What could be more romantic than wandering arm-in-arm down the beach, breathing in the salty air and gazing out at the Pacific Ocean as it meets the horizon? Not much, which is precisely why couples looking to stoke their flame before a tiny third wheel joins them should make their way to Santa Monica, California. Be prepared: All that warm sunshine and natural beauty is a draw for locals and tourists alike, so you won’t be the only one spreading out a towel on the shore. (Try visiting during the shoulder months of April and September to avoid the biggest crowds.) But even if you don’t have the seaside all to yourself, the intoxicating atmosphere and gorgeous views will make you forget anyone else is around.
Nestled in the sands of the Santa Monica Bay sits Shutters on the Beach, a cozy gray-shingled resort that instantly puts the buzz of busy Los Angeles out of sight and out of mind. Your inviting room will feel like home straight away, with a bed so comfortable that it’s almost impossible to leave—not exactly a bad thing for two lovebirds—but the coastal views just outside your window will prove too hard to resist. (Nightly rates from $645)
Lounging around the pool or on the beach might take up most of your time—and rightfully so with picturesque outlooks and top-notch service. At Shutters you can opt for a private cabana or a laid-back chaise lounge and order up a fruity mocktail to stay cool.
If you need a break from soaking up the sun and surf, there’s plenty to do with the boardwalk at your doorstep.
Slide on your flip-flops, and leisurely cruise the shoreline. (Renting bikes may be tempting, but your bump could throw off your balance.) Or hit the historic Santa Monica Pier for quirky souvenir shops, an amusement park and free historical walking tours. The oceanfront ferris wheel is solar-powered, and it’s guaranteed to put on a fun nightly light show.
Don’t want to stray far from your home away from home? Choose from any of Shutters’ three restaurants that range from elegant dining to beachfront casual. Room service is also available 24 hours a day.
If you find yourself in need of a morning pick-me-up, you can’t go wrong at Milo & Olive. This bakery doles out lattes (with house-made almond milk) and delicious chocolate chip cookies starting at 7 a.m. Pop back by later in the evening for wood-fired pizzas and hand-rolled potato gnocchi— you won’t regret it.
For some of the best tacos in L.A. (when in Rome, right?) you won’t have to venture far. Less than 2 miles away you’ll find La Playita. This funky, no-frills stand is easy to miss, but you’ll be glad you found it as soon as you take that first bite. It’s a popular pick, so expect a wait. Other useful tips: it’s cash only, and there isn’t much in the way of seating, so consider ordering takeout and picnicking on the beach.