Before hitting the beach or heading to the great outdoors this summer, millions of Americans will first make a stop at their favorite sporting goods, shoe store or bike shop, spending more than $120 billion a year on summer-related clothing, footwear, equipment, vehicles, accessories and services, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
Downtown Santa Monica shoppers like Teresa McFall of Alhambra say they find a refreshing bonus by driving the few extra miles to browse Santa Monica Place‘s more than two dozen high-end and specialty retailers and stroll the Third Street Promenade’s diverse grab bag of apparel stores and unique-item shops.
“This feels like coming to the beach to shop — you get both,” said McFall, who was with a group of senior friends out for the day and stopped for lunch on the Third Street Promenade.
“From here, the beach is just a few blocks away, but you can still feel the sea breeze sitting here,” McFall said. “It’s a very pleasant way to window-shop.”
While practically any summer need can be fulfilled along the Promenade’s few breezy blocks, it’s part of a larger Downtown that stretches from Ocean Avenue to Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard to Colorado and encompasses hundreds of businesses.
Decking Out for the Surf and Sand
Just footsteps from one-hour-free parking on Second Street, O’Neill, 131 Broadway, does its own take on the seaside surf shack, but the four-year-old chain store is really a men’s and women’s beachwear apparel and accessories store carrying everything from hats and shirts to blouses and footwear, with a few surfboards in the back. Regular sales make it worth checking out.
Known for its chic beach footwear, PacSun, 1446 Third Street Promenade, carries all the accessories a surfer might need to look cool on land. Heavy on beachwear accessories, the store entices repeat business by regularly advertising new styles and offering special discounts for its online shoppers.
To get into swimsuit shape, two businesses, Soul Cycle, 120 Wilshire Boulevard, and CycleHouse, 1541 Ocean, offer intense, indoor cycling workout classes, as does Ryde4, located on the roof of Burn Fitness, 1233 Third Street Promenade. Downtown is home to several gyms, and yoga and Pilates studios. Visit downtownsm.com for a complete list.
Outdoor gear big and small — camping equipment, paddle boats, bikes and the like — can be found under one roof at REI, 402 Santa Monica Boulevard. The national sporting goods store chain is a warehouse with a wide selection of goods for the outdoors, from specialty bags and activity trackers to heart rate monitors and solar chargers for your smartphones, laptops or other electronic devices.
Picking Up Wheels
According to a newly released Wellbeing Index, which quantifies overall wellness in the beachside city, bike use is up 67 percent in Santa Monica. It’s probably no surprise then that the Downtown area is dotted with bicycle stores and rental spots.
Family run Westside LA Bicycles, 700 Wilshire Boulevard, sells new and refurbished bikes, rents them and repairs them. For more information, call 310.576.9900.
Ron’s Santa Monica Beach Bicycle Rentals, 1428 Fourth Street, offers free bike delivery to any hotel or home in Santa Monica, according to its website. Ron’s specializes in easy to handle beach cruisers. It’s also near several bike paths and offers maps of bike routes.
After a long ride, the amenities at Santa Monica Bike Center, 1555 Second Street, might sound attractive. The rental center offers 24-hour secured bike parking, plus showers, towel service and lockers. It also does repairs and offers guided tours. For more information, call 310.656.8500.
If you have a different set of wheels in mind, Santa Monica’s 20,000-square-foot skate park at Memorial Park, 1401 Olympic Boulevard, features ramps, bowls, stairs, rails and other obstacles for boarders, but protective gear is required for admission.
Most injuries to children under 14 happen during the summer, most often from not wearing the proper gear, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. At least three skate shops that sell the specialized gear are within walking distance in Downtown: Vans, 400 Broadway; Active Ride Shop, 1460 Fourth Street; and Tilly’s, 1426 Third Street Promenade.
Filling the Picnic Basket
Downtown shoppers checking off lists for beach snacks and other picnic essentials have a variety of convenience store options, including a 7-Eleven, several corner stores and cigar shops, two Malibu J’s stores, a One Stop Shop, a Whole Foods, Penzey’s Spices and The Travel Shop, which carries luggage and bags to carry all the goodies to the beach.
At Famima!, 1348 Third Street Promenade, customers can pick up grocery items along with freshly made food to eat there or take along. COOK by Venokado features an assortment of well-priced cheeses for the picnic basket.
For farm fresh fare, the twice-weekly Downtown Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays and Wednesdays, features over two-dozen certified organic farm vendors.
Finally, while outfitting for summer activities, don’t forget the mind. Books, games and other brain stimulators are as important at the beach as an eye-catching bathing suit or surfboard.
Downtown Santa Monica booksellers include three shops on the Promenade alone — Above the Fold, 1257 Third Street; Barnes & Noble, 1201 Third Street, and Kenneth Karmiole Bookseller, 1239 A Third Street. There’s also Hennessey + Ingalls, 214 Wilshire Boulevard, and Thunderbolt Spiritual Books, 512 Santa Monica Boulevard.
Puzzle Zoo, 1411 Third Street, and Marbles the Brain Store in Santa Monica Place, also offer brain-healthy games and toys, and Santa Monica Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard, has special summer reading programs and thousands of publications to loan.
Before leaving the house, it’s recommended to check the City of Santa Monica’s website — smgov.net — for parking information. The ParkMe app is also available for free download to help find and reserve the closest and cheapest parking around. The City’s website also includes information on beach and bike path rules. Smoking is prohibited, as are fires and barbeques and glass bottles on the beach.
The Santa Monica State Beach is very popular during the summer months so be prepared for crowds, arrive early, and have patience.