By Ashley Huggins
One of my favorite places to go here is Santa Monica; going there actually makes me feel like I live in California. The ocean, the pier – it’s all a stark contrast from the towering financial buildings and hotels of downtown L.A. Thus, on Friday, suffering from wardrobes in need of new sundresses and sandals, my roommate and I ventured west on the 10 for some shopping at the promenade.
Third Street Promenade is an interesting place. Restaurants and stores line the pedestrianized street, frequently packed with large crowds of people. The people you find in Santa Monica are quite unique, though not as eccentric as Venice, perhaps: there are the locals, of course, just coming to shop for an afternoon; the tourists, attracted by the easy access to the beach; the dancers, singers, comedians, etc. performing in the street; and the various conspiracy theorists and palm readers who have set up tables on the busy sidewalks. People watching can be a highly amusing activity here; among my favorites from this most recent trip include a tiny puppy wearing a pink tutu and a comedian offering “guaranteed laughter” while charging a dollar per joke. Also, I’m a sucker for the random, but endearing, décor of the promenade. Dinosaur plant fountains? Check. Year-round blue Christmas lights on trees? Naturally. And who could forget the assortment of statues cluttering the walkways: dolphins, books, tennis shoes, a sandwich…Basically, I’m a fan. Though I’m not sure why I feel this way, somehow it’s all pretty adorable.
Santa Monica beach itself isn’t particularly nice; it’s much too crowded and touristy to be completely pleasant. Being close enough to the Pacific to hear the waves crashing and feel the cool breeze, though, makes me happy enough. Thus, I prefer to visit other beaches when I truly crave a day at the beach, and instead save Santa Monica for shopping and dinner outings. And on days like Friday, when I returned home with a new dress and leftover curry, these adventures feel like a success.