Last week I got to take a little business + leisure trip to Los Angeles. Believe it or not, I’ve never explored the city of LA before! I’ve been to the airport a few times… but that doesn’t really count.
I heard mixed reactions about Los Angeles. Some people didn’t like the vibe, while others commented on how awful the traffic is. So, I went on the trip with low expectations. And thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised!
I loved LA. So much so, I started to question if I could see myself living there at some point in time. Perhaps it was because of my location: I spent most of my time around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. But in general, I found that I loved the energy of the city. I’m into the old “classic Hollywood”, so it was fun for me to be in a city that was full of so many stories from that time. Plus, just the off chance that you could be walking around and see a celebrity IRL just strolling by. That was kind of fun, too!
The other thing that I really enjoyed: How green and manicured everything is. We don’t get that kind of green in Northern California, except for a small period of time after a lot of rain. So it was fun to drive around, turn down an unassuming street, and find that you’re driving on a street full of beautiful mansions. It seemed like every street was like that, which makes sense for the neighborhoods that I was in.
Speaking of neighborhoods, I did a little exploring while I was in town, and I wanted to share some things to do in Los Angeles. My LA guide is perfect for someone looking for ideas on what to do over a weekend and/or things to do that don’t cost a lot of money.
Things To Do in Los Angeles
First things first, make sure you rent a car! Los Angeles is a bring, sprawling city with a lot of cool little coastal towns that are fun to check out as well. I was surprised by how cheap it was to rent a car. I rented through Kayak and spent just around $40 for an entire day!
Coastal Towns To Check Out: Drive out to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. I didn’t have a ton of time to spend in each city, unfortunately, but I did grab a coffee and walk around the beautiful Venice canals.
And then I walked over to the Venice Beach sign and out to the beach itself. I would have loved to explore the little city a bit more though. It would have been nice to stop and grab brunch and enjoy the scenery a bit more.
Santa Monica was also a quick drive-through. But I did pull over for a bit and walked down its beautiful promenade walkway that’s above the beach. Think palm trees, beach, and sprawling ocean views.
The J. Paul Getty Museum: Take a few hours to explore the beautiful architecture, exhibits, and sculpture gardens at the Getty Museum.
I was particularly drawn to the architecture. I found the curvatures of the stark white buildings against the blue sky to be quite lovely.
And one of the favorite exhibits was the one that held a painting by Van Gogh. I could spend days in a museum, getting up close and personal with the brushstrokes.
And if paintings are not your thing, head out to the sculpture garden. I was kind of bummed when I went – They were doing maintenance on the central garden, so there was no water running into the pool, but it looks something like this. How pretty is that!
Places To Stay in Los Angeles
One of my first go-to’s when looking for places to stay in a new city is Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up yet, use my credit to get $40 off your first stay!
So, I did stay at a lovely little cottage on my last night in Los Angeles. However, my favorite stay was my one night (on Valentine’s Day!) at Petit Ermitage.
I stumbled on it after doing some research for hotels on the HotelTonight app. After looking into it a bit more, I decided to book a room for a night. It’s a little boutique hotel tucked into the hilly neighborhood of West Hollywood. And that’s all I was really expecting.
But while I’m there, I find out that it’s actually a popular spot for celebs to hang out because it’s still a place that’s under the radar. So, I’m not sure if anyone of high-profile status was there during my stay, but there were definitely some very beautiful people hanging out by the pool. Which is a warm saltwater pool, by the way.
From the pool deck, there’s also a lower deck where guests can hang out down by a fireplace, complete with couches, cabanas, chairs, and cozy blankets. In the mornings, they move the furniture to make room for a little yoga session.
If that’s not lovely enough, my favorite spot was actually the little bar and rooftop garden patio where guests can enjoy brunch, lunch, and dinner under the cover of cabanas.
I was there on Valentine’s Day so you can imagine how lovely it was at night, with candles and twinkling lights putting a little sparkle in your eye. 😉
I didn’t have a handsome date, so I spent a few hours at the bar, and had such a nice time chatting with other guests and the bar staff while enjoying a few cocktails. So it ended up being a lovely night anyway.
I mean, the picture below says it all.
As far as the rooms: I’d describe them as a rustic Bohemium vibe. Mine included a feather-soft bed, a fireplace and seating area, and a small balcony. It was cozy and quiet, which was much-needed after I turned in for the night. The room service was incredible as well.
That’s all to say: I’d definitely check out their availability the next time I’m in town. If you’re interested in booking, you can do so here.
Places To Eat While in Los Angeles
I didn’t get to explore the LA food scene too much, but I did stop at the Commissary at The LINE Hotel. It’s definitely a popular Insta spot, but I stopped by because I was conveniently at a work event at the hotel that day.
Essentially, you’re eating in a greenhouse. How cool is that?
P.S., the LINE Hotel would be a cool spot to spend a night, too!
UPDATE: Check out Madeo Ristorante in Beverly Hills for amazing Italian food. We ordered a few plates and shared them, which is a perfect way to try a few things (because everything looked so good!).
Otherwise, other recommendations that I received are:
- Going for the Pink’s Hot Dogs and/or Rosco’s Chicken + Waffles experience.
- Stopping for a drink at celeb hangouts like Chateau Marmont, SUR Restaurant, or The Ivy.
- For an Insta-worthy experience, go to Catch LA in the evening.
- The Butcher’s Daughter (or just walk along Abbot Kinney Blvd) in Venice Beach.
- Grab a drink or lunch a Lobster or Shutters on the Beach at the Santa Monica Pier.
- And as I mentioned before, the Garden Rooftop at the Petit Ermitage.
Other Things To Add To Your List
My trip was so short, and as you can imagine, I had so much stuff on my list that I didn’t have the time to do. But, there’s always next time, right?
In that case, here are more things to do in Los Angeles:
- From Venice Beach and Santa Monica, keep driving down the coast to Malibu. Just to say you’ve been there! But also because it’s beautiful.
- Explore Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach or Ocean Avenue (and the pier) in Santa Monica. Or, rent a bike and ride along the beachfront pathway instead.
- Spend a few hours exploring the Griffith Observatory and park. I really wanted to do this, but my day was already so jam-packed.
- Do the super touristy stuff like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater, and Dolby/Kodak Theater. Whew!
- Window shop on Rodeo Drive (such a lovely area), or head to Robertson Blvd for real shopping.
- Maybe this is a little creepy, but I kind of think the Hollywood Forever Cemetary would be cool to check out. No?
UPDATE: Head to Sassafras Saloon for a cocktail and live music in the evening. It’s a fun bar and lounge with an Old West theme.
Wow! That was a lot! And it’s funny, too, because I felt like it was a whirlwind trip and I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted, but I still had such a great time. I did a lot of planning, as you can tell, so I guess I’ll just have to keep all of these things on my list for next time. But in the meantime, I hope this Los Angeles city guide was helpful to you!
There really is something magical about La La Land.
Let’s go places,
What’s your favorite Los Angeles point of interest? Share it in the comment section below. Or if you go to one of my recs, tag your pic with #letsgoplaceswithsarah on Instagram!
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I have collaborated with Petit Ermitage for this post, but all opinions are mine.
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