Los Angeles might 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 why everyone started penning goodbye letters to New York and making their way west. Under the palm trees and the Hollywood sign, the expansive city can be a little overwhelming. To narrow down your itinerary to the very best L.A. has to offer, here’s our guide for what to see, where to eat (and drink), and where to catch some Zzzs.
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. There’s no use trying to find a secret, secluded beach while vacationing in L.A., so just go to Malibu. Trust us, you won’t regret it.
The art scene in L.A. right now is unparalleled, and the number of must-see exhibits is never-ending. But if you want a one-stop-shop, head over to the LACMA, where you can see everything from The Transcendental Painting Group (on display until June 2023), or the upcoming exhibit “The Five Directions: Lacquer Through East Asia,” which explores the constant flow of ideas even during times of isolation (like, say, 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 on a hike will make you legit. The number of trails are endless, but if you have time for a day trip, head over to Angeles National Forest to breathe in some fresh air.
When in L.A., do as the Angelenos do: eat seasonal fare plucked from the city’s famous (celeb-frequented) farmer’s markets. Now, we’re not foolish enough to debate which spot offers the best food in the city, 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-ish Gucci Osteria. Helmed by the young chef Mattia Agazzi (but backed by Netflix celebrity chef Massimo Bottura) the restaurant has already received its first Michelin star for its mouthwatering handmade tortellini and Emilia Burger, which is 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-deal sushi is at n/naka. The two-Michelin star kaiseki restaurant is considered one of the best meals in the world, not just in L.A. county. Come here for fine dining, fresh fish, and tastes that explore both Californian and Japanese cuisine.
For drinks with a view, look to Bar Lis, which just opened earlier this year. We suggest coming on a Tuesday night when you can grab a fruity (but not too sweet!) cocktail while staring at the Hollywood sign, just before the lounge transforms for its weekly jazz night.
This swanky club does not have general admission, so if you’re lucky enough to squeeze inside with a reservation, don’t miss the opportunity. Delilah is the ultra-exclusive, celebrity-loved bar and restaurant with attendees including Zoe Kravitz, Drake, the Biebers, and the Jenners, so splurge here for night of cocktails and dancing.
The Dresden is an L.A. 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 to catch lounge singers Marty and Elayne on jazz night (although the pair have yet to return since the pandemic began). The ’50s lounge will set you back in time.
The West Hollywood EDITION
If you want to live like a local, but specifically one that enjoys sceney vibes and a club on-site, head over to WeHo. Specifically, book a night at The West Hollywood EDITION. Consider it an extension of the bustling neighborhood itself, complete with Ian Schrager’s sleek, modern touch oozing out of its walls.
Downtown L.A. Proper
By now, you’ve witnessed the Instagrammable mammoth that is the Santa Monica Proper. With interiors designed by Kelly Wearstler, the beach-adjacent property is a feast for your eyes. But avert your gaze a little farther south to the hotel brand’s latest addition, the Downtown L.A. 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 like their best and absolute bougiest. Bonus amenities include in-room Alo Yoga equipment, hypoallergenic wood floors, air and water purifiers, and “energizing light to help regulate circadian rhythm. You’re in LA after all. Soak it in.
Justine Carreon is the market editor at ELLE.com covering fashion, Dutch ovens, and fashion again. When she isn’t approaching style through a modern, accessible lens, she’s scouring eBay for vintage Levi’s and pretending 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 the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, she served as 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.