Main Street, Santa Monica

Main St. at Hill

Access Type: Bike Lane (Navy St to Colorado Ave)

Difficulty: Easy

Traffic Intensity: Moderate to Heavy

Other Bikers: Many

The View: Festive Street Scene

Main St., to me, captures the best of Santa Monica living.  It’s by the beach, it’s bustling from the morning to well after midnight, people walk around, unique non-chain local businesses line its sidewalks, and, of course, bikers abound!  On a warm sunny day, there are few things better than wheeling around in shorts and flip flops, stopping as your fancy strikes to grab a taco (Holy Guacamole), omusubi (Sunny Blue), some caffeine (Groundworks, Urth), or a giant banana-chocolate chip cookie (M Street Kitchen).  Of course, if the Hour is approaching “Happy,” Main St is like a built-in pub crawl.

COLORADO TO PICO: This is the quiet stretch of Main.  Heading north, you will find the SM City Hall, County Court House, Civic Center on your right (if you need to pay/fight a parking ticket, this is also the area you head to) and the RAND headquarter on your left.  To me, this area is charming in its own way.  Traffic is light here, which makes it a sneaky backdoor entrance to the busy Promenade/downtown area.

PICO TO OCEAN PARK: I think of this stretch as the wealthy uptown of Main.  Still relatively calm, this section sees  many bikers with yoga mats tucked under one arm.  If you are in the mood to nosh, M Street Kitchen (one of my personal faves), Urth (on a clear night, the back patio conjures up feelings of Italy), Shoop’s Delicatessen (potato salad..yummmm), Salute Wine Bar, Ben & Jerry’s, and Manchego are here.  A little further away, at the corner of Pico and Ocean, Cha Cha Chicken (cantalope agua fresca!) is a gem for outdoor oinking on a hot day/night.  If you want to relax with a drink chi chi-style, the Casa del Mar will grant your wish (along with a $15/drink tab, not that I’m complaining).  I also enjoy snooping around the Community Garden across from Urth (there are some crazy plants/produce in there!).  For unique shopping, try the Urban Craft Center and the newly opened Buffalo Exchange.  Between Main and Barnard are some little quaint streets with picturesque homes; Wadsworth has the best.

On the weekend, pretty much all parking meters will be taken up by bikes...

OCEAN PARK TO ROSE: Main gets progressively and simultaneously: rowdier, hippie-er, and grungier here.  On Sunday, the

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market at Ocean Park is a ritual; it even has free bike valet (but beware of the crowds)!  For nighttime fun, the Basement Tavern, Finn McCool’s, Barcopa, Library Alehouse, Circle Bar (and the list goes on) are all here.  Sometimes I go out just so I have an excuse to pig out at Holy Guacamole after midnight.  Recently, food trucks have also been making the rounds; in fact, on Tuesday nights, they congregate for a street food fest at the farmer’s market parking lot.   My idea of unwinding after work is a miso beef omusubi at Sunny Blue, eaten messily on the sidewalk at one of their little tables that make you feel like you are in kindergarten.  Shrimp tacos enjoyed in the back patio at Enterprise Fish Company also do the trick.  Groundwork Coffee Company, my favorite caffeine fueling station, has an outpost here.