Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Shop


Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Center: (310) 393-7593
Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce: (310) 393-9825.


Given Arnold Schwarzenegger's restaurant (Schatzi on Main) and Wolfgang Puck's popular bistro (Chinois on Main) right across the street, it's not surprising that Main Street in Santa Monica has become quite popular with the upscale crowd, as well as with a growing number of Hollywood celebrities (I recently bumped into David Letterman coming out of Chinois on Main, during one of his irregular visits to Hollywood).

Main Street is perfect for a Sunday stroll, filled with window-shopping and star-gazing. With a small town atmosphere, both sides of this one-mile stretch of Main (between Hollister and Rose Avenues) offer a wide selection of imaginative boutiques, funky antique stores, one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, and numerous engaging cafés. It is especially festive on weekends.

Main Street actually begins near the Santa Monica Place Mall (on the north), and runs south past the city's border with Venice. But most of the action centers around the area south of Ocean Park Blvd.

But you might want to start out your journey near the intersection of Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard, where you'll discover two historic Victorian buildings facing each other on the west side of Main Street. One is the Santa Monica Heritage SquareMuseum, and the other cottage is now a restaurant named "The Victorian" (at 2640 Main Street), the perfect al fresco spot for a light meal. (310) 392-4956.

Right across the street, at the southeast corner of Main Street and Ocean Park Avenue, there's a large mural of turn-of-the-century beach life painted on a north-facing wall.

Besides "Chinois on Main" and "Schatzi" (see separate pages), you'll also find such inviting dining spots as:

  • Shoops Deli (south of Hollister, at 2400 Main) is a favorite of actress Thora Birch, who likes their coffee and their European imports. (310) 452-1019.
  • The Omelette Parlor (at Hill Street) is an early-morning favorite of actor Kevin Sorbo ("Hercules).  (310) 399-7892.
  • Finn McCool's (at Hill Street) offers an Irish pub environment;  (310) 452-1734
  • World Cafe (at the northwest corner of Ashland and Main); (310) 392-1661.

  • Holy Guacamole (near the southwest corner of Ashland & Main); (310) 392-6373.

  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (outside patio, great for people watching; near Holy Guacamole.)
  • Il Fornaio (on the northwest corner of Main Street & Navy); (310) 450-2030.
  • Chaya Venice (110 Navy Street, at the southwest corner of Main & Navy); (310) 396-1179. (Camryn Manheim and Jean-Claude Van Damme are just two of the stars spotted here.)
  • Joe's Diner (south of Ashland, at 2917 Main); (310) 396-8804, and

  • El Nido Italian restaurant (Main Street & Marine)

On the other hand, if you want to lose your appetite, just go to the northwest corner of Main Street and Rose Avenue and look up. Above the North Beach Bar & Grill (255 Main Street, (310) 399-3900), you will discover a truly bizarre sight: the giant head of an unshaven hobo-clown, perched atop the body of a ballerina, wearing a tutu. This three-story-high monstrosity is called "The Ballerina Clown," and you can blame artist Jonathan Borofsky.

Fortunately, this stretch of Main Street is also exceptional for its unique collection of eccentric, colorful spots. Here you'll find such distinctive places as:

  • 'BookarU' (at 2914 Main) an Old West-themed book shop, its windows jammed with Southwestern art and a collection of abstract, metallic robot figures. (310) 396-8321.
  • The New Orleans Building (at 2665 Main St.); a small brick courtyard, complete with an attractive fountain. Includes "Arts & Letters," a stationary & gift shop. (310) 392-9076.
  • A window display fit for Dr. Frankenstein himself at JADIS (2701 Main, at the southeast corner of Main and Hill Street). It rents out bizarre props to movie studios only, and its windows are crowded with far-out technical equipment straight out of a mad scientist's lab: switches, dials, giant coils and electrodes - the kind of stuff from which you'd expect to see electricity crackling just before the Monster comes alive... One of the most unusual window displays you're likely to see anywhere. (310) 396-3477.

  • Clouds: Unique gifts, candles & jewelry (2719 Main, near southwest corner of Main & Hill Street). (310 399-2059.

On Sunday (from 7am till 1 pm), you'll even find a farmers market selling farm-fresh organic produce behind Main Street, in the parking lot between Hill and Ocean Park Ave. The weekly event features live music, pony rides for the kids, freshly-made crepes & omelets, and fresh flowers at a great price.

The walking portion of Main Street covers about eight blocks, on both sides of the street, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

If you'd prefer to ride, there's always the TIDE Shuttle Bus. The TIDE shuttle is an electric mini-bus that travels between the Promenade and Main Street. From the Promenade, it travels down past the Pier, then south along the beach Shutters and Casa Del Mar hotels, up east on Marine to Main Street, and then back north along the Main St. to shopping area to Bicknell, then it returns to the Promenade via 4th Street. (Click here for a map of the TIDE route.) It starts at 12 noon and continues until 10 pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. (The schedule is subject to change, of course.) The cost? Just 25 cents (10 cents for seniors).

.

(Also see the pages about Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade., Star Wares on Main, Schatzi on Main, Chinois on Main, Santa Monica High, & the Santa Monica Place Mall.)

 Getting there: Main Street's shopping district runs all the way from Hollister Avenue (on the north) to Rose Avenue, past the southern border with Venice. / From the Santa Monica (10) Freeway west, take the Lincoln Blvd exit. Go south on Lincoln Blvd two blocks to Pico Blvd. Turn right (west) on Pico Blvd., and go west on Pico about four blocks to Main Street. Turn left (south) on Main Street.



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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