Things to Do in LA
Welcome to my ultimate list of things to do in LA! I’m simplifying tackling the Los Angeles scene with this curated list of hotels, restaurants and things to do. This is my LA-local’s guide to the city, so this guide contains a mix of classic Los Angeles hot spots and hidden gems that local’s can appreciate.
♥ Mercado Multiple Locations ( Santa Monica, Weho, & Hollywood )
Highlights: THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. I lived right by the Weho location, and I enjoyed many a dinner, brunch, and cocktail hour here! Not only is the decor cool as shit, but the vibes are relaxed & the food is perfect. Happy Hour is a great budget-friendly option with lots of food/drink options.
Brunch Favorites: The Guayaba Mimosa, the Chips & Guac and Choriqueso and the Huevos Rancheros are freakin’ great.
Cocktail Favorites: FAVORITE Spicy Cucumber Margs EVER!
Dinner Picks: Mercado has the best Fish Tacos in Los Angeles… to me at least ( & my picky as hell Mother agrees! ). Start with Chips & Guac and some Choriqueso and snag one of those amazing Spicy Margs.
Toast Bakery Cafe 8221 West 3rd Street
Highlights: The menu at Toast is big, they have something for everyone, & the service is absolutely amazing! The food is classic & consistently good. People tell me its a celebrity-fav (my little brother wants to eat every meal here when my family is in town because he says its Ariana Grande’s fav… and he loves her), but I have yet to spot anyone notable… maybe one day!
Favorites: I always order the Breakfast Combo with Scrambled Eggs, Fruit, Turkey Sausage & Multi-Grain Pancakes (really.. always).
♥ The Ivy Locations on Robertson & in Santa Monica
Highlights: OMG, The Ivy is SUCH a CLASSIC. It just screams Los Angeles to me, and you have to make a stop for lunch while you’re in town ( I did a full post on this restaurant about a year ago here ). I’m partial to the location on Robertson, but I’m not opposed to the Santa Monica location if need be ( especially for Brunch before heading down to the Bungalow ). It’s a nice place to sit & people watch ( and maybe spot a few celebs too ) and sip a stellar cocktail amongst the perfect decor. My vote: opt for an outdoor table at the Robertson location.
Brunch/Lunch Faves: Get the Chips & Guac to start, the Ivy Gimlet, a Bellini, or their crazy Bloody Mary to sip, and snag something off of their specials menu for you meal…. it’s always loaded with fresh stuff ( I really like the Sea Bass w/ Butter, Lemon & Garlic woah ). For Dessert, the RED VELVET CAKE is to-die-for, and they give you a little box of the best cookies ever to go. If you’re a seasoned dessert pro, opt for the dessert sampler plate… it’s heaven.
Cecconis 8764 Melrose Avenue
Highlights: Cecconis NEVER dissapoints. Ever. It’s a swanky little West Hollywood dinner spot, and the bar is a nice place to hang on a Friday or Saturday night. They have a special 4-7pm happy hour menu that comes with good drinks & gourmet bites from $4-$7… I mean…. & there’s free valet during the day!
Brunch/Lunch Faves: The Ricotta Hotcakes ( with Blueberries ) & the granola are my favorites for breakfast and the pizza is yum-o.
Dinner Faves: If you go to Cecconis for the 4-7 menu ( aka dinner ), YOU MUST GET THE TRUFFLE BURGER. It is amazing, and it’s only $7. Personally, I like a huge spread for dinner, so my friends & I order the burger, meatballs, avocado & chickpea dip w/ crudites, the buffalo mozzarella pizzette, a side of fries, & some sauvignon blanc to sip. Unreal food for unreal prices… this place is a MUST!
Malibu Farm 23000 Pacific Coast Highway
Highlights: Malibu Farm is located at the very end of the Malibu Pier, and it is SUCH a sweet spot for weekend brunch. There’s a bit of a line of the weekends, but it goes pretty quickly, and is worth the measly 10-minute wait. As per usual in LA, the food is fresh, organic and local. Such a shock, I know.
Brunch Faves: The White Wine Thyme Nectarine Sangria and the Red Wine Strawberry Basil Sangria are baller-status for starters. If you want something healthy, I opt for the Yogurt/Granola/Berries. If you’re not to concerned about the calories, the Fried Egg Sandwich is sooooo delish.
Lunch/Dinner: One of my guy friends swears Malibu Farm has one of the best burgers he’s ever had… and he’s an intense, burger eating fiend so ya know it’s real.
♥ Gjelina 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Highlights: OMG. This is, by far, one of my favorite restaurants to go to ( & I’m not alone ). Definitely make a reservation, and keep your eyes open for some really cool peeps ( aka: Beyonce & Jay-Z are said to hang here ). It’s a cozy restaurant in a great location with amazing food. Get ready to feast.
Dinner Favorites: Start with a glass of wine, the meat & cheese boards, and the a glass of vino. As far as pizza goes, the Blanco and the Gruyere, Caramelized Onion, Fromage Blanc, & Arugula pizzas are my favorites. For small plates, get the Mushroom Toast for sure, and for Veggies, get the Broccolini ( SO GOOD ). I like eating tapas style here, so I’ve never gotten a Large Plate. For Dessert, you HAVE to get the Butterscotch Pot de Creme. Just trust me. It’s so incredible.
Cafés ( Coffee & Juice )
Blue Bottle Coffee Multiple Locations
Highlights: I fell in love with Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, where it all started. Blue Bottle has a few locations in LA ( namely in Venice & Downtown ) and I’m always looking for a reason to grab coffee here.
Coffee Faves: The NEW ORLEANS ICED COFFEE is life changing. Trust me.
♥ Bungalow 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
Highlights: OMG. I spent most Saturday/Sundays at Bungalow in Santa Monica BECAUSE I LOVE IT. The decor & vibe is PERFECT at this little spot right across the street from the beach, and the people are usually painfully beautiful. I like the Bungalow during the day on the weekends, because it gets really packed at night and the line can be ridiculously long. This is a MUST go if you’re in LA ( it’s almost annoyingly ‘trendy’… but it’s definitely worth seeing! ).
Drinks: Sangria or Sea Breeze Punch
Nobu Malibu 22706 Pacific Coast Highway
Highlights: Like I said when I mentioned Nobu in the ‘Restaurants’ category, the views here are SO beautiful. The last time I was at a Nobu (before Malibu) was in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and let me tell ya, this location’s vibe is just as good. It’s a little ‘scene-y,’ but it’s certainly something to check out once. If you can score a table on the deck for sunset, you’re golden. I definitely recommend Nobu for the daytime and early evening over the late-night dining scene.
Dranks: The Spicy Acai Martini is my favorite. The Cucumber & Pineapple Martinis are also ballin (but ask them to add a little jalapeno for extra spice). Also, snag a glass of Rosé if you’re a wine gal (the one from the South of France had me reminiscing on my Nice days).
HYDE Sunset 8117 Sunset Blvd
Highlights: Hyde is a really popular lounge with a really swanky setting & a pretty young crowd. It’s always a good time, especially if you can spring for a table with your friends, and it’s the best on weekend nights. If you’re looking for a more clubby atmosphere ( without being too clubby ), then you should definitely go to Hyde.
Health & Beauty
FaceHaus 8377 West 3rd Street
Highlights: I did a really informative interview with one of the estheticians at FaceHaus because I’m SO obssessed with this place! Every time I leave, I feel refreshed & relaxed. Its a trendy, quick little facial place (& they sell Eminence! Favorite). Not bad on price either. This is definitely a tourist-friendly place to stop and freshen up before or after a long day in LA (or before an event!).
Fav Facials: I really like the Haus Special (simple, straightforward) and I always add a $10 ‘blast’ to my bill. The Cool Blast is my favorite… its so… coool. They also have a $10 pimple-popping service (the Main Squeeze) for ‘unwanted visitors.’ No more f-ing up & messing with your own pimples, ladies.
Skin Laundry Multiple Locations
Highlights: Skin Laundry is a cute little skincare shop/spa with multiple locations in Los Angeles. They sell a full line of skincare products at Skin Laundry, my favorite being their Hydrating Sheet Masks ( you can also buy online! ). I was really happy with the facial I got here.
Facial Fav: Skin Laundry’s Laser & Light facial is physician-grade, and super quick. Before you start, you FaceTime with a physician to go over your skin issues & she approves you for the treatment. Then, the facial takes about 10-15 minutes, and its a series of lasers/lights and cooling products. This deep-cleansing style vaporizes dirt & bacteria, tightens and brightens skin, improves complexion, and ( when done in series ) evens skin tone, reduced sun damage and stops wrinkles in their tracks.
Activities / Things To Do
Highlights: If you want to spend some time hangin’ out in a more relaxed, quaint setting, you may want to drive out to Orange County for a weekend. Right now, my favorite spot is Laguna Beach, because I love the town & how quiet it is. You can see all of my Laguna faves in my recap on my weekend spent there. It’s definitely worth the trip!
Seasonal & Events
Los Angeles Dodgers Game 1000 Elysian Park Ave
Highlights: I’m a huge fan of baseball games ( my family is really intense about this sport in particular… we go to a game in most places that we visit ) so I LOVED hanging out at Dodger Stadium in the evenings. I recommend going a little early to avoid the insane traffic and grabbing a beer & a dodger dog ( or 3 ) to watch the game. Okay… I didn’t really watch that much but we still had a great time.
Twilight Concerts 200 Santa Monica Pier
Highlights: For about a month in the summer, the Santa Monica Pier hosts free concerts every Thursday evening. You can go up on the pier, eat, and grab a drink in the 21+ area, OR ( my favorite thing to do is ) get a group of friends, a blanket, some snacks and wine & find a spot to sit on the beach.
Helpful Resources & Links