Wellp. I’m a Cali girl now! I travel to Los Angeles often, but this summer I had the opportunity to stay a whole month and I would say this time around, I truly fell deeply in love with the city. What attracts me the most to LA is the energy. There is always something to do, someone to see, and a 75 and sunny day ahead of you; from food to fitness to shopping and everything in between. Here is a city guide that you don’t want to miss if you’ll be visiting any time soon! That said, I’m always looking for more recommendations, so make sure to leave your favorite spots in the comments, too!
Quick note before I go into the list. I want to thank Volvo for lending me the Volvo XC90 for my stay in LA. This was my first time driving a luxury car and when I say ‘luxury’ I mean this bad boy was GORGEOUS, parked itself, had massaging seats, and drives itself if you need to you need to take your hands off of the wheel for a couple of seconds. *Mind blown* Having a car in Los Angeles was clutch because the city is extremely spread out. I am actually in the market for a new car and am so happy I experienced driving a Volvo.
WHAT TO DO IN LOS ANGELES
Bike Along The Beach (Venice to Manhattan Beach)
It wouldn’t really be a trip to Los Angeles without a visit to the beach, would it? So I started with a visit to Venice, not my favorite beach but definitely worth checking out! The famous boardwalk (Rocket Power anyone!?) in Venice is home to Muscle Beach, skateboard parks, and some pretty eclectic shops and restaurants. It’s pretty fun to walk around the area but if you want a more relaxing experience, head south to Manhattan Beach. We rented bikes and biked the sidewalk next to the beach. This was a 10.2 mile bike ride and because the whole route is flat, it was quite the workout! The bike rentals along the beach are overpriced and terrible quality so I recommend bringing your own bikes or renting from somewhere closer in the city!
If you’re looking to get in a sweat sesh and also spend some time outdoors, Runyon Canyon is the best. It’s located at the base of the Hollywood Hills, and has a few different trail options so I would just google and do your research. It’s dog friendly, and is usually packed with locals who are getting in their daily steps. I love the view, it’s pretty amazing! Make sure you bring sunblock. I got a pretty gnarly burn the last time I hiked.
It wouldn’t really be a trip to Los Angeles without a stroll down Rodeo Drive, would it? Now this famous strip is technically in Beverly Hills, which is West Hollywood’s neighbor to the west. It’s pretty fun to walk around the area, do some window shopping, and see what Rodeo is all about!
If you have time to drive up to Malibu, I highly recommend you check into a Malibu Wine Safari. I fed a giraffe, pet a zebra, and tasted delicious wine a long the way. After the wine safari we drove to Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch for lunch and a little frosé. This place is every bloggers DREAM. Chandeliers hang from the trees, and cabanas stand sentry on the meadow that surrounds a picturesque pond where you can paddleboat. It’s the cutest. Matador Beach is the most stunning beach in Malibu and won’t be as crowded as most of the other more popular spots in Malibu.
Santa Monica Pier
No doubt one of the most iconic destinations in LA, the Santa Monica pier is one of LA’s most valuable gems. This is a little more touristy spot but if you’ve never been, spend a day riding the roller coaster, soaking in the views on Ferris wheel, and just be 14 years old again! The pier is also located right next to Third Street Promenade where you can do some MAJOR shopping damage.
WHERE TO SHOP IN LOS ANGELES
I know shopping on vacay is sometimes looked down upon. I know, I know, ‘you can shop anywhere’ but not when it comes to Abbott Kinney in Venice. This street is completely unique. Abbott Kinney is home to some of the city’s most stylish boutiques, galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. It’s definitely a hippy haven in LA and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out! Go to Salt and Straw for a mid -afternoon sweet treat. Order the vegan strawberry ice cream flavor and then thank God that there is something out there that tastes THAT GOOD.
Funny story. The first time I ever visited LA I went to the Grove for a little shopping spree. That day I saw Giuliana Rancic, Brody Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner (back then it was Bruce Jenner), AND Jason Derulo. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time there on out! It can get a bit crowded but The Grove on 3rd and Fairfax has a pretty incredible selection of stores. Pop into Nordstrom, J. Crew, Anthropologie, Madewell, The Nike Store, The Apple Store, Zara, or Topshop. You’ll also want to walk around the Farmer’s Market at The Grove, which is full of fun spots to eat and shop.
Third Street Promenade
A couple of streets over from the Santa Monica Pier, Third Street really does have it ALL. From Nordstrom to Bloomingdales to J.Crew to Lululemon, this outdoor walking mall truly has it all and was my number one spot to shop while living in Playa Vista.
WHERE TO SIP IN LOS ANGELES
Ace Hotel Rooftop Bar
This hidden gem is straight up SWANKY HIPSTER. Though the roof has a pool and lounge chairs, the emphasis isn’t really on swimming — but you’re there for poolside cabanas, downtown views, and the impeccable drinks. This was my favorite spot to catch up with old friends, meet new friends, and just experience LA. I’d call them if you have issues finding the bar. It’s a little difficult to find!
The Bungalow Santa Monica
It’s not a trip to Santa Monica without visiting the Bungalow. Dean from the Bachelor was there the night after we went. (LOL) The outdoor bar is part of the Fairmont Hotel, and it draws in a fun crowd every night of the week. You can play a game of pool or ping-pong while sipping your refreshment. Go early on a Saturday (they open at noon but it gets crowded around 2 p.m.) and order yourself their house spicy margarita. 🙂
WHERE TO EAT IN LOS ANGELES
Mercado Santa Monica
Get your gang together and make a reservation at Mercado. A tasty Mexican restaurant that rivals the Tex-Mex food in Texas. Super chic spot for dinner!
Jordan’s favorite spot in LA. One of those meals we had where we barely spoke to each other and just ate in silence because it was that dang good. Urth has a great selection of organic coffee and teas, and is also a really fun people watching spot. There are multiple locations in LA and if you need coffee but you’re hungry too, they also serve great food and desserts. I usually go for breakfast. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
Lemonade is a go-to lunch spot that does not disappoint. It’s a casual place—you order at the counter (where you’ll notice dozens of pastries, cookies and goodies baked fresh that day), and take your number to a table to dine. Just think healthy southern cooking (aka every girl’s dream).
Blue Plate Taco
Aw I absolutely LOVE this spot. The ambiance is surfer-cool, with rattan lamps hanging from the inside space, and iron star chandeliers providing light to the outdoor patio. Must-order: The lobster tacos with truffle sauce and the Passion Smash Margarita (and of course guacamole)!
WHERE TO STAY IN LOS ANGELES
Shutters on the Beach
The cutest place I’ve stayed in LA. Shutters is in the perfect location, right on the beach and in the hub of Santa Monica. Take the bike path to Manhattan Beach or Malibu, and the Santa Monica Pier is just a quick 10 minute walk! Definitely recommend Shutters on the Beach for a more relaxed stay in LA!