By Jonathan Ruiz

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 4.44.52 PMSanta Monica is the perfect place to combine the best of beach lifestyle and cultural diversity for those who love to be near the ocean. Whether its mid-July or mid-November the weather will frequently be in the 70s at the beach; however even those few dramatic weather days in Santa Monica can be extraordinarily beautiful.

609 E. Channel Road: Perfectly positioned near the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon lies an alluring 3.3 acre estate, one of the most romantic estates to be offered in Los Angeles in many years. » View Listing

Most weekends – schedule permitting, given today’s rapidly changing real estate market – I can be found enjoying one of the many opportunities Santa Monica offers to exercise outdoors: usually either hiking Paseo Miramar with its spectacular views from Downtown LA to Catalina and beyond or running on the bike path right on the beach anywhere from the Santa Monica-Venice border, past the famous Santa Monica Pier to the Bel Air Bay Club, depending how ambitious I’m feeling that day. Though many people prefer a workout at the infamous “Santa Monica Stairs” with their often entertaining people watching.

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 4.40.43 PMAfter a weekend workout, a high protein breakfast with my toes in the sand at Back on the Beach or at Marix Tex Mex – with my favorite server Joh – always hits the spot and I don’t feel like I’m under-dressed in my running clothes. When I’m meeting with clients, great brunch locations are Cora’s Coffee Shoppe – try the carnitas tacos! – or Marmalade which has everything from fresh coffee and baked goods to sandwiches to unbelievable chicken enchiladas that will prepare you for a great weekend nap!

If you’re in the mood for a more lively night in Santa Monica, plan a dinner at FIG at the Fairmont Hotel and then wander over to Bungalow, an indoor/outdoor bar and lounge that is a really fun place to meet friends – both old and new, but plan ahead and get on the list because otherwise the long line is not going to be a fun way to spend your evening.

On Sunday afternoons when I finish looking at Open Houses, I can often be found sitting outside at Blue Plate Oysterette (BPO to the locals) for a beer or a glass of wine along with some great fresh fish to unwind and watch the sunset; and if you go don’t forget to grab some salt water taffy from the bowl on your way out (don’t worry, they’re cool if you take a handful).

Also good is its recently opened sister restaurant Blue Plate Tacos (BPT), which is basically the tacos and tequila version of BPO. Another delicious dinner spot is Misfit; and don’t turn down their chocolate chip cookies with sea salt which are served to you warm at the end of your meal! For a special occasion you can’t beat Capo for dinner, which is hands down one of the best restaurants in LA.

Annenberg-Community-Beach-House-3-1024x768Annenberg Community Beach House is a great place for families to bring the kids to the beach; with it’s access to cabanas, a pool with a lifeguard, beach volleyball nets, beach equipment rentals, yoga classes as well as convenient bathrooms. Annenberg is a really special place to have a private beach club experience if you’re not a member of a private club. Although too infrequent, another special Santa Monica treat is the massive striped tent which is the temporary home for the latest creation from the spectacular Cirque du Soleil which arrives in town every few years to take over the parking lot of the world famous Santa Monica Pier!

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The above Guide to Santa Monica originally appeared in the Spring issue of Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine.