The Spare Room
- Cocktail Bar
By now, it’s no secret that Los Angeles is booming. No longer just a Hollywood town, the sprawling metropolis has outgrown its stereotype as a superficial city, and is now considered to be one of the most exciting and desirable places in the United States—both to live and to visit. For years, creative types have been drawn to L.A. for its laid-back lifestyle, open spaces, and inspiring scenery, and 2015’s opening of The Broad—philanthropist Eli Broad’s contemporary art museum—solidified L.A.’s designation as one of the most important cultural destinations in the world. Add to that a bustling restaurant scene, world-class shopping, an ever-growing number of new and renovated hotel options, and, with the 2016 return of the Rams, a professional football team, and there are more reasons to visit Los Angeles than ever before. The city’s even found a way to avoid its infamous traffic—the Expo Line, a light rail that travels from downtown to Santa Monica in approximately 46 minutes. From the east side of Silver Lake through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to the coastal enclaves of Venice and Malibu, we share where to go, what to see, and how to get behind the velvet ropes in this singular city.
With ideal weather year-round, any season is a great time to travel to Los Angeles. Avoid the summer crowds by visiting in the late spring (April, May) or early fall (September, October), when the temperatures are still warm, the humidity low and the days long. If possible, avoid “June Gloom,” a nickname for the southern California weather pattern that can cause cloudy, overcast skies and cooler temperatures, especially by the coast.
Los Angeles International Airport, located in Southwestern Los Angeles, along the Pacific Ocean, is the largest and busiest in L.A. County, and the biggest international travel hub on the U.S. West Coast. An American Express Centurion Lounge is planned to open between Terminals 6 and 7. The Burbank Bob Hope Airport is a much smaller airport that services Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley, but is actually significantly closer to Hollywood and the eastside of L.A. than LAX. It is also the only airport with direct rail connection to downtown. This can be a particularly good option for travel to and from cities in the western United States, as well as New York City via daily red-eye flights on Jet Blue. Private air travel is best operated through Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley, or Santa Monica Airport, for service to the westside.
Los Angeles is still a driving city, and the best bet is to rent a car during your stay. However, Uber is now readily available, with low wait times and experienced drivers, especially if using Black or SUV options. The L.A. Metro has also recently upgraded and extended its Expo Line, a light rail that travels 15.2 miles from downtown to the Santa Monica Pier in approximately 46 minutes—even during L.A.’s infamous rush hour. It won’t take you everywhere in the city, but with clean trains and easy navigation, it’s worth trying if you happen to be traveling on that route (the tracks run down Exposition Blvd, parallel to the Santa Monica Freeway, with stops in Mid City, Culver City and throughout the west side along the way).
1. Stopping at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a famous McCarthy Salad at the Polo Lounge. (9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-276-2251; dorchestercollection.com)
2. Taking a scenic sunset stroll along the coastal bluffs of Palisades Park, which runs parallel to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
3. Visiting one of the city’s local farmers markets, which pop up on different days of the week throughout Los Angeles—from the original at Third & Fairfax, next to The Grove, to Melrose Place to Brentwood, and everywhere in between.
Despite the camera-toting tourists and flashy cars, there is still something exhilaratingly L.A. about walking down Rodeo Drive. Impressive renovations of top luxury flagships—such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co.—as well as recent arrivals of brands like Balenciaga, Carolina Herrera, and Saint Laurent make shopping on this iconic street more au courant than ever before.
If Los Angeles didn't invent the chopped salad, then it certainly perfected it, and there's no better version than the one at La Scala. Go for lunch and order the original with salami. (434 N. Canon Dr.; 310-275-0579; lascalabeverlyhills.com)
These days, Los Angeles is all about juices and smoothies. Great options can be found at Beaming, an organic superfood café with locations throughout the city.
WINTER: Winter means one thing in Los Angeles: Awards Season. After the holidays, the city is bustling with star-studded events that span from the Golden Globes in early January until the Oscars, held at the very end of February or beginning of March. If you are unable to access the action behind the velvet ropes, awards season also attracts a number of pop-up shops, special menus, and spa and hotel packages, making this an especially exciting time to visit.
SPRING: Spring in Los Angeles already offers summer weather, without the crowds. It’s a perfect time to head to Pasadena’s legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market, which takes place on the grounds of the stadium on the second Sunday of each month. Be sure to arrive early to avoids lines and assure prime picks from the over 2,500 vendors displaying vintage clothing, rare antiques, and other quirky finds—for the truly dedicated, VIP admission is offered from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. (323 Rose Bowl Dr.; 323-560-7469; rgcshows.com)
SUMMER: Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway for a beach day in Malibu. Zuma Beach (30000 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-457-2009; zuma-beach.com) is famous surfing spot that’s easily accessible and very family-friendly, while adventure-seekers may choose to trek down the steep winding staircase to the private bluff of Point Dume (Cliffside Dr.; 310-457-8143; parks.ca.gov).
FALL: In 2016, the NFL made its hugely anticipated return to Los Angeles with the arrival of the Rams. Check out a game during the must-see first season at their temporary home, the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in downtown L.A. A new 70,000-seat stadium—billed as the most expensive in the world—is scheduled to open in Inglewood by the start of the 2019 season. (3911 S. Figueroa St.; lacoliseum.com)