Is there a city in the world that’s more perfect than Los Angeles? With its idyllic weather and chill pace, LA is not just a cosmopolitan city with beach vibes, palm-fringed streets and boardwalks, miles of hiking trails and countless waves to surf. It’s also a melting pot of creatives, cutting-edge techies and eclectic world cultures. If you’re at a loss for things to do in Los Angeles look no further than the innovative restaurants, galleries, contemporary museums and a hopping nightlife for an idea.
Sure, LA is famous for the Hollywood glitz and glamour, and its obsession with green juices, detoxes, yoga and spiritual tune-ups is the butt of many jokes, but there’s no denying that the City of Angels lives up to its moniker and casts a spell on everyone who comes here.
The most important thing to know about LA is that it’s not one city—it’s a sprawling urban metropolis that’s made up of several different cities within a city. Each of them—West Hollywood, Downtown, Beverly Hills, Silver Lake, Santa Monica, Venice, and even neighboring Malibu—have their own distinctive personalities and need time to explore. The greatest challenge is not what to do, but what version of LA you’d like to embrace during your visit.
Los Angeles is bursting with the most talked about restaurants in America that cater to every dietary restriction. They might be lacking Michelin stars but LA’s best dining experiences are what make California cuisine so unique—think veggie-centric, impeccably sourced, innovative, fresh and health-conscious. There’s something about being in a sunny metropolis that makes everyone want to look and feel their best.
Café Gratitude is a quintessential Cali experience you won’t be able to have anywhere else—it’s vegan food where every dish is a self-affirmation: “I Am Connected,” “I Am Powerful,” “I Am Pure,” “I Am Beautiful.” Gjelina serves everything including pizza, but is known for ushering a new sort of veggie-forward Cali-minded cuisine. It’s not easy to snag a reservation at this local favorite, so come when it opens and get a table on the patio out back.
Malibu Farm’s sweeping views of the ocean go well with white sangria and rose any day. The simple, delicious and consciously sourced dishes reflect California coast and the café’s bohemian vibe is as Cali as it gets. Alfred Coffee is LA’s most fashionable and most Instagrammable coffee house that gathers influencers, cool kids and celebs alike. Every cup of coffee at Alfred is a piece of a picture-perfect LA lifestyle.
The Hollywood Sign is one of those iconic hikes you can’t miss while in LA. It’s a great morning hike through one of the largest urban parks in America, Griffith Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains, which rewards you with some of the most spectacular views of LA.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice is a cool place to spend an afternoon. Browse the boho shops while sipping an iced oat milk latte. Venice Canals are another gem, along with the famous Venice Beach at sunset, complete with skaters, bodybuilders, fortune-tellers and hawkers selling tats, henna, crystals and so much more. Or you can rent a bike and ride on the waterfront path from Venice to Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Pier after the sun sets takes you back in time and unleashes your inner kid. The amusement park along with the Ferris wheel and cotton candy feels more like a movie set than a real life boardwalk pier. But since you are in LA LA Land, just keep snapping selfies.
The Bungalow is a great place to unwind with a cocktail in hand. An always happening quirky nightspot that feels more like a beachside villa than a bar, The Bungalow comes complete with a pool table, trendy crowd and vintage surfboards.
If you get tired of the beach, take the recently expanded Expo Line Metro downtown to explore the art scene. The Broad, the 120,000-square-foot contemporary museum boasting a collection of 2,000 works including Warhol and Koons, is a huge draw. Admission is free but it’s best to reserve a ticket online to avoid long lines.
West Hollywood Edition
West Hollywood Edition is California laid back sophistication at its best. The new kid on Sunset Boulevard and the first Ian Schrager Edition property on the West Coast, the West Hollywood was designed by British architect John Pawson and pays homage to SoCal with the indigenous species of California plants, neutral colors, floor-to-ceiling sliding screens and minimalist feel. The hotel’s rooftop bar is a must not just for cocktails, but for panoramic views spanning the Hollywood Hills, Downtown, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The intimate basement nightclub, Sunset, with guest DJs, channels the spirit of the Sunset Strip in the 1960s and ‘70s, and is all about craft cocktails and groovy music. It’s a cool hotel that strikes the right balance between luxury and youth that’s perfect for the Instagram-obsessed millennials.
The Surfrider Malibu
The Surfrider Malibu is a barefoot luxury kind of place. It’s a former motel turned Malibu hotel that feels more like a beach home. It’s both super stylish and super simple, with airy, light-filled rooms, custom beds, Italian linens, ocean views, hammocks, waffle robes for lounging and a mini bar stocked with local California treats. You can spend your day at the beach, lounge at the guests-only roofdeck or borrow a surfboard and learn how to surf. If you get hungry by the beach, text in your food order and the hotel staff will bring it to you right on the sand.