Los Angeles may be the city of angels, but it’s also the city of influencers, beach culture, art, food and much, much more. After all, there’s a reason everyone started writing goodbye letters to New York and heading west. Beneath the palm trees and the Hollywood sign, the sprawling city can be a bit overwhelming. To narrow down your itinerary to the very best LA has to offer, here’s our guide to what to see, where to eat (and drink), and where to catch some Zzzs.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There’s no point trying to find a secret, secluded beach while on vacation in LA, so just head to Malibu. Trust us, you won’t regret it.
The art scene in LA right now is second to none and the number of must-see exhibitions is endless. But if you want a one-stop shop, head over to LACMA, where you can see everything from The transcendental painting group (on display until June 2023), or the upcoming exhibition “The Five Directions: Lac through East Asia,” which explores the constant flow of ideas even in times of isolation (such as Covid-19).
Angeles National Forest
Debating whether Runyon Canyon is an actual hike or a walk with a slight incline is the most Los Angeles thing you can do. Actually going hiking will make you legit. The number of trails is endless, but if you have time for a day trip, head over to the Angeles National Forest for some fresh air.
When in LA, do as the Angelenos do: eat seasonal foods picked from the city’s famous (famously frequent) farmers markets. Now, we’re not stupid enough to debate which place offers the best food in town, but Ardor’s milk bread and onion rings aredefinitely up there.
Gucci and pasta, what’s not to love? Get a taste of Italy on Rodeo Drive at the new Gucci Osteria. Helmed by young chef Mattia Agazzi (but backed by Netflix celebrity chef Massimo Bottura), the restaurant has already received its first Michelin star for its mouth-watering handmade tortellini and the Emilia Burger, rumored to be the best burger you’ll ever taste in your life.
The idea of accidentally being mistaken for a celebrity at Nobu is tempting, but the real sushi is at n/naka. The two Michelin star Kaiseki restaurant is considered one of the best meals in the world, not just in LA County. Come here for fine dining, fresh fish and flavors that explore both Californian and Japanese cuisine.
For drinks with a view, look to Bar Lis, which just opened earlier this year. We suggest you come on a Tuesday night, when you can grab a fruity (but not too sweet!) cocktail while gazing at the Hollywood sign, just before the lounge transforms into its weekly jazz night.
This chic club doesn’t have general admission, so if you’re lucky enough to squeeze in with a reservation, don’t miss out. Delilah is the ultra-exclusive, celebrity-loved bar and restaurant with patrons including Zoe Kravitz, Drake, the Biebers, and that Jenners, so bargain here for an evening of cocktails and dancing.
Dresden is an LA institution, but not necessarily for its steak dinners and killer cocktails. Yes, this iconic Los Feliz landmark is rumored to be haunted. And yes, it has been featured in films such as Swingers. But the real draw is catching lounge singers Marty and Elayne on jazz night (although the pair have yet to return since the pandemic began). The 50’s lounge will take you back in time.
West Hollywood EDITION
If you want to live like a local, but specifically one who enjoys scenic ambiance and an on-site club, head over to WeHo. Specifically, book a night at West Hollywood EDITION. Consider it an extension of the bustling neighborhood itself, complete with Ian Schrager’s sleek, modern touch oozing from the walls.
Downtown LA Proper
Now you’ve seen the Instagrammable mammoth that is Santa Monica Proper. With interiors designed by Kelly Wearstler, the beachfront property is a feast for your eyes. But look a little further south to the hotel brand’s latest addition, Downtown LA Proper, a landmark building with a modern twist.
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Enjoy the finer things in life at the Four Seasons. Stay in its brand new Wellness rooms in particular – an entire floor dedicated to making guests feel their best and absolute best. Bonus amenities include in-room Alo Yoga equipment, hypoallergenic hardwood floors, air and water purifiers, and “energizing lights to help regulate circadian rhythms. You’re in LA, after all. Soak it up.”
Justine Carreon is Market Editor at ELLE.com, covering fashion, dutch ovens and fashion again. When she’s not approaching style through a modern, accessible lens, she looks for vintage Levi’s on eBay and pretends she knows how to surf. Before joining ELLE.com in 2015, she worked as a freelance writer and stylist in New York City.
Claire Stern is deputy editor at ELLE.com. Previously, she was an editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton and The hills– not necessarily in that order. She used to have a Harriet the Spy notebook and isn’t ashamed to admit it.