The first time I went to Los Angeles I was 12 and I went to visit a friend that had moved there from Boston. I flew out there during my midwinter break – leaving behind the snow of Boston and landing in the eternal Spring of LA.
I thought my parents were completely crazy not to move there at that very moment. I could have my bags packed in no time! Yes, I would have missed my family and friends, but I plotted how I could arrange for loved ones to visit me in California and all would be perfect–a revolving door of house guests (a fun flop house if you will). The icing on the cake was the moment I swam in my friend’s pool and looked down a cliff to see a neighbor packing up the car to go skiing! Big Bear was only a few hours away! Oh how I wanted to move to LA; Sun, skiing, surfing–you name it and it’s there! My parents thought I was crazy and convinced me that all of California would be in the Pacific one day after some terrible earthquake, and that I would miss my East Coast roots–summers on Martha’s Vineyard, skiing the icy mountains of the North East, etc. So, I continued on my merry way shoveling snow and bundling up for winter. Nonetheless, to this very day, I still can’t stand winter. I can bare it until December, but when the New Year arrives and there are three or sometimes four months of cold, snow, and sleet, I shiver and longingly look back to that first trip to LA. Lucky for me, I now get to spend a few weeks each winter in LA – a home away from home if you will. I’m determined to have a snow bird bi-coastal life and consider it a work in progress.
When I’m in LA, I explore as much as possible. I love to go for long drives and poke around the neighborhoods in which I someday would like to live. I have a ritual of driving to the Pacific Ocean on each trip, and put at least one toe in the water–although the Pacific is always colder than any of my New England beaches.
I’ve outlined some of my favorite LA spots and hope they come in handy for you.
1. Joan’s On Third is my outpost in LA. Honestly, I’m there for breakfast or lunch almost everyday. Joan makes the most delicious food and I constantly crave it. For breakfast, I love the banana french toast and homemade pop tarts. Lunch is the rosemary maple glazed chicken breast with a Brussels sprouts salad for lunch. There are loads of amazing take out dishes and there are cafe tables both inside and out for eating –LOVE JOAN’S ON THIRD, we need one in NYC!!!! 8350 West 3rd Street, LA, CA http://www.joansonthird.com
2. Lemonade is delicious for quick and easy lunch. There are several outposts with many great menu items. It is a cool cafeteria style process where one chooses options and they are packed onto your plate. 9001 Beverly Blvd, LA http://lemonadela.com/location/beverly
3. Soho House is private, but you can either become a member or go as a member’s guest! The rooftop restaurant is gorgeous and it is packed all day and all night. The views are sensational and it is surprisingly comfy and relaxed. Soho House West Hollywood, 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA http://www.sohohousewh.com
1. The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower hotel is my absolute favorite restaurant in LA. The food is delicious, the room is perfectly candle lit and I always bump into friends. There’s a 1930s vibe with live music and it feels as if Cary Grant, Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe could all come strolling in at any moment. I always have chilled oysters and they have the best omelet with creme fraiche and caviar – and everyone loves the burger. They recently added an ice cream sundae menu where guests check off the flavors and toppings, etc–yummy! Tower Bar, 8358 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA http://sunsettowerhotel.com/at-the-tower-bar
2. Cipriani at Mr. C Beverly Hills is as great as Harry Cipriani in New York or Harry’s Bar in Venice. I have been a big fan of Cipriani for years and always love my lunches and dinners at the New York restaurants. A new Cipriani in LA is the icing on thecake! I always start with the baked tagliolini and then the chicken curry. The Bellinis are a must! The ambiance is beautiful and has the same burled wood and cozy seats as both NYC and Venice. 1224 Beverwil Dr, Los Angeles, CA http://www.mrchotels.com/beverly-hills/beverly-hills-restaurant.php
3. The Tasting Kitchen is my latest find. Yum, yum, yum. The roasted chicken is perfect and I know roasted chicken doesn’t seem to difficult, but trust me I love roasted chicken and it is hard to find the perfect preparation. The mussels are a close second–so delicious. Chef Casey Lane takes simple food to a new level, and that is a compliment. The only thing basic here are the names of the dishes, and I love simple food cooked to perfection. 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA http://thetastingkitchen.com/index.html
4. Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica reminds me of my Mom’s home cooked Italian food. The ravioli appetizer is perfecto and they prepare outstanding fresh fish dishes. I adore the butterscotch caramel pudding for dessert. 141 West Channel Road, Santa Monica, CA http://www.giorgiobaldi.us/about.htm
5. Nobu Malibu is on the sand in Malibu. The waves crash just feet from your table. The architecture of the restaurant is gorgeous and the food is Nobu–sublime Japanese! 22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA http://www.noburestaurants.com/malibu/experience/introduction/
1. The Getty Museum is spectacular and the views are as great as the artwork. http://www.getty.edu/index.html
2. The Griffith Observatory is also spectacular and free. Try to go at night and check out the stars… the ones in the sky! http://www.griffithobs.org
3. The Pacific Coast Highway is just at the end of Sunset Boulevard–literally the end. It is worth driving to the beach on your first trip to LA. The Pacific is awesome and I think everyone should put a toe in the water. If time permits, drive to Malibu and see what all the hype is about. It is truly a place where billionaires and surfers intermingle in harmony.
4. You can get close to The Hollywood sign by car. There are restrictions, but I was surprised how close one can get–check it out…I did a bit of research on Mapquest.
5. Runyon Canyon is a beautiful spot for a “hike.” It’s more of a walk up a steep hill than a hike, but the views are great and it is a pretty nice place to be at one with nature in the heart of LA.
6. LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of Art) is a very cool and hip museum. Don’t think snoozy European style museum, but cutting edge! http://www.lacma.org
7. The Hollywood Bowl opened in the 1920s and is still one of the coolest places to see a performance. Check out their website before your trip and who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and one of your favorites will be performing: http://www.hollywoodbowl.com
8. The shopping in LA is great and easy! Most stores have valet parking and the natural start is Rodeo Drive, but don’t underestimate how many shopping spots there are in LA. Starting on Rodeo Drive is smart and a must see even for those that hate shopping. It is quintessential Beverly Hills–there are stereotypes for a reason! I love Melrose for shopping and also have found cool stores in the coastal towns. Keep in mind that shopping in LA from one area to the next takes driving time and there is always some of that famousLA traffic, so just add in a bit of time. I found this link – it has a bit of everything for shopping and is a perfect tool to develop your shopping strategy; http://www.luxurylink.com/fivestar/los-Angeles/itineraries/7638930-shopping-hotspots-in-los-angeles
Enjoy LALA land!