Before moving to New York, I spent eight years in California and I’m lucky enough to still be able to head back regularly to see friends and visit with clients. I always have a great time when I get to spend some time in Los Angeles and today, I wanted to round up my favorite places to eat, drink, and be merry in the city of angels. And better yet? A lot of these spots are Instagram-worthy ;). Pick a handful from each category and you’ll no doubt have a perfect long weekend in the land of stars.
Tucked into the hills of Malibu, the Getty Villa is home to a vast collection of Greek and Roman art and some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve seen (the ocean backdrop doesn’t hurt). It’s free to visit which keeps me coming back time and again.
While The Broad can’t compete with other major art museums in terms of size, the contemporary museum is filled with an extensive collection of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons that promises to impress. The best part? It’s free so just reserve your ticket in advance to avoid a long line.
The Last Bookstore
What I expected to be a quick stop into this used bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) to check out some of the local art on display turned into an hours long adventure wandering the labyrinth of stacks. Don’t miss the famous book arch on the second floor.
Shop Melrose Avenue
Melrose Avenue is home to some of the best shopping in LA. A couple don’t miss spots: The Apartment by The Line (so much #interiordesigninspo), The Row, Maxfield and of course, Paul Smith (that pink wall though…).
Another great shopping spot, Abbot Kinney in Venice is home to some of my favorite contemporary brands like Cuyana, rag & bone as well as a few perfectly curated boutiques and one of my favorite stationery stores, Urabanic.
Santa Monica Pier
The pier is a great place to stop for a little adventure. The carnival games and rides are always fun and the view of the mountains up in Malibu on a clear day is beautiful.
I could wander around the canals in Venice for hours. One of the most peaceful places in L.A., I love a chance to grab a cup of coffee and take a morning walk around such a unique neighborhood.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the iconic street lamp installation outside of the LA County Museum of Art. The museum also has a great calendar of events including a bucket list item of jazz in the summer on their lawn.
Platform is a recent addition to the Culver City neighborhood and definitely worth a visit. The outdoor shopping area is full of curated LA favorites like Tom Dixon, Reformation and Janessa Leone as well as unique short term pop ups. Grab a coffee at Blue Bottle and enjoy one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in town.
You may not think much when you hear “vegan mexican” (actually I purposely avoided this spot for years despite hearing great things) but man, not only is the food delicious, the West Hollywood location is super gram-worthy with a huge patio full of great light and loads of pretty tiles and colorful accents.
Jon & Vinny’s
Yes, the homemade pasta and fresh pizza’s at Jon & Vinny’s qualify it for my list of LA favorites but the true star of this restaurant is the extensive dessert and pastries menu that is nothing short of heavenly.
You’ve probably seen their very Instagrammable cups around the internet but their marketplace of fresh salads, sandwiches and desserts make it really worth the visit.
A Venice favorite, Gjelina is perfect for pretty much any meal of the day. I love to start my day there with a breakfast meeting when I’m in town (they open at 8am seven days a week!) and the pizzas on their dinner menu are all worthy of a mention. Pro tip: make a reservation now. It’s a popular spot!
I am almost drooling thinking about the pesto rice bowl and ricotta toast I had on my last visit to Sqirl. And if you’re not convinced, check out their perfectly curated Instagram. (I love this spot so much that I try to recreate the pesto rice bowl at home on the reg!)
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw is known for their unique flavor options (think Bone Marrow with Smoked Cherries and Black Olive Brittle with Goat Cheese) and a line out the door. But trust me, it is worth the wait. I like the Venice location on Abbot Kinney but there are also four others around the city.
Grand Central Market
A big food hall with everything from fresh oysters to organic Thai food, Grand Central Market is a must stop on your DTLA tour. Stop by after a tour of The Broad, it’s a quick walk.
Stop by the rooftop at the Ace Hotel for a couple perfectly crafted cocktails in an Instagram-worthy setting with a can’t beat view of downtown LA.
Malibu Wines is the perfect place to spend a sunny LA day with a group of friends. Come with a picnic and blankets, I would definitely recommend getting their early or making a reservation.
Stop by here for a great cup of coffee and to scope out the fun art around the space. And of course to snap a shot of the ever famous “But first, coffee” signs and cup sleeves. Plus, the people watching is A+!
Alfred’s Tea Room
A sister spot to Alfred’s Coffee, Alfred’s Tea Room is a perfectly appointed space featuring an elaborate selection of teas, chic gold accents and a few undeniably Instagram-worthy corners including a neon pink “Tea, yes. You, maybe” sign. Stop in for an iced matcha to coordinate well with your surroundings.
The rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin is a gorgeous place to take in those classic California sunsets. The Spicy Mango Tree cocktail is a personal favorite and a great place to start a night out.
When I first heard I could burn 800 calories in a heated sleeping bag while watching Netflix, I was curious to say the least. But let me tell you, the high after leaving a sweat session at Shape House is incredible and with benefits including glowing skin and better sleep, it’s a wellness must stop in LA.
Runyon Canyon Hike
This is one of the most popular hikes in LA but for good reason. The 2-mile loop isn’t too hard but promises great people watching and spectacular views of the Hollywood sign, The Getty, and downtown LA.
Bike Ride from Venice to Santa Monica
After brunch in Venice, rent a couple bikes from one of the many vendors along the beach and head north to Santa Monica Pier. Its a beautiful ride and one of my favorite ways to explore the Venice boardwalk.
What are your favorite spots in Los Angeles?