I want to love LA, I really do. The sun, the beaches, the perfectly ripe avocados, Angelenos truly have it good. But there’s also the obvious smog and traffic congestion. A city of contrasts, we made the most of it and decided to cover as much ground as humanly possible in six days, which included a two-day jaunt to Palm Springs (read about it here).
LA is a city of neighbourhoods, and these neighbourhoods feel like entire cities in and of themselves. In other words, we didn’t entirely ‘get’ or understand LA and found it somewhat overwhelming. The weather in LA is incredible, it’s permanently sunny and the beaches are gorgeous. The food scene is one of the best in the world, locals and visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to cafés and eateries. Perhaps my favourite thing about LA (well, after the shopping) was how self-assured and confident everyone seemed. I never felt judged for taking photos of my food or outfits, which is always refreshing!
If you’re planning a trip to this metropolis, I suggest sticking to one or two neighbourhoods rather than trying to do it all. I’ve listed my favourite spots from my four favourite neighbourhoods below. Just make sure you’ve got a car.
West Hollywood and Melrose:
This is where we stayed and it’s a relatively good base. We booked a room at The Standard and loved how quirky it was. It’s an artsy, boutique hotel with an excellent pool and bar area. We even saw a few celebrities.
The Standard (West Hollywood)
Beverly Hills Hotel for lunch and photos (it’s the cutest space ever!)
Reformation is the best and one of the most sustainable clothing stores around. All their garments are made from secondhand fabrics.
Glossier for all your beauty needs. It’s worth checking out the store even if you’re not buying anything. Their LA location also has a cool Antelope Canyon room.
Laurel Hardware for cleverly crafted cocktails and a magical little patio.
Mansur Gavriel for that bucket bag. Oh and they also serve lunch in their gorgeous outdoor café.
Outdoor Voices for all your exercise needs, I ended up purchasing a sports bra and these leggings (which I’m currently living in).
Verve Coffee Roasters for the best flat white in town.
Alfred Tea Room, again it’s very Instagrammable and the changa chip drink is so good.
Gracias Madre has the best patio and vegan Mexican food in town. You’ll likely not even realise it’s vegan. Oh and definitely try their snow cone margarita, it’s next-level delicious.
by CHLOE is another popular vegan, “fast food” option.
LACMA The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States, and is something you don’t want to miss if you’re in the area.
Eggslut is a delicious spot for breakfast if you’re hungover or just craving something indulgent.
Olive and June is the prettiest nail salon I’ve ever seen, super instagrammable.
Mighty Pilates. I didn’t have the chance to try this place out, but I’ve heard great things!
Montana Avenue is the place for all your favourite shops including Clare V., Splendid, Benefit and Jill Roberts. Olive and June (mentioned above) is also on this street.
Viceroy Santa Monica. A lot of thought and detail was put into the art-deco style décor of this Ocean Avenue hotel. The pool area features black and white poolside cabanas and a mirrored bar in the lobby.
Santa Monica Pier. You can’t go to Santa Monica without visiting the beach and the pier. Hop aboard the ferris wheel and grab a snack as you explore the boardwalk.
We didn’t make it to Venice this time round, but both Nick and I have been there on past visits.
Great White Venice for the most instagram-worthy café and gorgeous working space. Apparently their coffee is good, even by Kiwi standards.
Salt & Straw for the best, freshly churned ice cream around
Moon Juice is my favourite spot for cold pressed juices, dusts, and elixirs of all kinds.
You’ll definitely want to hit up the Venice Boardwalk and check out Muscle Beach while you’re at it.
Sqirl was our favourite breakfast spot of the whole trip. It’s busy, but the service was super speedy and the dishes are super flavourful.
Dayglow Coffee has the best iced coffees around and it’s pink heaven!
Dinosaur Coffee is a really cute spot that we sadly we didn’t make it to this time.
The Silver Lake Reservoirs Have you ever seen the 1974 film, Chinatown? It’s all Nick could talk about when we visited the Silver Lake Reservoirs. Built at the turn of the 20th century, these two man-made lakes are the heart (and namesake) of the Silver Lake community. The two side-by-side reservoirs are surrounded by an extensive walking/jogging path, a dog park, a playground and a recreation centre.
Griffith Observatory for spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills, ideal at sunset.
OK has unique gifts, jewellery, and an incredible selection of coffee table books
Yolk is the place to go for more playful gifts.
Secret Stairs Walk There’s a cluster of LA’s historic “hidden staircases” in hilly Silver Lake. A remnant of a time before cars, when public outdoor staircases were the only practical way for residents of certain hillside neighbourhoods to get down the hill to school, the supermarket, or to public transit including trolleys and streetcars.
We attempted to go to Malibu for lunch at Malibu Farm (I’ve had my eye on their frosé forever…) We drove an hour, couldn’t find a place to park (it was BUSY) and drove back. Not our brightest idea…
While we didn’t fall head over heels for LA as we have for other cities, I did fall for the incredible food scene. And I probably could’ve spent an entire day shopping. My advice is to plan a longer visit or to visit a local friend, someone who can show you their go-to spots.
Where do you hang out in LA?