By Vicki Hogue-Davies
In vibrant, eclectic Santa Monica, where street performers rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, there is always something exciting happening. Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is perfectly situated seaside, inviting guests to take part in the action or relax in laid-back—but decidedly chic—beach style.
Chef concierge Michael Fox has been with the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for more than 15 years and is a passionate proponent of the city. “It means a lot to me when guests have a wonderful day of touring the city because of my recommendations,” he says. Here are his suggestions for an ideal stay on the beachfront.
To truly appreciate the area, Fox recommends you dine with the ocean as a backdrop. An institution in Santa Monica since 1923, The Lobster sits at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier with stunning views of both the pier and beach. Just a five-minute walk from the hotel, the restaurant serves classic lobster dinners and features a great raw bar as well as a popular happy hour Monday through Friday.
For more ocean vistas and coastal cuisine, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel’s Ocean & Vine offers one of the area’s top dining options on property. In true California fashion, farmers market produce is served alongside locally caught seafood and naturally farmed beef.
It shares its name with another state, but Montana Avenue personifies California cool. The 10-block area features more than 150 shops, restaurants and other establishments to explore. “As Santa Monica’s premier upscale shopping neighborhood, it has something for everyone,” Fox says.
He also recommends Abbot Kinney Boulevard—located between Santa Monica and Venice Beach—for trendy shops, art galleries and restaurants. Easily navigated by foot, the area’s boho vibe has made it a popular gathering spot for locals.
Or, for collecting or simply admiring art, visit Bergamot Station, Southern California’s largest art gallery complex and cultural center. Visitors will find a range of contemporary and traditional fine art galleries as well as the Santa Monica Museum of Art.
Santa Monica is known for year-round temperate weather, and the perfect way to enjoy it is a stroll down the Santa Monica Pier. In addition to an arcade, rides and restaurants, the pier hosts plenty of events to fill your calendar. Fox recommends Way Over Yonder on Sept. 26-27, a musical extravaganza from the producers of the iconic Newport Folk Festival. Also, Front Porch Cinema, a free event showing a lineup of eclectic films under the stars, takes place every Friday evening in October on the pier.
Lovers of the great outdoors should grab a board, because quintessential Southern California experiences happen in the ocean. Surfing and paddleboard lessons are available through the hotel’s concierge desk, says Fox. “They include a two-hour lesson, a wetsuit and a surfboard or paddleboard.” Just don’t forget the sunscreen.