15 Best Places to Eat in Santa Monica Every Foodie Should Have on Their Radar

April 29, 2015 by Heather Domingo

So many amazing places to eat in Santa Monica…

But where to start?

If you scour Yelp you’ll be met with seemingly countless options for dining in what, at first blush, seems like a relatively small area.

This is where we come in with a list of our 15 best spots to eat in Santa Monica for foodies of all tastes and dispositions, whether you’re looking for finer dining or just want to scarf down one of the best burgers in the cities.  Basically, it’s the foodie cliffnotes you’ve been looking for.

Enjoy the list (presented in no particular order) and, as always, if we have omissions you feel deserve mention let us know in the comments below!

1. Cha Cha Chicken

Beachy vibes and colorful sights, Cha Cha Chicken serves Caribbean food that are traditional and some with a Latin twist. Located near Main Street, Cha Cha Chicken is a place to hang out with your friends, loosen up, and try tropical cuisine. The restaurant’s signature dish, Cha Cha Chicken, is smothered in what is called Jamaican Jerk sauce, the national sauce of Jamaica. If you’re down to try Caribbean cuisine in a fun atmosphere, we highly recommend you stop by!

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2. Rustic Canyon

Inspired and named by the founder Josh Loeb’s dinners at his home in Rustic Canyon, this “wine bar and seasonal kitchen” has a changing menu of farmer market inspired dishes. Produce is usually sourced from locally grown farmers and the protein selections come from quality brands like Niman Ranch, making this place a quality dining pick. Since its opening the eatery has been adored by neighborhood locals and foodies alike.

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3. Shaka Shack Burgers

Shaka in Hawaiian culture is meant to convey the Hawaiian spirit of hanging loose and this cool shack  exemplifies just that. Located on Ocean Ave and 17th, Shaka Shack makes burgers prepared by Chef Lisa Stalvey who was trained under Wolfgang Puck. Choose from a variety of “good for you” proteins such as grass fed angus, kobe beef, natural chicken patties, Alaskan salmon patties and more!

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4. Tar & Roses

At Tar & Roses the focus is on the wood burning oven churning out mouth watering and adventurous dishes to anxious diners. Do yourself a favor and order the popcorn, probably one of the most ordered appetizer on the menu, the perfectly popped corn is tossed in brown sugar, chili and crisp bacon its a revelation! Bone marrow is awesome and you can’t go wrong with any protein or veggie dishes there. The beer and wine menu is massive for folks who like to enjoy a libation with their meal.

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5. Melisse

With countless accolades from Zagat, Forbes, Gayot and holding two Michelin stars Melisse is a French restaurant known for possessing first class dining, an elegant ambiance, and gracious service.  Melisse is a must try for foodies who are looking to get a little fancy.  For a complete experience try their tasting menu.

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6. Mercado

Delicious modern Mexican cuisine can be found in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, Mercado happily serves contemporary Mexican food with signature dishes like their carnitas, created from a recipe handed down through generations. Tortillas are made my hand daily and produce is sourced from local farmers markets. Oh and did we mention… they have 60 top selections of tequila?

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7. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery

This one stop shop has been open since 1925. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery is a traditional hot spot, popular for its large portions, and it even sells pasta, bread, salads and desserts. Order their most popular sandwich the godmother!

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8. The Lobster

If you want a classic American seafood experience – this is what you’re looking for. The Lobster serves up whole live Maine lobsters, a raw menu and caviar prepared by Executive Chef Collin Crannell. The glass walls of the establishment provides guest with a wonderful view of the ocean and pier. They even have a “Happiest Hour” where you can get a lobster roll, crab taquitos and pork belly sliders, YUM!

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 9. Father’s Office

Known for its juicy burgers and a wide selection of beer, Father’s Office lives up to the hype thats still going after many years now. Burgers with balsamic glazed onions, tender beef, and creamy sauces are what keeps customers keep coming back for more. Although the chefs do not allow substitutions, most people say it is not necessary because they’re made just right!

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10. Hillstone

Hillstone offers everything from sashimi to American cheeseburgers to grilled trout. One of the appetizer favorites is the grilled artichoke with rémoulade. If you’re hungry for nearly anything, Hillstone is a great place with such a wide variety of choices; all you need to do is just come with a big appetite!

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Hillstone Santa Monica

Credit: Hillstone Santa Monica on Facebook

11. Capo

A modern Italian restaurant, Capo not only serves up great cuisine but has an award winning wine list with over 1500 selections. The restaurant serves homemade pastas, fresh seafood and fireplace-grilled meats. The white corn ravioli is stand out dish for regular patrons. An intimate ambiance and great service makes this place a perfect place for a date night.

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12. BOA Steakhouse

As you can tell, the specialty here is the meat. Although a little on the pricy side, you get what you pay for. BOA has a wide range of choices for each part of a menu, and their cut meats are served with their home made specialty sauces. Boa is located right on Ocean Ave, making it a short walking distance to the beach and promenade.

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13. Stout Burger

If you think you’re a burger connoisseur, you have to try Stout Burgers. Wash down your meal with their great selection of craft beers from around the world. People love the “six weeker” and the bread pudding for dessert. Pro tip for the budgeters out there- Monday through Friday from 4-6pm is happy hour where the entire menu is half off!

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14. The Penthouse

If you want a swanky L.A. experience, the Penthouse is perched atop the Huntley Hotel with priceless 360 degree views of the ocean, city and beyond. The interior design is strikingly beautiful, and the menu is vast from breakfast to cocktail hour to dinner options. The view plus an affordable menu makes this place one of the most popular in Santa Monica.

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15. The Upper West

There is the Upper East Side… and there is also The Upper West. The Upper West is an American cuisine that constantly changes their menu using unique ingredients from all around the world. Executive Chef Shipp serves up comfort food under international influences, try the braised short rib, bread pudding and the blue cheese fries.

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Got other suggestions for the best places to eat in Santa Monica? Let us know in the comments below!

Things To Do

9 Excellent L.A. Hikes With No Trail Costs and No Parking Fees

March 11, 2015 by Heather Domingo

There are endless options in Los Angeles for outdoor exercise, especially hiking trails, but even some of those may come at a cost. Parking permits, street meters, trail passes… there’s plenty of hidden money-drains to dissuade those who may be on the fence about getting their workout by exploring nature.

But have no fear! We’re here to eliminate all potential monetary excuses with a quick rundown of some of the best hikes in Los Angeles that have free parking options and no trail fees. As long as you can manage a car ride or bus fare, you’ll be good to go. Just be sure to bring water, sunscreen, and a good pair of shoes, and you’re on your way!

[RELATED: Rep Los Angeles on Your Next Hike in an Official ‘We Like L.A.’ T-Shirt!]

Each hike mentioned below contains a brief overview along with information on distance, elevation gain and total duration.

There’s also a link for each hike to get more details on how to approach and plan for it.

The list is not 100% exhaustive but it’s a good start and we hope you find it helpful.

See you on the trail!

Hollywood Sign from Mt. Lee

Credit: tenaciousme via flickr

1. Mt. Lee via Bronson Canyon

If you’ve never hiked to the Hollywood Sign, then you need to put Mt. Lee on your L.A. bucket list. The trail via Bronson Canyon is one of multiple routs you can take, but the upside here is that there is a huge dirt lot just a few hundred feet from the trailhead that can accommodate large crowds on the weekend. Your route will offer a steady, moderate incline as you wind your way to the top, but the journey will be well worth it when you spy an expansive view of Los Angeles from a perch above the fence-off Sign. Note: Parking can still get pretty crowded on weekends, plus the trail is wide open and offers little shade, so all the reason more to get their early!

Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1098 ft
Time: ~3 hours
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2. Griffith Observatory Hike(s)

Whether you want a quick run or a long walk to socialize with some friends, this hike offers various connecting routes along the mountain for all levels. The west trail approach is your best bet to get free parking (usually to be found on Fern Dell or a surrounding street). When going up to the Griffith Observatory, it may be a bit steep but once you reach the Observatory you will know it’s worth it – the Griffith Observatory is a museum free for all visitors. An exercise that leads to a scientific museum? Count me in!

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 580 ft
Time: ~0.75 hours
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Griffith Park Observatory Hike

Credit: PowerRabbit via flickr

3. Sandstone Peak

Sandstone claims to be at the highest point of the Santa Monica Mountains, at 3,111 ft. You can only imagine the beauty from that point. It is recommended you start this hike early in the morning, to chase the sun shining over the mountain range. To get here, you just have to drive on the marvelous PCH, make a right on Yerba Buena, and head to Circle X Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains, and start up the Backbone Trail toward Sandstone Peak. In total, the trail sums up to about 7 miles – 7 miles of a heavenly hike that is.

Distance: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Time: ~3 hours
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4. Solstice Canyon

In the heart of Malibu, you can use Solstice Canyon for a family-friendly stroll and a picnic or a moderate hike. Along the way, you can find a small waterfall (yes, even with our CA drought) and ruins of old buildings and statues. Parking here is free, but the lot tends to fill up quick. As an alternative you can take the 534 bus and get dropped off near PCH only a few hundred feet from the trail head.

Distance: 6 miles (Modern Hiker estimates that to just get to Tropical Terrace and back is only 3.2 miles round trip)
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Time: ~2 hours
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5. Los Liones Trail in Pacific Palisades

Big and blue is all you will see at the top of this hike. There is plenty of street parking which is easy to find at the trailhead. The trail is not too difficult with its steady incline, and do keep in mind that dogs are not allowed! Los Liones Drive is the second left off Sunset Blvd from PCH and is just 1/3 of a mile from the beach. It’s true that Los Angeles has some air pollution problems, but you may change your mind once you reach the top.

Distance: 7.28 miles
Elevation Gain: 1292 ft
Time: ~4 hours
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6. Echo Mountain / Inspiration Point

Rich in history, the Sam Merrill trail used to lead to a hotel built in the late 1800’s by Thaddeus Lowe. Not exciting enough? By the time you finish your hike, you will truly hear for yourself how Echo Mountain got its name. Voted by USA Today as one of the “Ten Great North American Hikes,” you can see expanding views of Altadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles proper beyond. Bring your hiking shoes, sunscreen, and head out just north of Altadena!

Distance: 10.4 miles*
Elevation Gain: 2740 ft
Time: 4.75 hours
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*UPDATE: There is a truncated version of the hike you can do if you just go to the hotel ruins and back. See link to Modern Hiker for all details.

Sam Merrill Trail Echo Mountain

Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain. Credit: Mitch Barrie via flickr

7. Cahuenga Peak

Utilize the free street parking along Lake Hollywood Drive and hike a paved quarter mile up Wonder View Drive to the start of the trail. From there the climb is a bit steep and rugged, but also relatively quick, and well worth it to enjoy the view. Overlooking Burbank and Hollywood, there is a single tree (the Wisdom Tree) and beneath it, visitors can leave notes, take photos, or just have a well deserved rest.

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 872 ft
Time: ~2 hours
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8. Escondido Falls

A waterfall close to PCH in Malibu? Yep, it’s true. The hike to the fall is nearly four miles long. Don’t let the beginning fool you; the start may seem easy because of the clear, paved road, but you will eventually be doing incline in wooded areas. If the water is high enough, you may even have to jump from rock to rock. If you choose to climb the waterfall to go behind it, be prepared and be prepared well. A little tip: If you want to view the waterfall at its fullest, go in the early months of the year or after a good rainstorm. Although there is a small, free parking lot near the trail head you may end having to park on PCH, which is fine, as long as you keep an eye out for any no-parking signage.

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 416 ft
Time: ~2 hours
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9. Runyon Canyon

Runyon is one of the most popular trails in Los Angeles (some would say too popular) because for you can trade a relatively short trek for an absolutely gorgeous view of the city. Dogs are welcome, and there are even acres of off-leash areas if you want to bring your fido along. Just keep an eye out to make sure no hipsters accidentally bump into you as they attempt to take the perfect selfie.  Note: Street parking is available, but will be a bit nightmarish at peak hours!

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 675 ft
Time: ~1.25 hours
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Have any updates on the parking situation at any of the hikes listed above? Let us know in the comments below so readers can stay updated!

Things To Do

14 Fun Things to Do in Venice Beach Next Time You’re in The Neighborhood

January 16, 2015 by Heather Domingo

If you know anything about Venice Beach you know it encompasses a variety of entertainers, artistic venues, exclusive boutiques, and eccentric personalities. In nutshell, things can get a little weird out in Venice.

Not that this is a bad thing.

But if you happen to be traveling to the area from out of town, taking a drive along the coast, or maybe you’re angeleno just thinking about planning a day over on the west side, here’s a list of fun things to do in Venice Beach that’ll keep you on your toes and encountering (hopefully) something new and different.


[RELATED: 17 Fun Things To Do in Santa Monica Next Time You’re in the Neighborhood]

1. Admire the Venice Canals

An idea that was built in the early 1900s, the canals are located in one of Venice’s most affluent neighborhoods. Truly inspired by Venice, Italy, there are several blocks of canals that run between multi-million dollar homes. It is a place of tranquility to escape the craziness of Venice, and it’s important to be respectful as it is a residential neighborhood.

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2. Stroll the Venice Boardwalk

Venice Beach ocean front walk is one of the most diverse in the world. It has restaurants, spas, gyms, street entertainers, magicians, and skaters. It does not matter what time of the year you visit the boardwalk – there are always entertainers you may remember for a lifetime.

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Walking in Venice Beach

Walking in Venice. Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

3. See the Sea Life Up Close

The Venice Oceanarium is a “museum without walls.” This non – profit organization hosts weekly exhibits on the pier where you can view sea creatures up close. The group also holds other events such as after school programs to the beach, grunion runs, and boat trips.

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4. Tour Venice on Foot

This Real to Reel Vintage Walking Tour of Venice isn’t just any normal walking tour – while passing through the city’s gems, you can watch movies on an iPad with the guide that were filmed on the exact site you walk on using over 104 years of film snippets to fuel the experience. The tour was also voted Los Angeles Magazine’s “Best Walking Tour” of 2012 and 2013. So whether you’re a local or totally new in town, there’s always something to learn about the history of Venice Beach, and this is a fun way to explore it!

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Keep in mind there are also self-guided walking tours you can check out, which are listed on

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Venice Beach Boardwalk. Credit: Peteris Lacis via flickr

5. A Little Fishing at the Pier

The Venice pier is known for being one of the best places to take pictures at during sunset. If you’re not really into going into the ocean or are too overwhelmed by the colorful environment of the Venice Boardwalk, the pier is a nice place for a casual stroll. The pier is also a popular destination for fisherman since it is not as crowded as other piers.

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6. Go Thrifting!

Venice, CA is home to some of the best dressed people in L.A. If you would rather not spend your paycheck on one piece of clothing in Beverly Hills, you should seriously consider thrift shopping on main street in Venice near Pacific Ave because its location get an exclusive access to rad designs that you wouldn’t be able to find in other parts of Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for specific recommendations, try American Replay over on Lincoln Blvd.

7. Drinks at High Rooftop Lounge

High Rooftop Lounge is perched atop Hotel Erwin and is the only rooftop bar and lounge in Venice Beach (It also ranks as one of our top 10 rooftop bars in all of Los Angeles). It has nightly drink specials and live DJS, perfect for a friends night out. The menu is locally inspired – making it a perfect Venice nightlife activity.

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Hotel Erwin Rooftop Bar View of the Venice Boardwalk

View from High Lounge at the Hotel Erwin. Photo Credit: Amatullah Guyot

8. Explore the Mosaic Tile House

For more than two decades a Venice couple has been transforming a 1940’s house into a living work of art by plastering every surface (both inside and out) with ceramic tiles, glass, mirror shards, and other found objects. The result is visually sensational, and you can visit it for free (by appointment only).

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Mosaic Tile House Interior

The Mosaic Tile House interior. Credit: Amatullah Guyot via flickr

[RELATED: 40 Fun & Free Things to Do in Los Angeles Every Angeleno Should Try Once]

9. A Meal With a Side of Gratitude

Popular among celebrities and long time locals, Café Gratitude is an all-organic restaurant like no other. Their menu focuses on health and celebrating liveliness, which creates such a positive environment for customers. Whether you’re new to organic food or have had this lifestyle for years, Café Gratitude has a unique setting and cheerful service to brighten your day.

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10. Take In a Freakshow (Literally)

As mentioned before, the crowd in Venice, is much different than the rest of LA. If you’re into watching things that make the hairs on your body stand up, the freak show is a great place for your taste.

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11. Show Yourself Off – or not – at Muscle Beach

This is the perfect place for hot shots to show off. Right along the boardwalk there is an open, outdoor gym for guys who think they are tough enough to workout in front of hundreds of people. Many people come here to display their body, get a workout in, or just to watch others.

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12. Eat Italian at C&O’s Trattoria

C&O’s is a local favorite Italian restaurant, located very near to the ocean front walk. One of the favorites in the restaurant is C&O’s popular garlic rolls that endlessly attract the same customers. It’s a festive setting, which even has nightly Italian sing-alongs where all the customers and waiters become one making Venice Beach seem like a true Italian city.

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13. Sip coffee at the TOMS flagship store

If you like TOMS shoes, you will surely want to go to its flagship store because it is also a coffee bar and a juice cooler! The store is widely used for community networking with a back patio for cooling off and taking in the LA beach sunshine.

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14. Shop on Abbot Kinney Blvd

Abbot Kinney is the famous block full of independent boutiques and organic coffee shops. Abbot Kinney is especially crowded on First Friday’s which is an event that happens on every first Friday of the month where dozens of popular food trucks park and you can socialize with people from all over LA.

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What are some things you like to do in Venice Beach? Let us know in the comments below!


10 Local Student Discounts Available in L.A. To Help Scholars Save Some Dollars

January 4, 2015 by Heather Domingo

We all know the financial stress of being a college student. However, being on a budget shouldn’t keep you from making the most of your life while in your twenties. Thankfully, in Los Angeles, many businesses are considerate enough to offer discounts for college students.

Every college student needs a break from school, the internship, part time job, or all of the above. Here is a list of places that offer student discounts with the show of a school I.D.

Oh, and if “discounted” still isn’t cheap enough for you, maybe you should try another list we created of 40 fun & free activities you can take advantage of in L.A.

Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library

Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library. Credit: Deborah Schander via flickr

1. Huntington Library

The Huntington Library boasts one of the most impressive collections of rare books, manuscripts, and art in the world, plus their plus range of botanical gardens and exhibits make for a great day just hanging out and walking around (hint: great date spot!). Students with a valid I.D. can enjoy entry for just $13 on weekends and $12 on weekdays, which is $10 and $8 less respectively than the normal adult admission price for the same times. Also, if $13 is still too steep, the first Thursday of the month is free!

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2. Enjoy Universal Studios

If you’d rather spend your free time at the entertainment capital of Los Angeles riding roller coasters or going on the behind the scenes tour at the world’s largest working movie studio, Universal Studios is for you. For about $80, you can get a day pass PLUS 12 months free admission to Universal Studios in Hollywood. Check out the full list of schools that partner with Universal Studios via the link below.

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3. Let’s Climb!

If you’d rather let out your energy doing indoor rock climbing, Rockcreation in Santa Monica gives a discounted rate for students. Rock climbing is a healthy activity for students who need their time to distress and forget about school for a little while.

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4. Thursday at AMC Theaters

On Thursdays, nearly all of AMC theaters offer a discounted ticket rate when you show your college I.D. There is nothing quite like the relaxation of watching a good movie with a friend.

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5. Los Angeles Ballet

If you want a more artistic kind of entertainment, the Los Angeles Ballet has become recognized as a world class ballet company. With a college ID, you can get 20% off a originally priced ticket and enjoy a show of some of the finest dancers in the city.

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6. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall are classic musical performances from Disney sing – alongs to world-class pianists. Online, you can receive special offers from LA Phil Student Insiders, which is a group to give students access to some of the best seats at the Concert Hall.

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7. Indoor Skydive at iFly Hollywood

Are you a thrill seeker? Want to get away from all the essays and bio labs by flying away? Well you actually can! At iFly Hollywood, you can do indoor skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel that’s allows you to freely float in mid air. From Monday to Thursday, students can get a to flight package for $40. If flying twice just isn’t enough for you, it’s just $15 after your second flight.

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8. Student Discounts at LACMA

Look further into LACMA than the famous lamp posts. Los Angeles County Museum of Art offers various collections of art, exhibitions, and public programs. Students get $5 off the original ticket price of $15, making it just $10 to enjoy one of L.A.’s most popular museums. Keep in mind that LACMA is also FREE on weekdays after 3pm if you’re a L.A. County resident, plus the second Tuesday of every month is free all-day.

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9. Games at Dave & Busters

Dave and busters is a place for students to have a drink, play games, and temporarily forget about the stress of school. It’s a restaurant, bar, arcade, and game watching place all under one roof. Every Thursday, college students can get $10 of free game play!

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10. Yoga Time

Find peace through the practice of yoga. Amidst the stress of school, it’s important to regain strength not only in the body, but work with a clear mind. Liberation yoga located near West Hollywood offers a free first class and 10 classes for $105 as a student rate.

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What other student discounts in Los Angeles do you know about? Share you knowledge with us in the comments below!

Things To Do

17 Awesome Things To Do in L.A. on a Rainy Day

December 16, 2014 by Heather Domingo

UPDATE: Check out our newest guide to rainy day to-dos in Los Angeles here.

Rain? In Los Angeles? Yes, the city known for its perfect sunshine actually does get rain every now and then. But light or heavy rain shouldn’t keep you from doing awesome things.

Luckily, L.A. has as many fun activities indoors as we do outside. If you feel like spending the rainy days doing something productive, check out some of the below suggestions to keep you active and entertained, even when storms are brewing in the southland.

List starts after the jump!

[RELATED: The Best Places to Eat in L.A. on a Rainy Day]

Raining in Los Angeles

Credit: Ryan Vaarsi via flickr

1. Explore the California Science Center

The Science Center is a place for people of all ages to spend their day. Have the children expand their knowledge on the environment, all while being able to have bonding moments. The museum is free, unless you want to go into some of the exhibits. To check out what exhibits they do have:

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Oh, and if you’re looking for other free museums to check out during the rainy times, check this list.

2. Find a Cozy Bookstore

What better excuse than a rainy day to curl up and find a cozy spot inside a local book store and melt the hours away reading to your heart’s content.

Need some ideas on where to go? Check out this article:

The 12 Best Bookstores in Los Angeles Every Bibliophile Should Have on Their Radar

3. Go Thrifting!

A little rain could never turn any woman (or man) away from shopping. On a rainy day in LA, however, it would be difficult to enjoy places like The Grove, the Glendale Galleria, because many of their stores are located outdoors and are really meant for customers to enjoy the weather. Also, if you’re on a budget or simply don’t want to spend all your money on high end stores like (the Beverly Center) try shopping at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, one of the bigger indoor malls!

The 12 Flat-Out Best Thrift Stores in Los Angeles

4. Give Indoor Roller-Skating a Try

This vintage vibe rink is one of the last few existing roller rinks in Los Angeles, so plan a trip while you still can! If you want to try something different or feel like your part of the 70s groove, check it out with some friends! It has been featured on TV shows like Glee and Dancing With the Stars.

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5. Do a Real-Life Room Escape Game

Have you ever played those online maze games or room escape apps on your phone? Believe it or not, they have come to life. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a place where you have to use your survival and problem solving skills to escape from each room. It’s a thrilling brainteaser that will keep you on your toes!

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6. Meditate to Some Find Inner Peace

Want to stop worrying about the future days and focus on the present? Consider doing meditation inspired by ancient Tibetan culture. With L.A.’s usual traffic jams and our daily busy schedules, meditating at the Shambhala Mediation Center will help radiate positive feeling in the midst of challenges. The center even offers free public meditation sitting hours in two Los Angeles locations: West LA and Eagle Rock!

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7. Make Pottery

Try your hand at pottery making at Bitter Root Pottery! You never know what you’re truly good at until you try. How cool would it be have a ceramic in your home and say you handmade it? All you need is time and some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty for the class. Plus, Bitter Root has been featured on the History Channel and MTV, so it must be one of the best!

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8. Take a Cooking Class

Yes, I said it. After all, knowing how to cook will make you a better potential wife/husband. Foodstory even offers a cooking party, inspired by a Japanese menu, but it is possible to choose which dishes you would like to make. Located in downtown Los Angeles, this place offers a variety of workshops such as classes on Japanese table manner and etiquette, how to make Japanese curry and one of L.A.’s favorite food – sushi!

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9. Watch a Movie… With a Menu

If you would rather relax on a rainy day and watch a movie on the big screen all while having a full course meal, well you can! An AMC dine in theatre in Marina Del Rey caters to your appetites all in a push of a button! There are AMC dine in theatres for a full family, and there are private ones with a full sized bar. And if Marina Del Rey is a little far for you, then try hitting up one of the 10 best theaters in Los Angeles for a vintage movie experience.

10. Get Your Parkour On at Tempest Freerunning Academy

This is California’s first and only facility where you can test out your parkour skills. It is available for people of all ages, in asafe environment with coaches practicing safe and healthy training methods. You don’t have to be a trained ninja to enjoy the facility; you just need gym clothes and tennis shoes. There are two locations – Chatsworth and Hawthorne.

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11. Have a Classic Tea Date at the Peninsula in Beverly HIlls

For those of you who are looking for luxurious way of spending the rainy day, go to The Living Room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Spend a romantic evening in a lovely environment socializing with your friends and family. If you decide tea just isn’t enough, The Living Room also offers finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones.

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12. Get resourceful at the Los Angeles Public Library

Rainy days and a good book is an exquisite combination to enlighten the mind. As if the detailed exterior isn’t enough, the inside of this building is even more impressive. You will be surprised when you walk inside this building near the heart of downtown LA. The amount of collections will astound your sight. Be careful though, you might spend more hours in here than you plan!

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13. Indulge in Some Delicious Cake

When it’s cold and rainy outside, what better way to warm up then with a some delicious baked goods? Might I recommend visiting one of We Like L.A.’s 12 shops to find the best cakes in all of Los Angeles. Seriously, how could you go wrong? 😉

Portos Bakery

Ports Bakery. Credit: Marco Antonio Torres via flickr

14. Climb a Rock (Indoors!)

Join the Los Angeles fitness hype and test your upper body strength to indoor rock climbing. Rockreation gym has 10,000 sq. feet of climbing wall, where you can take classes or free climb. Whether you are new to rock climbing or have been doing it for years – this exercise is surely an efficient use of a rainy day in L.A.!

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15. Treat Your Body and Go to a Spa

This what many people dream as the ultimate luxury. Voda spa in West Hollywood offers spas, facials, scrubs, salons, and other services. It is possible to choose what kind of massage you want to – whether it be a hot stone massage or a Russian bear. Spas are an excellent way of feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and reinvigorated.

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16. Get inspired at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum

This museum provides the public to learn more about historic fashion and its relationship to society. Throughout the year, they host different exhibitions for people to try out so that every time a person walks in – a new experience is also made. The museums have held exhibitions such as Game of Thrones fashion, Glee, Alice in Wonderland, and Gossip Girl. What’s even greater? Admission is free.

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17. Enjoy a Potent Potable

Sometimes when it’s raining outside, it’s just a great excuse to stay inside and have a drink!

If you’re looking for a place to take refuge from the rain where you can be ensured a great experience, try visiting one of the 14 best craft beer bars in L.A. or maybe check out one of the spots where we think you can get the best cocktails in the city.

Or if you’re really feeling adventurous, try you hand at one of the best speakeasy style bars in Los Angeles.

What are your favorite thing to do in L.A. when it rains? Let us know in the comments below!

Things To Do

17 Fun Things To Do in Santa Monica Next Time You’re in the Neighborhood

November 24, 2014 by Heather Domingo

Heading over to the westside of Los Angeles.? Have you recently moved near the area and want to explore the local attractions? Or maybe you’re just visiting from out of town.

Whatever the scenario, you’ll be pleased to find that the possibilities for entertainment are as limitless as the sunshine.

Whether you’re looking to get some exercise, find some killer photo ops, or explore a hidden gem or two, check out the below list of things to do in Santa Monica to help get you started.

Rundown starts after the jump (and remember we’re talking about Santa Monica proper here so for purposes of this list we’ll exclude items from cities like Venice or even locations such as the Getty Center / Villa).

[RELATED: 40 Fun & Free Things to Do in Los Angeles]

Santa Monica Pier Beach Walk

Credit: Ron Kroetz via flickr

1. Take a Walk on Third Street Promenade

The promenade is popular among both tourists and locals. You can do endless shopping, but if you get tired or have to wait for someone who spends hours in one store, the promenade also has talented street performers to keep you entertained. The newly updated mall also has a dining terrace where you can eat gelato while people watch on the outdoor top floor.

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2. Enjoy Sunshine at Pacific Park on the Pier

Pacific Park is one of the fewest places where you can ride carnival rides even when it’s not fair season. Pacific Park holds the world’s only solar powered ferris wheel, a roller coaster overlooking the ocean, and other fun family rides all on the pier.

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[RELATED: The 16 Best People Watching Spots in Los Angeles]

3. People Watch at the Beach

On the left side of the pier facing the ocean, you can find some of Los Angeles’ most athletic citizens displaying their talents as they balance on one another and do triple flips over each other. If you want to practice your own gymnastic skills, there are a set of rings and balance beams for you to try!

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4. Visit the Bermagot Station Arts Center

If you’re looking to fulfill the right side of your brain and let your artistic side run wild, visit the Bermagot Station which holds multiple galleries, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and a café. What makes this art complex better? It’s free to the public.

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5. Shopping on Main Street

Main street not only has dozens of unique shopping stores (both thrift and high-end), but it hosts the beloved Urth Café, Angel City Books where you can buy both books and vinyl records, and on Sunday morning, check out Farmer’s Market ( & catch some celebrity sightings).

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6. Instagram at the International Chess Park

Settle in and play chess just south of the bier along Ocean Front Walk at this little park, with a human sized chess board. Test your brain to other challengers or have a fun photo shoot with huge chess pieces (sweet Instagram potential here)!

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7. Hang Out at the Annenberg Community Beach House

Set on a 5 acre beach front property, the Annenrbery Community Beach House started as a mansion built by William Hearst and has now become a public space for families to visit for free. Although the grounds of the house are free, there is a small fee to use the public pool.

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8. Relax at Palisades Park

This park is different than most – it stretches along the bluff overlooking the Santa Monica beach, is filled with art and sculpture, has plenty of trees to relax under and gardens to have picnics, and the best part is the food trucks that stay there to satisfy your hunger. It is conveniently located between the ocean and the promenade – letting you rest between the best of both worlds.

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9. Exercise on the Boardwalk

Along the Santa Monica Boardwalk you have options to run with your dog, skate, bike, even rent a segway to enjoy the ocean breeze. It would be nearly impossible to get bored with so many performers and sights all around you.

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10. Climb the Santa Monica Stairs

In the middle of multi-million dollar properties, there is a hot spot among celebrities and locals that can give you one of the best lower body workouts. They are located on 4th St and Adelaide Dr.

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11. Learn to Fly Trapeze

At the Trapeze School New York on the pier, you can take a class to learn how to throw yourself 23 feet in the air! Who doesn’t love a thrill?

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12. Catch a Free Comedy Show

Looking for laughs? You’ll want to check free performances of The Grind at Mi’s Westside Comedy Theater. Free improv shows on Mondays at 8PM and 10PM and Thursdays at 10PM followed by an improv jam. Listed as one of our 10 best free comedy shows in Los Angeles.

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13. Have a Drink at a Rooftop Bar

Looking for a cocktail with a view? Try Suite 700, which sits perched atop the Shangri-LA Hotel in Santa Monica. With panoramic views of the city and ocean, we list this spot as one of the 10 best rooftop bars in all of Los Angeles. A perfect date spot if you’re looking to impress.

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14. Explore the Marine Life at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

For just $5, you can feel a spiky sea urchin, a sea star, and get close to a swell shark at the Santa Monica Aquarium, directly below the carousel near the pier. Learn about the marine creatures that live in the ocean for an educational experience!

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Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Credit: Tracie Hall via flickr

 15. See Santa Monica Through the Camera Obscura

Next to the entrance of the pier in Palisades Park, there is a building called “Camera Obscura.” In it, you will pass through a senior recreation center and into a room where you can take a look through a camera that was built over a hundred years ago. What you will find can be left to the imagination – this place is a hidden gem amongst the hustle of Santa Monica.

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16. Plane Watch at Santa Monica Airport

At the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, there are two observation decks, where you can not only see the planes land and take off at a close view, but you can bring the family and have the little one sit inside the cockpit of a real airplane! Located on the property is the Museum of Flying, where you can learn about the history of flying and have your children learn with interactive exhibitions.

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17. Shop Fresh at the Farmers Market

Shop at the largest grower-only certified Farmers Market in Southern California on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The market was first opened in 1981 and has been such a huge success that on top of selling high quality fresh produce, the Sunday morning market also includes booths and activities for children!

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Though we highlighted some great stuff, there’s always more things to do in Santa Monica than you can list on one page. Let us know in the comments below what some of your favorite things to do are!