The Weekend Guide to Santa Monica, California

It's time to re-explore a place you thought you knew.

Fairmont_Miramar Hotel
(Image credit: Fairmont Miramar Hotel)

If you've ever been to Los Angeles, you've probably spent some time in its neighbor city, Santa Monica, known for its beachside views and, of course, the famous (and much Instagrammed) Santa Monica Pier. Despite its tourist attractions, Santa Monica is a great place to escape to for a restful weekend away from it all, even if you're a Los Angeles native. 

As a born and bred New Yorker, I welcomed the chance to flee the chilly end-of-winter weather and travel to the much sunnier, warmer west coast to do just that. Keep reading to get all the details on my brief, wonderful weekend away in Santa Monica, including where to eat and where to stay so that you get the absolute most of your Out of Office time. 

Where to Stay

These days, we could all use a break. The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, one of Santa Monica's most iconic hotels, is the best place to completely disconnect from the outside world. As the name suggests, Fairmont Miramar's expansive property hosts a series of luxe single- and bi-level bungalows alongside their usual selection of (objectively stunning) rooms. Ideal for a bachelorette party or a honeymoon, the bungalows offer the perfect blend of privacy and space. 

Landmarked by the iconic (and massive) Moreton Bay Fig Tree at its entrance, the property was originally named Miramar, Spanish for “view of the sea." Founded more than 100 years ago, the now five-acre hotel and spa feel like something out of a retro Hollywood movie: lush foliage and palm trees speckle the entire property and encircle the pool at the hotel's center. The hotel's recently-redesigned Lobby Lounge is outfitted with luxe velvet sofas in shades of deep blue and blush-toned pink, making it the perfect place to sip on a classic cocktail in the early evenings. And if the hotel feels like the kind of place where Hollywood royalty may have come to stay, that's because stars like Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, and Jean Harlow frequented over the years.

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

(Image credit: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows)

What to Do

After you've checked in and spent some time by the pool with a good read, make your way over to the hotel's very own Exhale Mind Body Spa for a detoxing experience that will do away with every last bit of stress hidden in your body. 

The hotel also has a hair salon, a barbershop, and other best-in-class amenities right on the premises, so you'll be fresh when you're ready to venture off the premises to explore in the California sunshine. The Fairmont Santa Monica is centrally located and is a short distance from shopping destinations like the 3rd Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier. Better yet, you can relax on one of the nearby beaches or visit the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For the true farm-to-table experience, the Fairmont recently launched a new Farmers Market Package, which allows you to shop alongside Culinary Director Jason Prendergast so you can shop for the same ingredients you'll eat that very evening at FIG Restaurant.

Fairmont Hotel & Bunaglows

(Image credit: Fairmont Hotel & Bunaglows)

Where to Eat & Drink

Santa Monica is no stranger to top-rated restaurants. Local favorites include the coastal-Italian-inspired restaurant Elephante. I recommend the Fusilli Pesto. Another one of my personal favorites is Jinya Ramen Bar, where each bowl is simmered for 20 hours in-house. Or, if you're just looking to grab a coffee while you walk around town, Philz Coffee can't be beaten. Try the Iced Mint Mojito coffee (no, there's no alcohol in it) for a refreshing twist on your mid-afternoon staple. 

There's also Soko, an eight-seat sushi restaurant, which is housed right in the lobby of the Fairmont. All you have to do is simply check off their favorite bites from a selected menu and enjoy food a la carte—and watch as it's made right in front of you by master sushi chef Masa Shimakawa. And a new restaurant, Georgina's, is set to open in the hotel next month. Named for the hotel's founder, the bar will sit in an enclave off of the lobby, giving you the perfect reason to sit and sip before heading to dinner. 

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

(Image credit: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows)
Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.