Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica

The Third Street Promenade is an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment complex in the downtown area of Santa Monica, California. It is considered a premier shopping and dining district on the Westside and draws crowds from all over the Greater Los Angeles Area. Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean coupled with Los Angeles's mild climate, it is also a popular tourist destination.HistoryThird Street Promenade has been a center of business in Santa Monica since the town's inception in the late 19th century. The Promenade's roots date back to the 1960s when three blocks of Third Street were converted into a pedestrian mall. Although successful, by the late 1970s, the Santa Monica Mall (as it was then called), was in need of modernization and a redesign. A new enclosed shopping center, Santa Monica Place (1980–2007), designed by Frank Gehry was added at the Promenade's southern end. A citywide bond measure was issued and architectural firm ROMA Design Group was hired to redesign Santa Monica Mall. The renamed Third Street Promenade opened on September 16, 1989, and has since become the nationally recognized success that it is today. The project was part of a larger redevelopment effort, encompassing several blocks of Downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monica Place has since been renovated into a new open-air shopping and dining experience that re-opened on August 6, 2010.Although wildly successful, many long-time local residents of Santa Monica have mixed feelings about the Third Street Promenade, particularly about the homogenized stores and restaurants and the loss of the distinct personality and individuality provided by such independent stores as the Midnight Special Bookstore, present in the original mall. This "clone" aspect makes Third Street Promenade almost indistinguishable from any other outdoor plaza in the Los Angeles area (such as Americana at Brand, Old Town Pasadena, or Universal City Walk). Other points of contention for locals center on the increased traffic along Santa Monica Blvd, Wilshire Blvd. and Arizona Avenue, and over-crowded parking structures. Parking appears to be a continuous issue for the residents and visitors of the Third Street Promenade. Startups such as ParkMe.Inc (a Santa Monica-based technology startup) have launched services to ease this ever-present problem.
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  • Downtown Santa Monica features the 3rd St Promenade. No car traffic; just people traffic. There are lots of high end retail stores and high end restaurants. Street parking is close by, namely paid parking lots and structures. Evening at the promenade is absolutely stunning; a must see while in the Los Angeles area. Very tourist friendly.
  • Great outdoor shopping mall with many shops and eateries. Fun place to walk around, shop, grab a bite to eat or dessert. And best of all the beach and the pier / boardwalk are a short stroll down the street. No cars allowed on the main shopping streets...pedestrian only. Parking can be tough during popular hours. There is street parking but make sure to pay attention to the signs...they are strictly enforced with tickets. There are also a number of paid parking lots and garages near by.
  • Beautiful beaches and great place for walking, but the stores and restaurants in downtown Santa Monica aren't great. It's largely big box stores and national channels without much personality. The main parts of the area get very crowded as well, so finding some breathing room or good, cheap food is a challenge. Best to visit off peak.
  • Downtown Santa Monica......That area you Love & Love to Hate! It's close to Beach...aka Water! Open Mall & 3rd Street....But it's turned into Congested mob of Tourists and the Same non-interesting Over-Priced Stores...... AGAIN! Please, please, please! If your going to do anything.... rethink it for the Future! Thanks!
  • What an absolutely beautiful place. All the shops are close to each other and the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming. You’re so close to the ocean you can smell the salt in the water. We will definitely be coming back here when we return to California.

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Where to stay in Santa Monica

Santa Monica's hotels range from luxury to boutique, offering more than 3,500 rooms located at or near the waterfront. Staying at a beachfront resort can cost a bundle, so if you have a limited budget in mind, consider accommodations away from the water. Hotels just a few blocks from the ocean offer comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi and cable TV at a fraction of the cost charged by their beachfront equivalents. For an even more affordable stay, consider one of the city's inns or motels.
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