At the start of 2017, I promised myself I would step out of my comfort zone and take my first solo trip. Nine months later, I followed through on that promise and I could not have chosen a better city than Los Angeles! The perfect mix of urban bustle, Hollywood glam and warm beach vibes — LA is quickly solidifying itself as my second favorite US city.
1. Catch the Sunset at the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is a no-brainer when you're in LA. Ride the iconic Ferris wheel, spend some time at the beach and grab your favorite boardwalk snacks! There are plenty of reasons to go, but my favorite thing to do by far is watching the dazzling sunsets from the pier. I don't know why but sunsets are just better on the Golden Coast. (Side note: Is it just me or are sunsets and palm trees just meant to be?)
2. Hike the Runyon Canyon Trail
Runyon Canyon is a 161-acre park that starts on Hollywood Boulevard and makes its way over to the Hollywood sign. This trail is arguably one of the best places to get a view of the sign — and better yet, you never know who you'll run into there!
3. Take a Swim at The Rooftop at The Standard
Day or night, The Rooftop at The Standard is the place to be. Lay out with a cocktail, catch some sun, enjoy the beautiful views of Downtown Los Angeles, and take a dip in the pool. You won't be disappointed. The Standard also has one of the best nightlife scenes in DTLA. But remember everything closes at 2 am in Los Angeles, so make sure you get there before 1 am to ensure entry!
4. Grab Some Sushi at Nobu Malibu
As Drake said, "Nobu Nobu Nobu Nobu Nobu Nobu." Need I say more? But seriously guys, the views.
5. Take a Late Night Drive on Mulholland Drive
Hands down the best place to go for a late night drive. Mulholland Drive takes you through the sprawling mansions of Beverly Hills while overlooking the sparkling lights of LA.
6. Eat LA's Best Egg Sandwich at Egg Slut
Okay, I'm just going to go ahead and dub LA the City of the Egg Sandwich. I had an egg sandwich 3 out of the 4 days I was there — totally unplanned, totally no regrets. I don't know if the scrambled eggs are just better or if it's the way the brioche bun just melts in your mouth, all I know is the East Coast NEEDS to get on this. Now. Anyway, Egg Slut is supposed to have LA's best egg sandwich, and I can't say I disagree.
Pro-Tip: Get there as early as possible after 7:30 am because the lines get pretty long.
7. Party at The Bungalow
The most LA bar to ever exist. The Bungalow is exactly what it sounds like, a gorgeous bungalow steps away from the beach in Santa Monica. With so many different rooms and the outdoor patio, you get a different vibe from each room. It's almost like a large high-end house party on the beach. What's more LA than that?
8. Grab a Burger at In-N-Out
I still think Shake Shack is better, but I'm vegetarian so my opinion is completely irrelevant in this matter. BUT, In-N-Out is allegedly America's favorite burger chain.
9. Walk Amongst the Stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame
Find all your favorite Hollywood stars memorialized on Hollywood Boulevard. Bonus points for anyone who takes an obnoxious Instagram with Trump's star. #TagMe
10. Broad Museum
Contrary to what you may think upon first glance, this is NOT an oversized cheese grater. Rather, it's one of LA's best art museums. Some of the most popular exhibits I've seen in NYC, such as Yayoi Kasuma's 'Infinity Mirrored Room,' have appeared at The Broad in LA. It's free so sometimes the lines are out the door, so make sure to get here early.
Pro-tip: Pronounce 'broad' so it rhymes with 'toad' to sound like a local... or to avoid sounding like an idiot like me.
11. Snap Your Next Instagram Picture at LACMA's Urban Light
LACMA's Urban Light exhibit is one of LA's most iconic landmarks, but the museum is so much more than that! I highly recommend checking out the museum, which is now the permanent home of the Rain Room. If you aren't planning on checking out the museum though, don't bother paying for parking or buying a ticket to the museum. Urban Light is accessible to the public for free.
Pro-tip: Go to the museum in the late afternoon, grab some day time pictures at Urban Light, tour the museum and then some night shots when the lights actually turn on.
12. Beach Time in Malibu
The beaches in Malibu are some of the best in the Los Angeles area. I definitely prefer Malibu beach over Santa Monica and Venice beach, which are both way more touristy. You may even be able to find yourself a stretch of private beach to lay out on!
13. Stargaze at Griffith Observatory
Besides its starry appeal, Griffith Observatory, located in Griffith Park, offers some of the best panoramic views of Los Angeles. You can also grab a great shot of the Hollywood sign from the observatory. At 4,210 acres, Griffith Park is the largest urban park in the nation and has some pretty great hiking trails. Enjoy a scenic hike, walk through the Botanical Gardens, check out the observatory and make an entire day of it!
Perch is a beautiful French-inspired rooftop restaurant and bar located in Downtown LA. With a more laid back vibe than many other popular LA hot spots such as The Standard, Perch is usually on my itinerary for my first night in LA. Amazing cocktails, great vibe and even better views — what more could we possibly want?
15. Getty Villa
Modeled after a first-century Roman country house, The Getty Villa is a breathtaking art museum in Malibu, California featuring antiquities from the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans. But personally, it’s the villa and the surrounding gardens that are really the highlight of this museum. Definitely do not miss this when you visit Los Angeles!
16. Catch LA
If you go to LA and don’t grab drinks at Catch LA, did you really even go? #NOPE
17. Have a Quintessential LA Brunch
On my last trip to Los Angeles, my Uber driver told me that brunch — at least as we millennials know it — started in LA. So, I mean I really couldn’t leave without frequenting some incredible brunch spots. Here’s a list of some of my favorites: Republique, A.O.C., Sonoma Wine Garden, No Jealousy, Taste on Melrose, Rose Cafe, Brick+Mortar.
18. Sunset Beach Yoga on Venice Beach
Probably one of my favorite activities in LA — words and pictures do not do it enough justice. Beach Yoga SoCal holds amazing yoga classes daily that will fit your schedule!
19. SK Donuts
SK Donuts is Donut Heaven. That’s all. I don’t even have a sweet tooth, but I couldn’t resist getting three donuts because all the flavors are just SO DAMN GOOD. We got a cronut, a pistachio donut, one cinnamon toast crunch donut, and a chocolate covered strawberry cronut — and I honestly could not pick my favorite.
*Pro-Tip: Grab one of the cereal flavored donuts for breakfast the next day. In Ashni world, if it has cereal on it, it’s an acceptable breakfast food.
20. DTLA Arts District
Get your obligatory angel wings picture for instagram at the DTLA Arts District which is a collection of colorful art murals. Obviously there’s no better way to capture your time in the City of Angels.
21. Venice Canals
There’s more to Venice than just Venice Beach! Take a nice stroll around the Venice Canals — the Californian take of the Italian city. The canals are lined with stunning homes and connected by quint walking bridges.
22. Abbott Kinney
Heralded as one of the coolest streets in America, Abbott Kinney takes shopping to another level. It has a boho chic vibe — with the sophistication and trendiness of New York and the laidback vibe LA is so well-known for. With so many food and shopping options, you’ll never run out of things to do. Each store front also has its own unique look (and you know what that means — instagrammable walls everywhere)!
23. Hollywood Tour
Tourist trap, but totally worth it. Go check out a Hollywood Studio tour OR a take a sightseeing tour of famous celebrity homes! I recently did the Warner Brothers Studio tour and had SUCH a blast. We were able to see the set of “Friends,” actually get sorted by the “Harry Potter” sorting hat (Slytherin, anyone?), see the set of the town from “Gilmore Girls” and “Pretty Little Liars” and so much more! There are a TON of different tour options, so I recommend doing your research and finding what works best for you and your fellow travelers.
24. The SkySlide at OUE Skyspace
Have you ever wanted to take a glass slide down from the 70th floor? Well now’s your chance. The OUE Skyspace building has a 45-foot enclosed glass slide that wraps around the side of the building and takes you from the 70th floor to the 69th. It’s $25 to get to the observation deck and an additional $8 to ride the slide. OUE also has a rooftop bar called 71Above, grab a drink before or after and enjoy the aerial views of Los Angeles.
25. Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive is an upscale shopping area located in Beverly Hills, California — best known for the iconic shopping spree scene from “Pretty Woman”. If you’re hoping to catch sight of a celebrity of a fashion icon, this would be a good place to start!
With so much to offer, Los Angeles is a city that has something for everyone. So, take in the ocean breeze and make the best of your trip! xo