Los Angeles is often touted as a stopover destination rather than THE destination, but it’s time to put it’s bad reputation aside and consider LA as a city beyond the Hollywood Sign and bunch of stars in the sidewalk. Yes, you do need to check out both of these attractions at least once, but there’s more to LA than just a place to sleep en route to somewhere else. Here’s our top picks of where to eat, sleep and visit when in LA.
WHAT TO DO:
HIKE HOLLYWOOD SIGN HIKE
There’s something about hiking near the Hollywood Sign that makes you forget about the scorching heat and rolling hills and just take it all in. It’s not a difficult hike by any means, but ensure you bring along a fair bit of water and maybe even a snack as the hike can take an hour or two (depending on how far you want to go). You can actually hike up behind the Hollywood Sign and take pics through the fence of the sign and Los Angeles city beyond.
*Hiking the Hollywood Sign Hike.
WALK HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD
Walking paces of Hollywood Boulevard offers that ‘never know what you’re gonna get’ kind of feeling and if you’re thinking that, you’d be absolutely right. Men walking around with huge snakes slung on their neck, Superheros on stilts looking equally fantastic and scary, music acts riding by singing on a mic stopping traffic, gangsta-looking fellows lurking in the back streets looking like they might be hiding a gun. It’s a tourist mecca and whilst it can be a bit overwhelming, it has to be seen at least once (even if it’s just to get a glimpse of the stars on the Walk of Fame).
VISIT SANTA MONICA & VENICE BEACH
These are the iconic places in California that again need to be seen at least once. They’re the type of places that you can just wander around for hours and have a different experience every time you come. Consider hiring bikes and cruising along the bike track – it’s an easy way to get around and in summertime the breeze with the wind in your hair feels like heaven.
*Looking out to Santa Monica Pier.
*The view from the bike track on Venice Beach.
CATCH THE SUNSET FROM GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
LA is quite flat in most areas so it can be hard to capture a good view of the city. The Griffith Observatory is one of the highest places that you can capture that fantastic view and it’s open until 10pm so plenty of time to watch the sunset. Hot tip however – Do not even bother going there if there’s a concert on at the Greek Theatre which is next door. Traffic gets jammed and almost immovable, making the experience not very pleasant. Also, parking can be tight so consider catching an Uber (which are pretty cheap in LA)!
*Sunset at Griffith Observatory.
WHAT TO EAT:
If you’re a fan of healthy but extremely tasty food, keep reading. Gracias Madre is vegan Mexican food at its finest. Serving organic, farm fresh, locally sourced food that is none other than delicious. Plating up the favourites like guacamole and sweet corn, it’s traditional Mexican with a vegan twist. And if you’re a fan of a bit of celeb spotting, it’s located on Melrose Ave so you could get lucky and spot Jada Pinkett Smith getting followed by Paparazzi like we did.
8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Located in a few different spots around LA, Mercado is affordable Mexican that’s always incredibly fresh and tasty. It’s great for a table for two or even bigger groups as a spot to start off the night. Serving a beautiful array of cocktails and Mexican favourites with a twist, Mercado is a go-to when in LA.
Various destinations around the city: http://www.cocinasycalaveras.com/mercado/
Again located in a few different spots around LA, Urth Caffe is farm to table, fresh and organic food for those that are a little more health conscious. Being vegan or vegetarian when travelling can be tricky but these places make it easy!
Various destinations around the city: https://www.urthcaffe.com/caffe/locations
WHERE TO PLAY:
E.P & L.P
Delicious food and a rooftop bar? Say no more. E.P & L.P in LA is the brainchild of Grant Similie (of TV Rock fame), Longrain’s former head chef, Louis Tikaram and David Combes. This ‘multi level Asian Eating House’ in West Hollywood is the place to be, often attracting guests like Justin Beiber and Matt Damon. Besides celebrity spotting, the venue makes incredible cocktails and food, with dishes like Fijian inspired Cheviche and Sticky Spare Ribs. To top it all off, the rooftop is the perfect spot to catch the sunset whilst mingling with LA’s finest.
603 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Hands down one of the best bars ever visited, No Vacancy in LA has to be seen to be believed. Lining up for entrance can incite a mix of anticipation and confusion – The entry is literally in an old car park and upon walking through the doors you are brought into a tiny room with a bed, where a scantily clad woman lies for moments without saying a word. The first time I visited, I actually thought I’d been duped by friends who had taken me to a strip club instead. But alas, these half naked women are all part of the entertainment, with outfits looking more Moulin Rouge, than Californian Girl. This swanky bar mixes cocktails with the bygone days of Hollywood, offering up the kind of place where bartenders and celebrities like to drink. The venue looks closely like an old Hollywood House and I suspect it just might be, but this only adds to the overall charm. The dance floor resembles a lounge room and the outdoor area resembles someone’s backyard. Expect incredible entertainment ranging from tightrope walkers, burlesque shows and jazz music, No Vacancy LA somewhat tellingly is hard to get into, and don’t be surprised if you find that there is in fact, no vacancy.
1727 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA
WHERE TO STAY:
FARMER’S DAUGHTER HOTEL
This is the type of hotel that feels like a home away from home, then somehow starts to feel like you’d prefer this place over your own home. Simple comforts combined with all the trimmings make Farmer’s Daughter Hotel a necessity when staying in LA. Rooms are spacious and immaculate, the onsite pool provides a solace from the heat, and the extra offerings like yoga in the mornings and free bike hire make it so much more than just another hotel. Dining options at the hotel’s restaurant Tart are first class and they make an incredible Bloody Mary – What more could you want then laying around in their communal lounging area, soaking up the sun and sipping on a cocktail?
115 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA
*Farmer’s Daughter Hotel.
If you have any questions about your trip to LA, send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow through pictures on Instagram at @herwanderingeyes
*All images by Tahlia at Her Wandering Eyes.