Who needs pretentious overpriced coffee when you can peruse your Proust with the real intelligentsia — and a panino — at the Santa Monica Public Library, home to the best library café in town. After checking out your reading fare from this borrower-friendly, architecturally uplifting, parking-plentiful institution, visit the library café for a quick snack, late lunch or caffeine kick. And what better place to browse your newest fiction than the tranquil courtyard patio and garden? Walkways flanked by shallow reflecting pools and cacti create a truly inspiring setting — and you might learn something while you're there. 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 458-8600, smpl.org.
—Mara De Luca