Places You Must Not Miss in Santa Monica

by Katrina Leno, author of You Must Not Miss

Yayyy, it’s YALLWEST time again!! I love that this festival is in one of my favorite places in the world—Santa Monica! There is so much to do in this city, but I’m going to focus on places you can walk to from the festival, starting with, of course, the ocean! (Is it really a trip to SoCal if you don’t start at the ocean??)

Katrina Leno's Guide to Santa Monica.png

The Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier • 15 minute walk from the festival

I can’t lie; I love a good pier. The Santa Monica Pier is one of my favorite places to go, especially in the early morning, when everything is closed and the only other people down there are fishermen and tourists still adjusting to the time change. 

Santa Monica Public Library - the Bookstore

601 Santa Monica Blvd • 15 minute walk from the festival • 17 minute walk from the pier

Once you've had your fill of waves, head back inland for some excellent book shopping. Tucked into the sunny atrium of the SMPL is the Friends of the Library Bookstore, a magical little store open Saturday 11-4:30. Pick up trade paperbacks and hardcovers for a buck or two, and check out the free bins they wheel outside! (FREE BOOKS EEEEEE)

Philz Coffee

525 Santa Monica Blvd • 16 minute walk from the festival • 1 minute walk from the bookstore

After you’ve stocked up on more books than you can possibly carry (seriously, how are you carrying all those books??) pop into this California-based coffee chain for a cup of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. They also have small bites, including a ridiculous vegan protein ball which you’ll need to build your strength from carrying all of those books. 

Swingers Diner

802 Broadway • 7 minute walk from Philz • 10 minute walk back to the festival

Swingers is one of my favorite diners in the world. Have a friend come and pick up all your books, then take a load off and enjoy their ridiculous wallpaper (cows! Motorcycles jumping over cars!). They have a ton of veggie and vegan options and the outside wall is perfect for a quick selfie (blue with red stars!!). Yay books! Yay food! Yay ocean! Yay California!!


Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day she walked in on her father having sex with her aunt on her parents' bed. That was the night her mom started down a spiral of self-destruction. That was the night Eryn, Magpie's sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp's party. 

Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won't speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who've all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.

Near is perfect—somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie's own life never derailed so suddenly. She writes Near so completely, so fully, that she dreams it into existence, right in her own backyard. It's a place where she can have anything she wants...even revenge.

Acclaimed author Katrina Leno spins a twisted and suspenseful tale of friendship, revenge, and the monsters that live inside us all.