los angeles guide3/24/2012
I love a comprehensive city guide and felt that I should add a Los Angeles version. As a native, it pains me when tourists think that Los Angeles is only about seeing the walk of fame and famous hand prints. There's a lot more to the city than people realize! First off, having a car is imperative and sometimes you'll have to drive a little out of the city to enjoy the sights. In the future, I'll make another guide for day-trips from Los Angeles to nearby cities. I've also included a map that I drew at the bottom of the post, to be used as a visual reference!
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. (Cost: $15-$20)
Part botanical garden and part historical museum; the sights are endless. There are elaborate Japanese and Chinese temples that make you feel transported to another land. There's also a teahouse near a rose garden for a relaxing break. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon!
Venice Beach Canals
Carroll Ct & Eastern Canal Ct, Venice. (Cost: Free)
There are a few streets in Venice that have water-filled canals, it's a weird sight to see in the middle of neighborhoods where cars are everywhere. The best time to go is when the sun is setting, that's when the light makes everything romantic. The beach is also very close and so is the restaurant-lined street Abbot Kinney.
905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills. (Cost: Free)
If you're into nice overlooking views of the city, or manicured gardens, look no further than Greystone mansion. It has a lot of history but today it's mostly known as the filming location for There Will Blood's final scene. The gardens are intimate and I would bring a picnic to enjoy the scenery. You can't go inside the mansion, but you can walk all around it and it's quite big!
The Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. (Cost: Free, Parking: $15)
No city-guide would be complete without the most beautiful building in the city. I've been here countless times and I never get tired of it. The architecture is immaculate, the permanent collection is so beautiful and the gardens are charming. There is also a cafe on site that serves great food for lunch!
Fairfax and Third St, Los Angeles
A lovely outdoor market in the center of a West Hollywood, complete with old-fashioned storefronts and plenty of food to choose from. There are tons of candy and ice cream shops as well. I'd recommend eating at Loteria! Grill for good Mexican food.
Topanga State Park
20829 Entrada Rd, Topanga Canyon
If you're the adventurous type, or even just someone who loves mountains and ocean views, I'd recommend visiting Topanga State Park to experience incredible nature. The landscape is very eclectic; you will find forests with waterfalls and see vast lands that resemble vineyards. You probably won't believe that you're still in Los Angeles!
South San Pedro St & East 1st St, Los Angeles
For fun, I love visiting the shops of Little Tokyo. The Marukai Market is my favorite for supermarket finds, and the Japanese village has plenty of exotic restaurants to choose from. There's also a Little Tokyo Galleria nearby with even more things to do, such as private-room karaoke and restaurants with traditional tatami seating. Don't forget to drink Boba!
235 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills.
Long considered to be my "favorite place to eat", there are locations in Yountville and Las Vegas, but none are more beautiful than the one in Beverly Hills. It sits across from the manicured gardens of the Canon Drive courtyard and the Montage hotel. Rodeo Drive is not far off either, if you want to window shop! Best For: Brunch, Lunch or Romantic Dinner.
700 S Grand Ave Los Angeles
The macarons and dessert displays are worth the trip alone, but the food is also really delicious. If you want to be immersed in Downtown L.A. this is the place to visit. There are some great historical buildings nearby like The Millennium Biltmore and the Bradbury Building which are free to walk through. Best For: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, French Pastries. Skip Dinner which has a two hour wait!
21150 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
If you ever wanted to "eat on the beach" this will literally plant you on the water. No sand or boardwalks here. My boyfriend and I will come here for a romantic night and request a table by an open window. We always bring our out-of-town guests here, because it is a must-see! If you're in the area you should also visit the Getty Malibu. Best For: Lunch, Sunday Brunch, Dinner, Seafood.
L.A. Diners (my top three)
No trip to L.A. is complete without visiting a diner. This is what America does best, right? In Los Angeles a diner must have: good alternative options (like organic or vegetarian), good fries and a jukebox with lots of songs. I have been to countless, here are my top 3:
1. Swingers. 8020 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles. (photo)
After a night on the town, a stop at Swingers for delicious comfort food is a must. You can visit during the day, but late-night snacking always tastes better. You'll probably see a celebrity here too, if that's what you like! What I order: Vegetarian sloppy joe and a chai latte.
2. Cafe 50s. 15045 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks. (photo)
I live in the Valley so of course I have to recommend a visit to this part of Los Angeles. There's also mini-golf nearby at Sherman Oaks Castle Park if you want to feel really retro. What I order: Salmon burger with garlic fries.
3. Cafe 101. 6145 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles. (photo).
After watching a film at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood or seeing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, this is the place to end the night at. The inside is dark and the food is classic diner fare with a twist. If you're a tourist, you might even see a celebrity as I always see them there (ahem, Ryan Gosling). What I order: Tuna melt with Sweet Potato fries.
Admittedly, I do most of my shopping online, but in person you could visit:
Playclothes. 3100 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank
A really lovely vintage shop in Burbank, nearby other small vintage shops on a quiet street. The dressing rooms look like the prettiest bedrooms and a cat will likely slink past your leg. Lots of 1920s accessories too.
Old Town Pasadena. W Colorado Blvd & Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena
There are plenty of shops here if you like major retailers combined with smaller unique stores. Many streets have brick-lined alleyways and it feels like a mini-New York. You could shop at The Loved One, where I spotted a vintage Chanel bag once, and visit the Norton Simon Museum to see ballerina sculptures by Degas. Don't forget an afternoon tea at the Scarlet Tea Room to round out the day.
Amoeba Music. 6400 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. (photo)
I don't spend too much time in Hollywood, but you can't deny the incredible selection of vinyl records, hard-to-find foreign films and a large collection of cheap VHS tapes, all found at Amoeba. Just down the street you can taste the ultimate burger and fries at In-N-Out. They are all over the city. If you do nothing else from this guide, at least go there!
All locations mentioned above can be seen on this helpful map that I made. Pardon the squiggly drawing of our main highways, this was my first time drawing a map! Also, if you have any questions about visiting, I'll do my best to answer! x
(all photos were taken by me unless noted)