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The Insider’s Guide to Los Angeles: Where to Shop, Eat, Stay and More

— Sunset Tower Hotel

Ever wish you could text the most stylish people in the world to ask them for their lists of things to do in the places they know best? Here are insider travel tips for those who would never be caught dead in a tourist trap. Bon voyage!


The vast and sprawling city of Los Angeles can be intimidating, especially as a tourist. To cut through the noise, we asked three trusted tastemakers and long-term LA residents for their tips: the fashion designer Reese Cooper; Austyn Weiner, a painter known for her large-scale, abstract work, and Emily Bielagus, co-owner of The Ruby Fruit, LA’s only LGBTQ wine bar for “the sapphically inclined.”


What to Bring

Sunglasses, of course! “The sun is no joke,” says Bielagus, who also recommends a baseball cap. And although LA’s pop-culture reputation suggests an endless summer, in reality the temperature varies dramatically throughout the day.

Gentle Monster Dear KC6 Sunglasses

Toteme Embroidered organic cotton-blend baseball cap

Sometimes it can feel like you are living through all four seasons in 24 hours, so layers are key. A jean jacket and a cozy zip up or hoodie will go a long way. Style-wise, anything goes. You can get away with wearing full glam to In-N-Out or sweatpants to a gallery opening. Fashion lovers should take advantage of the opportunity to pull a variety of looks.

AGOLDE Martika Jacket

The nature-inclined should bring their hiking boots, although you can manage in almost anything on popular trails like Runyon Canyon. (I once wore a pair of Suicoke sandals and lived to tell the tale!)

Salomon Xt-4 Og

Pack your swimsuit during the warmer months for days at the beach or by the pool. Cooper, however, says the most important thing to bring with you is the right state of mind: “Have flexibility with your schedule.”

Gucci Beige GG Bikini

What to Leave Behind

“Your friend who doesn’t believe in astrology,” jokes Bielagus. People from fast-paced cities should also try to shake off some of their frenetic energy and lean into the local pace of life. “No one in LA is in a rush. If you find yourself walking too fast, stop and literally smell the roses,” she adds. “They’re everywhere!”

What to Keep in Mind

“Los Angeles is a flake city. Expect people to cancel plans and blame it on traffic. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, it’s just the norm in LA,” says Weiner. “If they don’t cancel, everyone gets a 30 minute grace period.” The SNL skit “The Californians” is not that much an exaggeration: people in LA constantly talk about traffic because it is a massive ordeal. When planning your days, do your best to avoid traveling during rush hours. And though you can get by with Uber, renting a car is without a doubt the most convenient way to see the city. Driving through the city is also part of the fun! If you do choose to walk, just be prepared for people to look at you like you have three heads. Weiner also offers a final word of caution: “Don’t be alarmed by how often people discuss energies and vibes. You are, in fact, still on planet Earth.”


Where to Stay

“Friends who visit like the Hollywood Roosevelt, the West Hollywood Edition and the Palihouse [which has several locations in the city],” says Cooper. Generally, neighborhoods like Santa Monica and West Hollywood are recommended for first-timer visitors.

“If you want the full Cali experience and are willing to splurge, I recommend the Santa Monica Proper Hotel,” Weiner says.

But for anyone interested in exploring the Eastside — which is farther from the water but in many cases more interesting and less touristy — Weiner and Bielagus both recommend Silver Lake Pool & Inn [also owned by Palisociety], where you can swim and enjoy a fabulous view of the Hollywood Hills and the Griffith Observatory.

It is also conveniently located close to what might be the most Los Angelean thing about Los Angeles: an outpost of the cult grocery store Erewhon, “where you can spend all of your money on pre-cut carrots,” Weiner adds.

Where to Start the Day

One word: Maru. Not only does this café have some of the best coffee and matcha in Los Angeles, their three locations, in Los Feliz, the Arts District and Beverly Hills, offer prime people-watching and celeb spotting. Don’t miss out on some of their more creative options, like the cream top or spiced cold brew (which is my favorite drink in the world).

For breakfast, Cooper recommends the Italian restaurant Little Dom’s on Hillhurst Avenue. In Silverlake, Weiner recommends the Acai Bowl at Millie’s Cafe, and Maury’s for bagels and rugelach. Eating a breakfast burrito is an LA rite of passage: Try them at Cofax in Fairfax or All Time in Los Feliz.

Where to Eat

Bielagus’ favorite restaurant in town is Kismet, on the edge of Los Feliz and East Hollywood: “The sleeper hit on the menu is their cranberry beans. Don’t sleep on the beans!”

Anyone looking for Mexican food (a major part of the local culinary scene) should try tacos at Tu Madre for something more casual, or Salazar for an impeccable atmosphere in their garden. “Budnoki is a brand new restaurant in Silver Lake that feels like an authentic and unique Japanese dining experience. I appreciate the unpretentious feel,” Weiner says. She also recommends Quarters Korean BBQ. “They cook everything at the table. Don’t wear anything too precious because you will leave smelling like bulgogi.” Pace, a cozy Italian spot tucked away in Laurel Canyon; Sonoratown, an award-winning taqueria on San Vincente; and Cafe Stella a hip French bistro in Silverlake, are all on Cooper’s list of favorites. Bestia, the hip-hop-blasting Italian restaurant in downtown LA, is famous for good reason. Scoring a dinner reservation there is unlikely for anyone who hasn’t planned ahead, but it’s easy to get lucky during lunch.

Where to Shop

Vintage shopping in LA is generally overpriced and overrated, but anyone looking for serious archival designer pieces should check out Aralda, a collectors dream in Beachwood Canyon. Cooper suggests Rose Bowl Flea, which pops upon the second Sunday of every month, and Atwater Village Farmer’s Market, which runs every Saturday from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M..

For people who enjoy lazy mornings, Weiner recommends Cookbook, which offers fresh, local products from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M, seven days a week. “If you sleep in too late to go to the farmer’s market, Cookbook will go for you. They offer a great selection of flowers and produce.” She also loves Block Shop, which has “incredible printed textiles with natural dyes.” Bielagus recommends the colorful and quirky boutique Prelude & Dawn and the vintage store The Bearded Beagle for gifts. Dover Street Market, which is located in a warehouse in downtown LA, is a great place to spend an afternoon.

Give yourself a full hour to explore all of its hidden corners and quirky installations. House of Intuition is mecca for all things tarot and witchcraft — and is the kind of place that feels like it could only exist in LA. Buy one of their magic candles as a souvenir (I swear they work).

Where to Look at Art

Contrary to popular belief, LA is filled with great museums and a fast-growing gallery scene. If you do one art-related thing, go to the sprawling Hauser & Wirth complex in the Arts District. “There are multiple galleries so you can see more than one show. They also have an incredible bookstore,” said Weiner.

Bieglas also suggests getting a drink and a snack at Manuela, the restaurant in the middle of their open-aired atrium. Cooper says The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is another spot not to miss. He also recommends the delightfully bizarre Museum of Jurassic Technology, which has an eclectic collection of curiosities. Weiner is a big fan of The Hammer (“It’s free!”) and I am partial to The Broad, which feels like LA’s answer to The Whitney Museum in New York.

Where to Unwind

If you’re a fan of yoga or any other imaginable form of exercise, there’s a 99% chance you can find a great class in LA. Wellness is as fundamental to culture in Los Angeles as clubbing is to Berlin or fashion is to Paris, so if you enjoy breaking a sweat, explore what the city has to offer. For a butt-kicking reformer pilates class in downtown LA, try Lagree213. For something a little more out of the box, try Body Dada in Highland Park or AIR Aerial Fitness in Brentwood.

Weiner recommends The Raven in Silver Lake for a great Thai massage. Both and she Bielagus also love the luxe retreat Olympic Spa. “Get the Goddess treatment. It’s a splurge but worth every penny,” says Bielagus. The Now, a contemporary spa with various locations throughout LA, is a great place for something last minute. It’s kind of like the Pinkberry of massages. They offer a long list of enhancements that you can add as toppings to your “journey” (a very Californian word for “treatment”) like Gua Sha and Hemp Calm Balm.

Where to Get Some Fresh Air

“I love all of the areas just outside of the city. You can be in the foothills of the mountains within the same time that it takes you to get from one side of the city to the other,” says Cooper. Weiner also recommends the bike path along the LA river in Frogtown, and The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in the spring.

A trip to Malibu is always a quick and easy way to escape the city smog. “My favorite hike is Solstice Canyon Loop in Malibu. It’s perfect in every way,” says Bielagus. It’s also great for a beach day spent admiring local surfers or sipping watermelon juice at the idyllic Malibu Pier.

Where to Have a Drink

Although it is one of LA’s biggest hot spots for queer women, The Ruby Fruit welcomes everyone. “We also have an Indigo Girls-themed bathroom,” says Bielagus. “What more do you need!?”

Cooper’s go-tos for a solid cocktail are Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel and Club Tee Gee in Atwater Village. In true LA fashion, Weiner is not a drinker. But if she was, she said she’d head to Chateau Marmont, an iconic hotel that’s one of the city’s most notorious (and fabulous!) cultural institutions.

Where to Stay Up Late

Depending on your definition of late, nowhere—everything closes at 2 A.M., and most major parties happen in private homes. “There isn’t much nightlife in LA. It’s mostly about who you’re with, not where you are. The curfew affects things more than you’d think,” Cooper says. That being said, it’s not completely impossible to find a cute dance floor. Bielagus recommends hitting Honey’s around midnight for “the holy trinity,” as she calls it: “fun DJs, mezcal cocktails and hotties.”


If you’re from a cold climate, go in winter. “Then you can shove it in everyone else’s faces that it’s sunny and 70 degrees!” Weiner jokes. Be warned, though: the temperatures can drop into the 40s at night from December to February. “Spring is the best,” says Bielagus, who recommends coming when the Jasmine trees are blooming in February or March, or when the Jacarandas flower in late April or early May. “Everything is purple!” she says.

— Getty

If you hate crowds but love the sorts of places that draw them (like Bestia, for example), Cooper recommends coming during Coachella, when everyone is away and the city quiets down.

— Getty


“If you’re the type of person who wants to go on a secluded waterfall hike in the morning, visit a taco truck in the afternoon and see a contemporary music ensemble perform in a raw gallery space in the evening, this is the place for you!” Bielagus says. While Los Angeles is maybe less tourist-friendly than cities where driving isn’t necessary, it offers the thrill of a metropolis and the rejuvenation of a beach or mountain escape. The sheer size of LA means having access to pretty much anything you want to eat, do or see, according to Cooper. “The thing about being able to surf in the morning and snowboard in the afternoon is pretty true. And as much as you hear otherwise, everyone is genuinely pretty nice. It’s hard to be in a bad mood in this city.”

Source: W Magazine

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