Famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said, “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles”. It’s the idea that everyone and everything will eventually meander through this unique corner of the world that makes Los Angeles one of the most traveled to, talked about, and curiosity-inducing cities around.
In terms of recognizable landmarks, Los Angeles has quite a few that you can easily pick out in movies or photos. There’s the pier, boulevards, and beaches and, just outside of town, Disneyland. You may even have a few snapshots of yourself posing in the ever-present sun near that famous Hollywood sign or perched near a star inscribed with your favorite actor’s name. But what about all the other stuff?
There’s plenty to see, do, and eat in Los Angeles that might not come highly recommended in a guidebook but does carry some weight with the locals and other trendsetters. We’ve highlighted the best hotels, music scenes, restaurants, outdoor activities, and museums. Plus, we’ve got the scoop on your one-stop ice cream shop and where to go to get a 360-degree view of the city. Did we mention we’re giving away the name of the top nail salon? We’re doing that, too. You’ll find spots everyone wants to go to mixed in with hidden gems. Basically, all the things you need to plan the ultimate L.A. itinerary.
Grab your sunglasses, big city dreams, and best friends. Los Angeles is waiting for you!
If you’ve watched any movie ever, chances are you’ve seen nightclubs filled with beautiful people ordering bottle service. At Poppy, the movies come to life. The new nightclub is drenched in whimsy and fantasy. It puts a spin on classic fairytales with decorations reminiscent of the forest and sea creatures.
It’s the latest to join a block already overflowing with extravagance. Celebs haven’t stopped talking about this place yet and there’s no sign of its popularity waning, so embrace it and be dazzling you. Just heed the news from Uncover L.A. – Poppy is only accessible to the public (read: not movie stars) on Thursday nights.
Way up high above the Hollywood Hills, there sits a secluded luxury hotel called Petit Ermitage. Its amenities, like the pool and rooftop bar, are only available to guests. So, you won’t have to fight through hordes of people to get back to your cabana. There’s also private dining available in the garden, which is an excellent way to experience nature and delicious food from the comfort of your own hotel.
According to the hotel’s booking tool, a one-night weekend stay over the summer will cost you about $350. But an unobstructed view of a California sunset is priceless.
If you’re in the mood for a little pampering, look no further than Olive and June. The shop, opened by Sarah Gibson Tuttle (an L.A. transplant via New York City), offers unmatched quality and affordability. According to Refinery 29, Sarah’s vision was to create a space that would be as welcoming as your best friend’s house. Mission accomplished.
All you have to do is pick your color (but there are over 350 to choose from) and then sit back for a relaxing mani or pedi (or both). If you need a healthy snack during your service, you can have that, too.
With fairly even (and warm) temperatures no matter the season, Los Angeles is the perfect home for a year-round outdoor tiki bar (and who doesn’t love a theme). Recently, locals and tourists alike applauded the arrival of The Broken Shaker. Its concept, underwritten by the attached Freehand Hotel, brings a taste of the tropics to a crowded but refreshing rooftop pool.
L.A. Downtown News recommends sharing the punch bowl with friends, so with that insider tip, the first round is on you. The only other advice is merely encouragement: if you fall off your flamingo float, just get back on.
With great sacrifice comes great reward. Just keep telling yourself that as you lock eyes with a woman grabbing for the same sweater as you and make the choice to pull harder or let go.
This is undoubtedly the morning scene at Jet Rag, the vintage shop you will wonder how you ever lived without. At precisely 9am every Sunday, bin after bin of pants, blouses, purses, and so much more is dumped out onto the sidewalk signaling the beginning of the sale. Everything is priced at just $1.
It’s first come first serve on items, so L.A. Magazine suggests grabbing anything that looks remotely appealing and holding on for dear life.
You won’t find another vintage shop with discounts like this. Plus, you never know what famous celeb once wore those clothes.
Usually, the best parts of a museum are inside. But at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, you might find yourself spending more time outside.
Near the entrance to the museum, art takes on a new light. Over two hundred street lamps (202, to be exact, according to the L.A. Times) are nestled together to form a structure that is as charming by day as it is by night. Strolling through the lamps, admiring visitors are transported back to the 1920s as many of the lamps are originals from that time. They silently flip on at dusk and off again at dawn, illuminating the art museum and all who walk among them.
There’s no shortage of live music venues in Los Angeles, but few as historically significant as The Mint. Originally opened in 1937 and hosting every genre of tunes since, The Mint has welcomed legends like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. Nostalgia seeps from the old wood paneling and records plastered on the ceiling. There’s no glitz and glamour here, just a new band every night and a long tradition of music.
The best seat in the house is at the front table nearest the stage, according to L.A. Weekly. So, if you’re normally a back of the house kind of person, live a little and get up close.
If it’s the views you’ve traveled long and far for, stop off at Skyspace. Set in downtown, Skyspace is California’s largest observation deck.
You’ll be able to feel the wind in your hair (it’s open air) as you get a glimpse of every corner of Los Angeles from 1,000 feet up.
For added fun, check out the Skyslide. According to Discover Los Angeles, Skyslide lets you careen down two flights in an enclosed glass box on what looks like a magic carpet. You’ll actually slide pretty slowly, but the extension of the slide from the building will make you feel alive.
Supposing you made room in your carry-on bag for workout clothes should the mood strike you, you’ll be all set to take a hike.
Just outside of the city in the San Gabriel Mountains, Angelenos and adventurers band together to conquer the ten-mile path leading to The Bridge to Nowhere. The hike itself is strenuous and will take several hours, but the end result is an opportunity to stare up at a 120-foot-high concrete bridge that looks out of place and majestic just the same (you can bungee jump if you need an adrenaline rush).
Palm trees are replaced by the wilderness and the sound of horns honking is replaced with birds chirping. According to blogger, My Domaine, it’s one of the most pristine and underrated spots to experience what Los Angeles County has to offer beyond L.A.
We thought there was already enough types of ice cream in the world and we couldn’t possibly need one more, but then we tried the latest creation from Little Damage Ice Cream. It didn’t look like something we’d want to eat, but the flavor was actually pretty great. Puzzled, we turned to the web.
According to Today, the taste comes from activated charcoal - the main ingredient used to get that signature black color in both ice cream and cone. The result is a darkly mysterious concoction that excites taste buds with flavors of almonds.
Skip the colorful sprinkles and plain vanilla scoop just this once and go for the “goth” cone.
The entirety of the craft coffee industry had its beginning at Intelligentsia way back in 2007, at least that’s what Eater Los Angeles has to say on the subject. They have also rated the chain’s eastside location as one of the city’s seventeen essential coffee bars – no small feat considering the number of shops in the area.
So, think of it as a rite of passage on your travels through Los Angeles to stop for some caffeine at one of the best. The latte art is taken to the next level, but the flavor is also other-worldly. Take your order out onto the patio to plan your next move.
Sometimes there’s more to something than meets the eye. Other times, what you see is exactly what you get. At Idle Hour, a bar and restaurant shaped like a barrel, you get the latter.
Idle Hour is leftover from a popular form of architecture that overtook Los Angeles in the 1920s. Picture yourself driving down the road and coming face to face with a massive doughnut or an airplane. For directions to the hat store, you’d be told to drive three miles past the chili bowl and park near the brim.
According to Curbed L.A. each of those buildings was in the business of whatever shape the building was constructed to look like. So, the barrel building of Idle Hour called out to thirsty patrons that the barrels were tapped and drinks were served.
Nobody is plugging an iPhone into a sound system at Bootie L.A and pushing play. The honor of playing carefully selected music goes to the resident and guest DJs, all of whom are the best in the business. L.A. Magazine writes that each weekend features a different theme (think boy bands versus girl groups, Lady Gaga and Madonna versus everybody else, Generation X versus Millennials, etc), but it’s always “mashups” or beats played over other song tracks.
It’s fun, it’s loud, and it’s big enough that you probably won’t run into anyone you know while you’re flailing about in a frenetic dance move. It’s Bootie L.A.
According to traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, n/naka is the best restaurant in Los Angeles (at least out of the 9,000 restaurants reviewed). The critics agree.
If you’ve been watching the hit series, Chef’s Table, on Netflix then you’ve probably already been dreaming of the day you could eat there. Led by Chef Niki Nakayama, the thirteen-course kaiseki tasting menu will introduce your palate to the art of taking food from the earth and giving it back to all of us in its purest form.
This culinary delight will cost you $225, but it’s the best for a reason.
It can certainly be cost-prohibitive to fall in love with Los Angeles. Thankfully, there are at least a few free things that make it possible for visitors and locals alike to savor the city on a budget. One of these is Griffith Park.
Spanning over 4,000 acres, Griffith Parks ranks as one of the largest landscaped urban parks in the country. According to Time Out, visitors can peacefully stroll the grounds or increase their activity level with a hike or bike ride on one of the trails. On the sprawling site, you’ll find the zoo, merry-go-round, and Observatory (perfect for a sunset view of the city).
Mummys, monsters, and magic. That’s just a taste of what you’ll get when you step off the red carpet at Universal Studios. It’s the hottest ticket in town to get up close and personal with your favorite Hollywood films and characters, but you might need the two-day pass to see it all.
Jump in line for access to action-packed rides like Jurassic Park, Fast & Furious, and Harry Potter. For lesser thrill seekers, there’s plenty of snack vendors and other entertainment along the route. Plus, the folks at Discover Los Angeles highly recommend the studio tour for a behind the scenes look at a movie set. It’s your chance to see what a director sees (and sit down for a while).
The old legend goes, as told by Curbed L.A., that the architect commissioned to design the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles took the job because a ghost told him to do it.
Undertaken by George Wyman at the behest of Lewis Bradbury in 1892, the Bradbury Building now sits as a lone untouched structure in a sea of change. It is the longest continually operating office building in L.A., but you won’t be put to work if you visit. Instead, just marvel at the architecture (Wyman’s first foray into design), marble stairs, iron railings, and cage elevators.
Snap a few pictures because they just don’t make them like this anymore.
Still in Los Angeles County but seemingly lightyears away from L.A., Beverly Hills offers an upscale version of the city. It is home to many celebs, but is known most for the Holy Grail of shopping referred to as Rodeo Drive. Thanks to a little movie from the 1980s called Pretty Woman, there’s nobody that hasn’t heard of it.
With over 100 stores to choose from, you’ll be in a fashionista’s paradise. Many of the items sold are exclusively carried at the Rodeo Drive location. When your bags are just too heavy, stop over for a refreshing beverage at the Beverly Wilshire.
Not to be missed is the Beverly Hills take on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Walk of Style. According to Love Beverly Hills, the names of some of fashion’s greatest icons like Versace, Armani, and Manolo Blahnik are imprinted in the sidewalk.
With the hills in the background and clear skies above, Hollywood Bowl has become an iconic landmark and premiere musical destination.
According to History, Hollywood Bowl opened in July 1922 and booked the Los Angeles Philharmonic as its first act. Its cover was a thick canvas tarp, before eventually being replaced by a hard shell, and its patrons sat on removable benches.
While all-stars like Judy Garland, The Beatles, Billie Holiday, and Elton John have graced the stage on occasion, every summer thousands of people flock back to the amphitheater to hear the Philharmonic just like they did decades ago.
Okay, you might not put a place with the word “tar” very high on your list of locations to visit while on vacation. But hear us out.
Before the Boulevard was the Boulevard, it was a haven for ice age animals of all sizes. The asphalt that boiled up from below the surface in what we now refer to as the La Brea Tar Pits perfectly fossilized the remains of animals that once stood there. From years of research, scientists now have a much better understanding of the various species (over 600!) that existed in the area during the ice age. According to Mental Floss, excavation is still going on there nearly every day of the year which means you’re getting a front row seat to a history lesson.