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Vacation like a local in Santa Monica

Sunrise from the Santa Monica Pier
Sunrise from the Santa Monica Pier
Mai Koythong

When you think of Santa Monica, perfect beaches, the world-famous pier, and celebrity probably come to mind. Beyond the Hollywood lens is a city comprised of more than just industry titans, and these are just a few exceptional places native to this beautiful city.

M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater
This comedy club unique to Santa Monica is an inexpensive way to enjoy a night of improv and stand-up comics while nursing a $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). House Team Night (every Monday at 8:00 p.m.), where improv teams take suggestions from the audience and act out scenarios under a tight time limit, is always free. Other shows range from $1-$10, and every now and then you may be awarded a surprise visit by established entertainers opening the show.

Bergamot Station
Once a railroad station in the late 1800s to mid-1900s, this complex now houses a large and very diverse collection of art galleries, stores, a museum, and a café. Spend a day walking around from place to place, and perhaps even enjoy free food and wine when stumbling upon the occasional gallery opening.

Angel’s Attic
One of two remaining Victorian houses in Santa Monica, Angel’s Attic is now a two-story museum composed of seven galleries. Expect an impressive collection of dollhouses, dolls, toys, and high tea waiting for you in the garden. A visit to this often-forgotten site will enchant you with its socio-cultural history.

OP Café
Look no further for a local favorite than the OP Café, located on the quiet intersection of Ocean Park Avenue and 32nd Street. Although the café is small, it has plenty of delicious entrees to try and a friendly staff to make you feel right at home.

Sit indoors and take in the nostalgic pictures on the walls or enjoy the consistently warm, sunny weather on the porch with pull-down scrolls to keep you in the shade. Entrees are inexpensive around the $10 mark, and if you go in the mornings from 7-9 am on the weekday, their 2+2+2 meal consisting of pancakes, sausage links, and eggs is only $3.99.

Tacos Por Favor
This restaurant is arguably the best place to get an authentic Mexican meal in Santa Monica for less than $10. Metered parking is available in front of the green building, which is located on Olympic Boulevard and 14th Street.

Quench your thirst with their refreshing watermelon juice, and if you’re extra hungry for a burrito, the Monster Burrito is a must-try. True to its name, this wrap stuffed with chicken and shrimp can last the average person two or three meals. Most meals come with chips, and there is a self-serve station for pico de gallo, green salsa, lemons, and limes.

Try any of these places, and you’ll come away from your visit to Santa Monica with a local’s perspective on the city.

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