Santa Monica is inviting travellers to immerse themselves in the city’s relaxed, sun-soaked vibe. In 2024, the slow travel movement is taking centre stage, with visitors craving authentic experiences that encourage longer stays and a local’s perspective. From exploring vibrant farmers’ markets to enjoying rejuvenating beach yoga sessions, embracing slow tourism offers a unique way to discover Santa Monica’s hidden gems through the eyes of those who know it best.

Santa Monica: Culinary Exploration

The Lowdown: Known as the birthplace of farm-to-table dining, it would be remiss to explore Santa Monica’s culinary landscape without a trip to the iconic farmer’s markets. Sprawled across several city blocks, the markets overflow with colourful produce and the freshest locally sourced ingredients, with crisp scents and bustling street food stalls enveloping the senses.

Where to Visit: The warmth and friendliness that emanates from the streets of Santa Monica echoes through the iconic farmer’s markets as locals and visitors gather at Downtown Farmers Markets – the largest of the weekly markets – every Wednesday morning. Other markets include Pico Boulevard Farmers Market (Saturday – 1p.m) and Main Street Farmers Market (8.30am-1.30pm). The markets are a great place for celebrity-spotting with many chefs such as Govind Armstrong, the creative mind behind the Michelin-recommended restaurant, The Lobster, regularly visiting in search of seasonally driven ingredients.

Boasting over 400 restaurants, including 18 that are Michelin-recommended, Santa Monica’s commitment to sustainable practices is reflected in its gastronomic landscape with many restaurants emphasising zero-waste. Among those is Birdie G’s, a Michelin-recommended eatery helmed by award-winning chef and co-owner, Jeremy Fox, Socalo, a beachy cantine from award-winning chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken and Papille Gustative, a farm-to-table artisan restaurant. From responsibly sourced ingredients to biodegradable crockery and regenerative practices in the collection and conversion of food scraps, these culinary hotspots minimise their impact on the environment without compromising on quality.

Santa Monica: Wellness Offerings

The Lowdown: With green spaces, fitness classes and spas, Santa Monica enables locals and visitors to prioritise wellness unlike any other place. From toes-in-the-sand fitness classes and oceanfront yoga to rock-and-roll breathwork and superfood facials, Santa Monica stays ahead of the curve with unique experiences that embrace the slow travel movement and reflect the constantly evolving wellness scene.

What to Do: Travellers looking to relax and unwind can head to the ultimate wellbeing centre, Into Me Sea, where a variety of experiences await including float suites, crystal water healing in Galactic Crystal Intention Tubs and meditation workshops. Alternatively, travellers can reconnect at Alchemie, a boutique spa with an emphasis on rejuvenation. With melt-away massages and superfood facials, the expert therapists at Alchemie cater treatments to the unique needs of each individual creating a luxury, bespoke experience that enables travellers to be fully present in the moment.

For those leading an active lifestyle, Santa Monica offers a diverse range of outdoor activities that are guaranteed to add a new dimension to any fitness regime. From surf lessons with Aqua Surf School or paddle boarding with Poseidon Paddle & Surf to cycling and beach volleyball in the birthplace of the two sports, Santa Monica grants travellers the time to recharge physically and mentally.

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