Call me basic (I’ll embrace it for once), but I knew once I watched La La Land that a SoCal trip needed to be in the books ASAP. *Queue movie soundtrack before reading the rest of this post.* Maybe it’s just for the “fools who dream”, but something about California is always magical to me.
Since we literally saw ALL of La La Land over a 5 day period, I’ve put the neighborhood each place is located in to help you plan your trip and time spent in LA traffic. (PS – Uber drivers will help make your traffic time way more entertaining.)
Airbnb | West Hollywood
As far as being central location for a majority of your LA adventure, this is your best bet. The neighborhood is just tucked away enough to be quiet, but close enough to be walking distance to a lot of the action. [Side note: you will also learn pretty quickly here that I would rather Airbnb than anything because 1) I hate hotels 99% of the time and 2) they allow you to stay in places that you might otherwise not get to experience.]
Ace Hotel | Downtown LA
If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s worthy of a splurge – the Ace would be the place. In addition to their insane rooftop pool & bar, they have a killer coffee shop on the first floor. Each room is a perfect combination of modern and retro decor (some rooms even have vinyls and a record player for your use).
To Eat (& Drink):
Taste on Melrose | West Hollywood
It was actually a totally accident we stumbled into this place, but I am so glad that we did! Taste seemed pretty unassuming from the outside, but had exceptional food and service (yes, we were besties with our server by the end of the meal). If you find yourself here for brunch, make sure to order the Lobster Benedict.
The Ivy | Beverly Hills
Liv & I kept joking that every place we went was the “perfect bridal brunch” spot because of the decor, but nevertheless, The Ivy is a classic LA spot that can’t be missed. The gem is located in a vibrantly decorated house with multiple dining areas and perfect patio. I also am still trying to figure out where they get their flowers and decor because look at them…
Malibu Farm Pier Cafe | Malibu
This adorable bright, white coffee shop and cafe is the perfect spot for a light lunch during your time in Malibu. Their mint lemonade is top notch and you can’t go wrong with the cauliflower crust pizza. Be sure to grab a cup of coffee to keep you warm before wandering the pier and beach below!
Cecconi’s | West Hollywood
If you’re looking for some great Italian food while you’re in town, this is the place. Be sure to start off with an order of calamari and have one of their hand-made pasta dishes for your entree. (Oh, and I’m pretty positive my future home will be decorated like this restaurant.)
Pump | West Hollywood
Apparently if you’re a Real Housewives fan (like my friend Olivia) this place is your dream. But even if you aren’t, holy brunch. Get their famous pitcher of the Blackberry Smash to accompany your entrees and enjoy the scenery (…and people watching).
Nobu | Malibu
You will need a reservation prior to grabbing dinner at this place. The menu is overwhelming (full disclosure: we both kept saying “what is this?!” – LOL), but just tell your server what kind of seafood you like most or your normal order at a Japanese restaurant, and they will point you in the right direction.
Commissary | Koreatown
This lunch spot is located in a greenhouse on the second floor of the Line Hotel (our second choice hotel!). While they are famous for their Rice Bowl Power Lunch, it will go down in my book as home to the BEST avocado toast I’ve ever had (goat cheese, chilies, & cured salmon on top) and one of the most dreamy restaurants I’ve had lunch at!
Eveleigh | West Hollywood
A hidden gem on Sunset, but seriously, how ADORABLE is this place?! Liv and I opted here to share a few of their small plates. This is a great place to get a bottle of wine and charcuterie board to share to enjoy the picturesque patio and perfect California weather.
Griffith Observatory | Hollywood
*Queue Planetarium for all you La La Land fans* In all honesty, there were many moments on the drive up here where I was afraid we were going to be very disappointed (long drive in the mountain, insane traffic, no close parking, etc.). And then…
It was a dream. The observatory exhibits were amazing. The building is stunning. And the view is…well, it’s the best in town. I still wish we would have budgeted more time to spend here!
Melrose Avenue | West Hollywood
Let’s just be honest and all acknowledge that we can’t afford what Rodeo Drive has to offer. 🙂 If you’re looking for a shopping alternative, be sure to walk around and check out some of the shops on Melrose. They’re stunning and slightly more affordable. (Shoutout to our girl Alix at NARS – stop by and have her hook you up with some Velvet Shadow Sticks because they are life-changing).
Warner Bros Studio Tour | Hollywood
I am not a stereotypical tourist type. In fact, I normally strongly dislike a majority of those attractions or activities. However, Liv & I last minute decided to do a studio tour because that’s what you do in Hollywood, right!? We definitely both came out with a greater appreciation for the TV/movie industry and got to see some of our favorite sets!
The Strand Beach Path | Santa Monica to Venice
If you can’t get enough of the sun or the ocean, then you have to walk/bike the beach path from Santa Monica to Venice. You will get to see the more chill, beach town side of LA instead of the fast-paced glitz and glamour.
Malibu Wines Safari | Malibu
Recommended by one of my co-workers, it’s a must do for any wine-o on your time in Malibu. Maybe one day I’ll grow up, but until then I will be the girl doing all the drive-thru safaris I can. Your tour will consist of a tasting of 6 wines, light snacks, exploring Saddlerock Ranch, and feeding zebras/llamas/water buffalo/all sorts of animals. On top of the animals and the insane views, they even have fun remodeled Airstreams and Volkswagen vans to look at on your tour (the hippie in me rejoices).
Museum of Broken Relationships | Hollywood
I have only been to the original exhibit in Zagreb (which I will document fully in my Croatia guide), but this one is by far easier to. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a museum of breakups. While a majority of the pieces are related to romantic relationships, they also have ones for family, friends, and dreams. It’s an emotional roller coaster (you will laugh and you will cry), but don’t miss out on this gem.
The Broad | Downtown LA
I am not joking when i say this is one of the best art museums I have ever been too (and Liv would agree…and we have both been to a lot). You will definitely want to reserve tickets ahead of time on their website because there may be a long wait to get in. If you want to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room installation (which yes, you do), go ahead and make your ticket reservations for some time in the morning. Once you get in, you will have to join the digital queue in the lobby. Then you can still walk around the rest of the museum and enjoy some great art while you wait. I would say the infinity room was top 5 of the things I did on this trip!
El Matador | Malibu
As far as beaches go, this one blows them all out of the water (no pun intended). Words can’t even do this place justice, but I have never heard the roar of the waves so loud in my life. Make the hike down to the water, sit, and be still.
Rodeo Drive | Beverly Hills
If you want to experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous, take a stroll down Rodeo in the afternoon. I still don’t understand what kind of people in this world are making regular purchases at these stores, but every thing looks really pretty. 🙂
The Last Bookstore | Downtown LA
After we went, we figured out this was featured in an article called “The Most Instagrammable Spots in LA”, which is when we knew we weren’t crazy. This massive book/record/art store in downtown is a hidden wonderland. We spent over an hour just wandering around and exploring in what is now our new favorite bookstore.
The Beverly Hills Hotel | Beverly Hills
Maybe it’s just me, but I believe Bev Hills is one of the most iconic hotels in the US. Even if you can’t afford the stay (LOL I don’t even want to know how much one night is), you must see it! Pro tip: if you don’t want to drop a pretty penny on a meal but still want to enjoy some of what the hotel has to offer, make a reservation at the Polo Lounge for drinks (and order the Blueberry Lavender Fizz because you won’t regret it).
The Chinese Theatre & Hollywood Walk of Fame | Hollywood
I will say on weekends the crowds of tourists are overwhelming, but something about seeing the stars of your favorite celebs and the concrete blocks with your favorite actors’ and actress’ hand prints and signatures at the site of their big movie premieres.
Santa Monica Pier | Santa Monica
Did you really even go to LA if you don’t take a picture of the pier? Probably not. Regardless, the pier is adorable and a fun place to walk around when in Santa Monica!
Overall, LA was one of my favorite trips I’ve taken in a long time. It’s definitely a city that has something to offer to everyone and flights are super affordable (yes, even last minute!). For me, this city was a dream because it is the perfect balance of my favorite things – great food, great views, great people, adventures, and plenty of time to still dream in between.