Since my first visit two years ago, I’ve truly fallen in love with California. LA was the first city I really in love with, and the place that made me dream of calling CA my second home state. Maybe it was the uncanny timing of seeing La La Land for the first time, or that I realized there was somewhere in America with the most perfect weather. SoCal really stole my heart, but San Francisco would soon grow on me. You can hop over to my recommendations for SF though to read about the city where I have a “dual citizenship”. For now, let’s talk about the City of Angels!
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, became besties with our server by the end of the meal…classic). If you find yourself here for brunch, make sure to order the Lobster Benedict.
The Ivy | Beverly Hills – Every place in LA seemed to be 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.
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.
Pump | West Hollywood – Apparently if you’re a Real Housewives fan 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: I kept saying “what is this?!” when reading the menu – 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?! My friend Liv and I opted here to share a few of their small plates when we went. 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.
The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappucino Maker | Sunset Strip – To begin, I have two words for you: mimosa flights. Seriously, LA is my dream city. Their eggs benedict on homemade buttermilk biscuits were also divine.
Catch LA | – You’ll probably feel underdressed since I swear everyone there is #famous, but this place is seriously STUNNING. It was all I ever could have dreamed of and more. My avocado cocktail (the “One Too Many”), Lobster Mac, and Hellfire Roll are my fave picks from their stellar menu.
Alfred Coffee | Multiple Locations – Originally I came because I could not believe a $10 latte was a thing, but I very quickly fell in love with Alfred for their amazing coffee concoctions. I seriously DREAM about their Chaga Chip Latte and Blueberry Mint CBD Cold Brew (why do these things only exist in California!?).
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!
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.
Abbot Kinney | Venice – I could have easily spent hours exploring the boho shops on Abbot Kinney (and kind of did). This street was super funky & fun, which is probably why people refer to it as “the coolest city in America”. Some of my favorite shops included Gorjana, Alternative, Enze Apparel, Anna Bruce, and Current/Elliott.
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.
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).
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!
Melrose Trading Post | West Hollywood – Confession – definitely came here as I was on the hunt for a bootleg Gucci sweatshirt. But there is tons of fun thrifting, shopping, and exploring to be had!