3rd Street Promenade
The Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade is one of my favorite shopping centers in the world, and has been a part of my social and consumer life for decades. I can remember even when I was young, walking down the vehicle free streets, passing store fronts and food courts as the dinosaur statues in the center of the three-block strip spewed water as I made my way towards the pier with my parents. Even today, the promenade may have fewer food courts, and may be becoming more vogue and chiq (crepe shops and British clothing stores are popping up all over), but it still looks and feels the same. Strategically positioned book stores at each end of this literal strip-mall act as fantastic book marks for the restaurant littered first and third blocks of this shopping area that stretches from Wilshire Blvd to Broadway on 3rd Street, where it filters into the Santa Monica Place Mall. Located in the middle of the promenade are plenty of clothing stores, jewelry stores, and even three movie theaters, but what really sets this place apart from other malls are its independently owned shops. From Shiva Imports’ lavish, inexpensive jewelry to the various stores owned by local artists, the promenade has successfully mixed the feel of a small town street fair with that of a big city shopping plaza. Always ahead of the game with new ideas, the promenade constantly features new kinds of eateries, such as the recently opened high-class rotating sushi bar, and a couple of gelato parlors that make some of the best frozen treats Los Angeles has to offer. The best part of the promenade, of course, is that it is opened year round, the weather is almost always perfect there, and it is just a few blocks from the beach. Being outdoors, I have never felt that trapped feeling that most malls put upon me, and I am glad to hear they may be soon expanding the promenade out further. If you make it to Santa Monica for even one day, take a stroll through the promenade and you won’t be disappointed.