Awesome place, over 300 days of sunshine a year and it just gets better and better as you get to know it more. And when the pilot says “we are now on our approach to LAX” you will nearly jizz your pants with excitement. You really need a car to get around, but you can taxi if you plan well or stay with a mate with a car.
Things to do
Make sure you play beach volleyball (you will feel like you are in Top Gun), watch some chumps workout at Venice beach and hang out at the skatepark. Walk along Abbot Kinney near Venice Beach for nice shops, bars, restaurants. Go to Santa Monica beach to mess around on the pull up bars, hoops and ropes and play on the pier. Go to Malibu to Paradise Cove to sit on double beds on the beach with a cocktail. See a Lakers game. Walk up Runyon Canyon to the Hollywood sign. Walk along Hollywood Boulevard to see the stars (for all of about 20 mins – it’s total tacky touristville). Visit the museum of modern art (MoMA). Shoot some fuck off guns at LA Gun Club and pretty much shit your pants. Visit the observatory. See a chat show being filmed (it’s easy to get tickets – we did The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and saw Charlie Sheen – we didn’t get in the day we got tickets for because we turned up quite late, but it worked out better cos then we got to pick the show we got guaranteed tickets for). Do some shopping on Rodeo Drive or N. Robertson Boulevard. If you have time visit the winelands (we stayed in Solvang about 2hrs out of LA), do an overnight in Palm Springs (it’s desert weather and there are some great pool parties – try Ace hotel or The Saguaro) and have a few hours at Joshua tree (for some pretty impressive giant rocks and walks – 45 mins from Palm Springs).
STK in West Hollywood (amazing steak and even better truffle and parmesan chips), Mess Hall (great all day food) in Los Feliz (my favourite area to hang out). Little Dom’s in Los Feliz is also meant to be great but we got bored waiting for a table when we went for a hangover lunch. Gjelina on Abbot Kinney Blvd for some amazing food wine and atmosphere. PF Changs in West Hollywood (it’s a chain, but does awesome Chinese). In n Out Burger (branches everywhere for great burger and chips that’s better than McD’s). Go to a diner, eat like a pig and play your own personal jukebox (we went to Mel’s Diner on Highland Avenue, ate til we felt sick and then realised the food was over-rated). The Ivy in West Hollywood is also meant to be good.
The Standard’s rooftop bar for a swanky night. Harvard and Stone for some live music, dancers, industrial poles and a real American feel – my favourite place we went to (a lot of fun most nights of the week). Chateau Marmont or Soho House (if you can get in to them) for some celeb spotting. Bar Marmont is shit, wouldn’t bother. Bungalow in Santa Monica is another place to be seen but it’s ruined a little by the fact there is about two toilets for the whole club. Shutters at Santa Monica to sit on the balcony with a gin and take in the view. Franklin and Co for a bit of a speakeasy and chatty bar staff (we went for two drinks and ended up hammered and staying all night because the measures were so big). Go to West Hollywood for some gay pubs and clubs (expect to see near naked men on podiums, lose the people you are with and nearly miss a flight to San Fran the next day).
A random night out if you go to the winelands is Maverick’s Saloon Bar in Santa Ynez – we went after my mates wedding and made friends with cowboys (by this I mean stole their hats), learnt to line dance (by this I mean tried to line dance to Rihanna) and discovered there are gay rednecks (by this I mean I got a winch).
Use Airbnb to get a nice place. Otherwise we just stayed in chains we could get good last minute rates for, Holiday Inn etc. All have free wifi and better rooms than a budget hotel in the UK. The W Hotel in LA if you can afford it.
Livability (4 out of 5)
Hot without the humidity and cool enough to wear your leather jacket at night. More soul, more culture and just more going on than Australia.