I’ve escaped to LA twice now so while I don’t pretend to be an expert, I did spend a lot of time hunting out the best places to eat and hang out. I also love quizzing my friends here in Northern California on where they go in LA. I hope you find these tips helpful if you’re planning a trip.
1. Escape the city and head to the beach
I love Santa Monica beach but of you want the real Baywatch style beach experience head to Zuma Beach in Malibu. After a day at the beach have a cocktail on Malibu pier and enjoy dinner at Malibu Farm overlooking the sea. It is one of the most stunning spots I’ve ever eaten and the farm to table food was perfect.
2. Embrace being a tourist
One of my friends amazed me by insisting we do the TMZ tour. He is not at all into celebrity watching but he was right. It is a hilarious tour and takes in all the main sights. It was a great way for us to get our bearings on our first day.
The second time we went to LA we happened upon the Beverly Hills trolley tour which was a total bargain and pretty much the total opposite of the TMZ tour. We loved it. We got to see some amazing homes and places like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Rodeo Drive. All very Pretty Woman and costs a very un-Beverly Hills $5 for the 45 minute tour.
3. Hike the Hollywood sign
I had always thought LA was a car town. But because we stayed in West Hollywood we managed to walk a lot. I always love to walk around cities. I find most of my favorite things are the tiny spots I happen upon on the way to the places I have planned to see. We found a great hike back up around the houses near the Hollywood sign. I love a bit of house spotting so I was in heaven. And touristy as it may be, seeing the Hollywood sign is a must.
4. Exercise like a local (to balance out all the eating)
It doesn’t get much more LA than taking a Soul Cycle class in West Hollywood then stopping for a green juice afterwards. Soul Cycle is insane and a brilliant workout. It is the closest I get to going clubbing now I’m a mum. When we took a class we bumped into Micky Rourke outside which pretty much made it a perfect LA day.
5. Hang out in a hotel
Chateau Marmont is an institution and rightly so. I love, love, love this place and one day, if I can save enough, I plan to take up residence for a month in my own suite there. Until then I make do with a trip whenever I’m in LA. The first time we went we lucked out on a table in the courtyard and sat a few feet away from the dreamy Alexander Skarsgard. The last time we went we had drinks and dinner in Bar Marmont. The food, cocktails and service are fabulous. It is dark and moody and you feel like you are always a moment away from witnessing something you shouldn’t.
6. Eat, drink and be inspired in my fav places
It is easy to think of LA being full of size 000 ladies who lunch picking at salads and off-duty actors sipping green juices in yoga pants. Of course that happens and it is fabulous to witness, but LA has an amazing food scene. Here are some of the places I love…
I have a bit of a food crush on Suzanne Goin, the chef-owner of Lucques. So I was chuffed when Mr Tomato booked us in at her restaurant as a surprise. The food and service was amazing. It is the kind of food you want to eat. I know that sounds silly but often I go out to eat and the food all sounds great but isn’t isn’t really what I want. It is rare I get excited about dessert as I’m more of a savoury girl, but the S’more dessert we had was one of the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere.
A gorgeous dimly lit Italian restaurant in Santa Monica. Chris Martin and Rhianna had been in the night before. Leo is a regular too. They have good taste because the food was stunning.
This place was just near our hotel and had a beautiful outdoor seating area. I could have ordered everything off the menu but settled on the avocado toast which was amazing. It is a perfect brunch spot and has inspired me to have stripy black and cream seating in my new kitchen.
A great meat-led menu. All the meat is local and is butchered in house. They also make their own charcuterie. My husband was in heaven.
We wandered down to this place for coffee and a breakfast burrito one morning to undo the damage from a night of cocktails. It is a hole in the wall but the food was perfect. They serve (and we ate) Stumptown coffee, kombucha, organic burritos and artisan donuts. No other hangover cure will ever be as good.
When we wandered in here my husband said that if I ever opened a cafe this is what it would be like. It is all your dream of when you want to find somewhere for a casual brunch or lunch. They make everything in house. The bakery is amazing and the salads and savoury dishes are super fresh and perfectly balanced. The cooks here really know what they are doing and their care comes through with every mouthful.
You must get yourself to this coffee shop. It is a lovely spot to hang out with a croissant and a coffee and watch the world go by. It is bang in the middle of Melrose Place (I know – its an actual place not just a TV show) so you can window shop in all the lovely boutiques round about. This is one of the prettiest streets in LA – think West Village in New York or Chelsea in London.
Where have I missed? Let me know where you love in LA.