & Co. Big spenders will appreciate the exclusive discounts (up to $750 worth) that come with the Visitor Saving Card. You can get it at the Concierge Lounge, located on Level 2.

    Once you’re done shopping, there’s a neat rooftop dining area with ocean views and excellent cuisine. ArcLight Cinemas plays the latest Hollywood blockbusters should you fancy ending the evening with a film.

    Location: 395 Santa Monica Pl, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm, Sunday from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 310-260-8333

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    photo by Prayitno (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Santa Monica farmers' markets

    Farm fresh produce from local SoCal growers

    • Shoppers
    • Budget

    Santa Monica hosts multiple farmers’ markets throughout the week, the most popular of which is the Downtown Market on Arizona Avenue between 4th and Ocean Boulevard. The sprawling 4-block affair sees 75 local farmers hawk their wares to a keen crowd of foodies and well-known chefs (get in early to grab the freshest foodstuffs). On Saturdays, the market switches focus toward organic produce, offering the biggest selection of chemical-free fruit and veggies in the state.

    If you miss the Downtown Santa Monica Market, there’s another on Virginia Avenue/Pico Boulevard on Saturday mornings and Main Street on Sunday mornings. All 3 farmers' markets serve delicious and freshly prepared food.

    Location: 155-199 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm

    Phone: +1 310-458-8712

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    5

    Montana Avenue

    An easygoing shopping strip north of the beach

    • Shoppers

    Laidback Montana Avenue bursts with activity during the day as celebs, visitors, and stroller-pushing mums rub shoulders on the retail stretch (from 7th to 17th street). The laidback strip hosts 150 retailers and restaurants, with everything from designer boutiques to those ubiquitous juice bars tempting punters to linger.

    If you feel you need a break from your shopping adventure, the Aero Theatre plays independent films on a massive 188-ft screen. Minutes from the ocean but miles from the crowds, Montana Avenue is excellent for those seeking a lowkey and relaxing spot to shop.

    Location: Montana Avenue, between 7th and 17th street, Santa Monica, CA 90403, USA

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    6

    Abbot Kinney Boulevard

    The coolest block in America

    • Shoppers

    Abbot Kinney Boulevard, crowned “the coolest block in America”, is where the city’s boho-chic come to source new threads, cosmetics, and knick-knacks. The uber-trendy stretch, which runs from Venice Boulevard to Pacific Avenue, packs in a dizzying array of retailers catering to L.A.’s fashionable elite. Stacks of dining options are available – from takeout to gourmet – for whenever you start feeling peckish.

    If possible, drop by on the first Friday night of the month to enjoy a vibrant festival-like event with live music, scores of street food, and a smattering of pop-up bars.

    Location: Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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    photo by La Citta Vita (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    Mid-City

    The hipster haven of L.A.

    • Shoppers

    Mid-city attracts hordes of hipsters and bountiful bohemians for its thriving arts and culture scene, and you’ll find a retail sector to match the vibe. Vintage fashion outlets, recyclable goods stores, and bicycle and skate shops do the lion’s share of the trade. A few loungewear and lifestyle boutiques come peppered in-between.

    The strip sits between Wilshire and Olympic boulevards and is easy to reach via 2 separate Expo Line stations. After you’ve reeled in your haul, pop into the 18th Street Arts Center to experience the area’s burgeoning arts scene or grab a cappuccino at one of its many trendy cafes.

    Location: 10th Street, between Wilshire and Olympic, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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    8

    Ocean Park Boulevard

    A casual approach to retail therapy

    • Shoppers

    The refreshingly authentic Ocean Park Boulevard shopping district resides in the northeast, not far from the Santa Monica Airport. Rather than the glitz and celebrity-centric glam of Santa Monica’s mainstay shopping areas, things get a bit more casual in this laidback locale. Postmodern artworks, unpretentious apparel, and fair-trade handicrafts are among the goodies you can expect to encounter here.

    Shoppers with kids in tow can keep the little ones happy by popping into the Museum of Flying or the 4-acre Airport Park. Keep an eye out for a bi-monthly antique market to score some of the best time-worn items in the city.

    Location: Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, USA

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    9

    Pico Boulevard

    Restaurants and retailers galore along the main arterial road

    • Shoppers

    Pico Boulevard is the main artery that connects Santa Monica with downtown, with scores of businesses taking advantage of the high-traffic spot to set up shop. An art initiative led by the non-profit Beautify Earth group has splashed colour all over the avenue through a series of striking murals.

    A recycled artefact store, a sewing arts centre, and customised jewellers are some of the retailers doing business here; the shopping on offer is as varied as the clientele who hail from a multitude of different demographics. And up towards the northern fringe near Virginia Avenue Park, a heaving farmers market does a roaring trade on Saturdays.

    Location: Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, USA

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    10

    Wilshire Boulevard

    A slice of authentic SoCal life

    • Shoppers

    The nearly 16-mile-long Wilshire Boulevard encapsulates Californian culture through its extensive selection of ageing Mexican eateries and non-descript, mum-and-pop-style diners. Aside from the cuisine, the lengthy stretch boasts a wide array of innovative retail outlets, from vintage boutiques to second-hand flea markets, and everything in-between.

    High-end designer stores line the stretch for those who are happy to venture far afield, though more options are available in Santa Monica’s upmarket retail districts. If the concrete and the traffic start getting too much, Douglas Park is a great place for some quiet respite.

    Location: Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403, USA

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    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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