After living in Los Angeles for over three years, I have compiled a pretty solid list of things to do and see during a girl’s getaway. The best trip planning includes visiting a few of the different areas of the city including the downtown area, which has made a recent revival. While the city is known for its large celebrity population, don’t plan your entire vacation around seeing your favorite star. The biggest complaint from visitors is that they don’t have a celebrity sighting. Instead, enjoy your visit and keep on the lookout at the Sunday farmer’s markets and sidewalk cafes.
Whether you plan to come in the summer to visit the famous beaches of Venice or Malibu, or during winter, when temperatures are mild and fake snow is pumped out at Disneyland, Los Angeles has something for everyone. Here are a few of my top picks to visit like a local.
Best Places to Eat
The best sidewalk cafes are on Third Street, located in West Los Angeles. Try a local and celebrity favorite, Toast Bakery Café. The line on the weekends for breakfast is down the sidewalk, but well worth the wait. The menu is extensive with brunch served all day, frothy vanilla lattes, homemade soups and salads, and a red velvet cupcake that rivals Sprinkles. Try to get a seat outside for prime people watching.
If you are looking for a happy hour that won’t break the bank, try Luna Park. If you come between 4-7 on weekdays, the drinks, appetizers, pizza, and salads are buy one get one free. Yes, that means you can order the rock shrimp pizza and get your blood, orange mojito for free. Looking to splurge on a dinner out? Pizzeria Mozza is Mario Batali’s (One of Food Network’s Iron Chefs) acclaimed Hollywood restaurant. The pizza has even been dubbed the best outside of Italy. Try the popular combination of “Fennel Sausage, Panna, Red Onion and Scallions” or the squash blossoms with ricotta cheese. For desert, don’t miss out on the butterscotch, sea salt, and rosemary pine nut cookies.
Get a Tan
Skip the visit to the ever popular Santa Monica Beach and instead give Zuma Beach a try. It’s located just a little further up on the Pacific Coast Highway and well worth the scenic drive. The crowds are cut in half, and parking can be found for free. The Malibu Lumberyard is nearby with local beach inspired boutiques and fresh seafood restaurants, plus your chances of seeing a celebrity have significantly tripled.
An active day in the sun could include paddle boarding lessons. Paddle boarding is way easier to learn then surfing, and the lesson prices start at $15 for two hours with a group. Check with your hotel to see which beach has lessons depending on the day.
The ultimate shopping experience is at The Grove. If you are set on seeing on a celebrity, then this is your best shot. The Grove is an outdoor shopping mall complete with a miniature fountain that is similar to the one at the Bellagio. Live bands and performances are frequent during the summer. During the holidays, a Trolley weaves through the complex every half hour, and fake snow is blown over shoppers.
Third Street Promenade is located a block from Santa Monica beach, and you can practically hear the ocean as you watch street performers and shop at a mix of local boutiques and department stores. Try the Sonoma Wine Garden, where you can buy a preloaded card at any amount and try a variety of different wines located on islands around the outdoor patio.
If you want to get something a little more unique, the Melrose Flea Market has a tailored vintage selection. Located on the corner of Fairfax and Melrose, this trendy flea market runs every Sunday with an admission charge of only $2. It is loaded with vintage dresses, antiques, feather earrings, and handmade head pieces. Be ready to bargain, the prices can be higher then you would expect.
Hit the Town
While Hollywood may get all the press for being the nightlife capitol, head downtown for a more sophisticated, subdued crowd that starts the weekend on Thursday night. Seventh Grand is the perfect place to mingle with the opposite sex, as it is a whiskey bar with deer heads and pool tables. Now we know where all the men have been hiding.
After Seventh Grand, head over to The Crocker Club, which is located in the old bank district of Downtown. Converted from an old bank, this bar has private stalls and a big vault for private parties. With a dance floor and multiple rooms, this is a fun place to end the night.
Take a Unique Tour
Instead of taking the infamous Hollywood home tour, try to get to know the city through its food. With culinary tours of Chinatown, Hollywood, Little Tokyo, and Santa Monica, SixTaste Tours creates a foodie’s paradise. All tours explore six different restaurants in an area of town, and provide samples that best represent the culture. The Santa Monica tour explores the famous farmer’s market, where you get to try the freshest fruits and vegetables in town.
After seeing all of the glitz and glamour of the city, take a “True Crime” tour to see the dark side of fame. Esotouric runs a Black Dahlia Bus Tour, which takes you around to the investigation scenes and gives you a history of the murder. The company also runs several other themed tours around crime, famous authors, music, and city architecture.
Kalyn Ryan is a freelance travel and fashion writer living in Los Angeles. Shortly after having the job from hell, Kalyn decided to start The Idea Generator, an inspirational blog that follows Kalyn as she tackles her pursuits, interests, and personal bucket list, hoping to inspire others to travel and take risks to complete their own unique bucket lists early in life. Like she says, “You are only young once and there are no guarantees.”