Okay I admit it, before I came here my views were based on a combination of watching back to back MTV’s The Hill’s and the entire box set of 90210. Whilst I’ve never bumped into Lauren Conrad or Naomi Clark, any other hot blonde could have easily replaced them. Because yes, every other person seems to have fallen out of the super-gifted-and-gorgeous-gene-tree, it is the land of showbiz after all.
Still, with all its preconceptions I wanted to give another version to the tinsel town that we all used to seeing. It’s never going to have the “culture of Parié” said a successful French actor living in LA or have the “earnest tough souls of a Yankee” spoken from a New Yorker driving Uber in LA -but in all its shiny glory, it is a truly magical place. I promise.
Everyone knows Los Angeles is a large city, but just to get a rough idea think -seven Manhattan’s, Paris times twelve or Seoul doubled. And although you are probably already aware that there isn’t exactly a ‘real city center’ there are still dozens of places worth visiting.
And it’s totally do-able. Unfortunately public transport isn’t exactly a strong point, hence the serious traffic problems. Needn’t worry, Uber and Lyft will be your best friend. Plus you get free rides and credit when you first sign up, or put my codes in (Uber – claudiam2008ue, Lyft -CLAUDIA768192) and we both get the benefits 🙂
“Meet me on Melrose and Fairfax” said me most days.
West of Melrose; playground for the rich. Or if you’re an Insta-Addict (yes I think that is a real thing) and you’re looking for the infamous pink Paul Smith wall then this is your place.
Fairfax Avenue; the home of the skater boy’s –Supreme and Huf are what attracts the numerous amounts of guys with their obligatory skate boards down here. Tyler (the Creator) might even swoop past you whilst on his way to his very own store that’s on Fairfax; Odd Future.
East of Melrose; land of the hipsters. Every other shop is different and brilliant. I bet you ‘diverse’ and ‘unique’ spring to mind as you wonder around (probably with Glow’s fiber-filled green smoothie in hand).
If music is your thing, then Silverlake is your place. This is where the cool indie crowds hang out or so I presume with the skinny ripped jeans, obscure 80’s T-shirts and peculiar glasses look that everyone’s sporting. Well, it is LA’s creative ghetto after all, and one sprinkled with quirky vintage stores, historical record shops and hip spots to drink and dance such as Cha Cha Lounge or Hyperion Tavern.
This is officially the cutest little street that ever existed. It’s so quaint and charming and has real sense of local community. If that sounds like your jam try to make it to the farmers market on every Sunday 9am-2pm. If you don’t, still go just to grab breakfast from Sam’s Bagels or an ice cream from Salt and Straw (if the queue isn’t too intimidating). Also one of my favourite upscale boutiques lives here –Library, as well as one of the most common vegan spots –Café Gratitude.
Lets stick ‘tacky’ on the label and let that be that. I’m forever hearing of people who are on a short break and go to see the stars (because it’s a common touristic thing to do) but then end up being completely put off wanting to see the rest of LA because of the current state of what Hollywood Boulevard is like. If you’re set on wanting to go then do it, but don’t be dissing the rest of the city because!
With all its la-di-da connotations, I have to admit that Beverly Hills is pretty extraordinary. If you are in to shopping (snooping) the most luxurious brands then Rodeo Drive is the place to indulge. Whilst we’re boasting, lets not forget to mention the world-class hotels. Although I’ve never stayed in them, having breakfast on the rooftop of The Peninsula or visiting The Beverly Hills Hotel poolside café for a day will give you a taste of how the other half live.
While Downtown is still a little bit rough around the edges, it’s in the midst of a cultural and architectural resurgence that’s turning the area into a walkable destination dotted with museums (cough The Broad cough), beautiful buildings and Grand Central Market (which caters to every single kind of foodie). I also find many similarities between DTLA and New York, maybe it’s artsy decor or the über cool fashionistas or perhaps it’s all the skyscrapers, whatever it is, something makes me nostalgic.
Not far from skid row, you will undoubtedly notice the extreme homelessness problem that LA faces when you’re in these parts. If you find yourself wanting to help then a great organisation that I’ve found and worked with is called Food On Foot – read about what they do here.
Grabbing my round towel (this summers hottest beach accessory) and red string bikini (attempting to fit in with the Baywatch theme) and heading to the beach -at nearly any time in the year -is one of my favourite to do’s. With Third Streets great selections of well-known shops and restaurants, the amusement park and the beach –expect Santa Monica to be a typical tourists day out. Getting bikes out here is a must.
I’m always telling myself that I need to spend more time in Venice. I love exploring between the tranquil Venice Canals and unique shopping and eateries on Abbot Kinney.
The beach promenade channels London’s very own Camden Market. What’s the word I’m looking for – Mental! There’s about two million and one things going on at once. From tourism shops, to fortune tellers, to muscle-men to skateboarders – oh boy! – There’s a lot to take in. Like I said, completely mental.
The Coffee Shops
Look, I know I’m talking to a generation of coffee shop lovers and seeing that most of my blog posts are constructed in the discreet corners of them, it’s only right that they get little shout out. In LA these coffee-sellers are just as popular as the local lunch/dinner/bar spots, plus it’s the most conveniently time to bump into an a-lister.
p.s I’ve never realised how much I clearly like taking photos of my iced soy coffee, oops.
The Vegan Restaurants
Since it wasn’t until moving to LA that I turned Vegan, I wouldn’t dare miss out the restaurants that helped me along the way. Starting from mega casual to super fancy: Vegan Glory, Flore Café, Café Gratitude, Little Pine, Gracias Madre, Crossroads.
I find the standard of restaurants throughout Los Angeles top-notch. You could probably pop “good restaurants in la” into Google and find your perfect match. But if you’re after a recommended restaurant, here are some I highly approve of (prices are completely varied);
Mozza – The perfect candle lit Italian dinner
Republique – It’s french. More sexy than romantic
Nobu – $$$ and worth every penny
Goldies – Easy vibe especially if you can’t make your mind up on where to go
EP/LP – Great open rooftop bar & fab pan Asian food
Pink Taco – Has a bucking bronco, which is always fun
Ysabel – It’s fabulous -if you can get in -book in advance (even for drinks)
BOA – The place for a steak
Cecconis – A lovely brunching spot
Le Petit Four – THE best to people (and car) watch
I have to say the trendy bar scene very much agrees with me (despite the 1/2am last orders call time).
If you are like me, always on the look out for a place with a swanky and edgy vibe with a sophisticated menu (rather than table service and bottles popping kinda clubs) then try these places; No Vacancy, Dirty Laundry, Umbrella Bar, Chateau Marmot, Soho House, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, Break Room 86, Rodger Rooms.
They are totally laid back too, most of the time I rock up in jeans & trainers but could just as easily of turned up after a fancy cocktail party. Anything goes.
“Must do” list
It’s compulsory isn’t it? Where else would you get your ultimate back-to-camera-hands-in-the-air-pose in front of the Hollywood Hills sign? No but seriously, the hiking trails here have the potential to steal your heart and make you never leave. You see the city from an entirely different perspective (and work up a sweat too!). Best time to go is in the morning or just before sunset.
My favourites are Runyon and Griffith Park – mostly because they are the nearest. Click here for more info on the local hiking trials. If you’re a keen on hiking a bunch here and need advice on best hiking backpacks, then click here for more info.
The Broad and LACMA are right at the top of my must do list (I’ve never been to the Getty Museum but heard great things).
The Broad – unless you’ve booked (months in advance), turn up one hour before it opens –preferably not the weekend -and stand in the ‘I don’t have a ticket queue’ and wait for unwanted pre booked tickets to be released when the doors open – which are free.
LACMA – costs $15 per person and is open Monday – Friday, go whenever!
As much as I have no idea what any of the rules are in Basketball or Ice Hockey, cheering on the local the teams -with a giant finger in one hand and (vegy) hot dog in the other -at the Staples Center, makes for such a fun (and slightly competitive) evening.
This one might be a pointless suggestion as you have to be a member to get in (or be friends with a member). If I was you, I’d hunt one down or befriend a magician that performs here because an evening at Magic Castle is like no other. Find out more from their website here.
One gazillion percent take a look (here) at who’s playing whilst you’re in town. It’s only the best venue I’ve ever been to. I also don’t find ticket pricing too extortionate like in England – obviously the closer you get to the stage the higher the price of the ticket. Argh, I’m totally having flash backs of watching Florence and the Machine and thinking there can’t be a better venue and performer combined whilst plunging into a hippy dippy music fanatic state, mental check – no there isn’t.
Melrose Flee Market
It’s wacky and wonderful and on every Sunday. Admission is $3 – which all goes to Fairfax high school (where it’s held). There are so many unique pieces and so much variety but mainly it’s the hottest place to catch the coolest current fashion trends and to people watch.
I’d highly recommend taking a surfing lesson whilst you’re in town (maybe in Malibu and spend the day there – which means you have to go Malibu Café!). It feels like the perfect place to learn as the waves aren’t to overbearing or if you’re already a competent surfer then you blend right in with the rest of the bronzed ‘surfer dudes’.
Yoga and Mimosa’s
I literally plan my whole month around this. A FREE and fantastically led yoga class on the patio or in the gardens of The Roosevelt Hotel. Plus afterward there’s an $5 mimosa’s offer (until 12pm). It’s on at 9am every third Saturday of the month, check with Corepower Yoga (Hollywood) to confirm though.
In and Out
Go on I wont tell. It is all produced in California (or so they say) and only available here. Ask about the not-so-secret-menu too.
Vineyards are a kind of grown-up, bamboozled Disneyland where you can spend your days/weekends soaking up charming views and tasting the finest wines. Oooh, the wine.
Californian vineyards definitely tick the romantic box. Go as a couple, kick back, relax. Be decadent. Take in the views. Do some Russell Crowe-as-Gladiator style roleplay…is it only me that associates sipping fine wine with medieval times? OK. Nevermind.
And of course the actual Disneyland (in Anaheim, California) which was the original and the only park built under Walt Disney – of course this adds to the magic. I actually learnt lot’s of fun facts as the BF, his family and I had our very own tour guide for the day – which was like having a walking map AND gave us fast track to the rides. It really was a super(califragilisticexpialidocious) day -and I guess the kids liked it too!
LA, I love you
After living here (on and off) for over one year, I feel like I’ve definitely gained a good scoop for y’all to know about. As you can tell if you’ve read this far – god, it has been a bit like a GCSE science project it’s so long -so yeah I apologise if there’s too much on the page. I do plan to break this down and split sections up into their own pages.. but one post at a time hey!
Anyway, since there are always new cool spots emerging and places constantly changing, I will definitely be adding more and more as time goes on. I hope this gave you a view of what this gem of a city has to offer.
Any recommendations to add? Do tell me in the comments section! Thinking of holidaying here? Ask me questions below! X