“The angels” – better known as the place where dreams are made and where any gym can sell themselves on being the place of choice for “celebrities, models & actors”. This metropolis with mediterranean climate only sees 35 days of rain per year – hence the saying “always sunny in California”. It has plenty to see, never ending things to do, friendly people and un-imaginable traffic. This guide is the tip of the LA-iceberg, a hyper-curated selection and split by areas so you don’t spend your days in a car.
LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world and because of this, clearing the airport can take some determination. LA is definitely a car-driven city and because of that the car rental companies are all located a 15 minute drive from the airport. That’s all very well but it can easily take an hour during busy periods to get the right shuttle and make it to the rental lot. The far easier & less stressful option would be to take an Uber/Lyft to the area where you’re staying and book the rental from there. Alternatively you could also try the private rental service Turo, and book a car where the owner is prepared to either drop it off at the airport or choose one who’s based close to where you’re staying for easy collecting & returning.
LA is vast with mind-blowing traffic. So firstly it’s important to stay closest to where you’ll be spending most of your time. Alternatively if you see yourself hanging out all over Down Town, Venice Beach, Silver Lakes etc – book something in West Hollywood as it’s very central. A rental car is a must, and you could also try Turo (the Airbnb of Car Rental) for some more exciting options (think Range Rover, Mustang or some Electric) at competitive rates. Along with the car, you also want to make use of the app WAZE to ensure you don’t end up spending unnecessary time in traffic. Uber/Lyft is an easy and cost effective option for the evenings. Every area in LA is almost a city on it’s own, but for this guide there’s places picked out from Down Town (DT), Venice (V), Koreatown (K), Melrose (MP), West Hollywood (WeHo), Hollywood (H) & Silver Lake (SL), Larchmont Village (LV) – some of the places below have been linked to the closest of these neighbourhoods.
Alfred Coffee (MP) – This is where your favourite celeb would be most likely to pick up their morning coffee. People are really particular about their beverages. Listen out for orders like “Hot Coconut milk Matcha latte”, “Iced decaf skinny almond milk latte” or “Iced soy vanilla chai”.
Graçias Madre (V) – Vegan Mexican Food in an elegant Cali setting. #SoLA!
Shake Shack (WeHo) – because some nights you just need a good old (hipster) fastfood burger.
Gjelina (V) – Quintessential Venice LA. Mix of Salads, Sandwiches, Pizzas. Have anything – it’s all good.
Gjusta (V) – Sister to Gjelina – this is where all their food gets prepped in the industrial end of town.
Swingers Diner (WeHo) – Classic Diner with everything you need for an everyday meal.
Joan’s on Third (WeHo) – When you feel like some home-style cooking this deli has everything you need.
Tacos Al Pastor (SL) – Take cash. Or rather keep some cash aside from your night out on town. You’ll need it – unless your uber driver offers to buy you taco’s like mine did.
Sam’s Bagels (LV/WeHo) – there’s one in WeHo and one in Larchmont Village. Go for the Lox (Salmon).
Cafe Stella & Bar (SL) – Classic bar (connected to a french bistro) with friendly bar staff who know their drinks.
Paramount Coffee Project (WEHO/F) – Going there it feels like you should be using words like “hood” and combine it with an opinion on art and beans.
Go get ’em Tiger (LV) – in the heart of Larchmont Village you can get cool-kid coffee in suburban surroundings.
Dirty laundry (H) – a modern speakeasy in the city attracting celebs & wannabes.
Bar Marmont (WeHo)- Classic beautiful bar where you go to see and be seen or just hang with the the WeHo locals over a bottle of California’s finest Chardonnay.
Look out for events on LAist and LA Nightlife – especially for events happening at the Hollywood Bowl. Also the Bandsintown app could help you find which of your favourite artists might be performing under the radar. Akbar (SL) – offers a good night out if you’re looking for a Looking style experience in LA.
The shopping in is plentiful To make it easier it’s grouped into areas West 3rd street (WeHo) – Wittmore (Men’s Clothing) Abbot Kinney Blvd (V) – Aesop S La Brea Avenue – Start at the vintage sign place on the corner then head down to Aether & Bonobos. North Fairfax Avenue – Think art galleries, graffiti, skaters, plenty of street wear & kosher. Head over to Larchmont Village and explore a classic american high street. See Malin & Goetz, the most awesome magazine stand while cooling down with ice cream from Salt & Straw or sipping on something from Go get ’em Tiger.
Easton Gym Company (WeHo) – if you’ll be in LA for a while you’ll probably want a gym. Look no further than old-school cool Easton. They charge $20/daypass, but you can use it for 24h. So get one in the PM and use again in the morning. LACMA (DT) – Even if you don’t visit this modern art museum during the day, it’s worth driving past at night to see the street-light installation. Eames Case Study 8 – This landmark of mi-century modern architecture, built in the 40’s by Ray & Charles Eames is more relevant today than ever before. Designed with “A creative city couple who wants to get out of the bustle” in mind, it’s the most perfect retreat. Book a visiting slot well in advance and just the $10 outside tour is enough. Runyon Canyon (WeHo) – Shirtless celeb spotting hiking. The Griffith Observatory (H) – The road up get’s really congested around sunset, so come early. Mulholland Drive – Drive through and be surprised by how “old and established” the neighbourhood is. Palm Springs – If you’re in town for a while, head out of town for 2h west and you’ll hit the holiday town of the stars. If you want to rent a house go for Palms at Park or Acme House Co. For a pool day, hit the Ace Hotel (also great relaxed diner & poolside dining), for dinner hit Workshop Kitchen+Bar or Las Casuelas for something more tacky-mexi-fun. Be sure to drive up to Panorama drive to see the view of the town. Avoid during peak summer months unless you feel like 50C days and living in AC.
Airbnb is still a good & first option even though there’s been a lot of regulation going on around this and it’s uncertain how long they will still be around. Pali Hotel (WeHo) – some good value rooms centrally located. Mama Shelter (H) – French group, Mama shelter offers some great rooms designed by Phillipe Starcke. Always located fairly central but a little offbeat. Ace Hotel (DTLA) – if you’re a real city cat, this would definitely be where you stay.
Again – LAX is huge. And it’s wise to aim for arriving at the airport at least 3 hours before as there’s no shortcuts around the traffic jams that could add an hour or so to your journey. International departures all go from the Tom Bradley terminal. Once you’ve checked your bag, clear security ASAP as this can take another 45 mins easily. Once cleared and if you don’t have lounge access it’s worth relaxing with a glass wine at Vino Volo – definitely the calmest space in the corner with good wine & food. See ya later!