By Brittany MacRae
Disclaimer: Los Angeles is HUGE. I have been fortunate enough to spend the last four years enjoying LA bliss. However, there is still a lot of LA that I have yet to see (ex: Hermosa Beach, LA Museum of Art, La Brea Tar Pits etc.) With this being said, I’ll happily provide tips and share some of my go-to faves, but I am by no means the “master of LA.”
What is LA in a nutshell? LA is the land of brunch, hiking and dogs. Yes, you read that correctly, dogs. Everyone has one.
Granville – Studio City
Granville offers a delicious, organic but highly indulgent (you gotta try the village French toast) brunch. It’s in the heart of Studio City, and a short walk away from an awesome shopping strip. Grab a bite then shop it off.
Blue Jam Cafe – Sherman Oaks OR West Hollywood
Blue Jam is notorious for having weekend morning line-ups, and it is WORTH the wait. Blue Jam is a perfect fit for any group because they split their menu into “All-Day Every Meal” and “Heath and Fitness,” so all needs are met. My friends and I always go to Blue Jam for their blueberry pancakes, they’re OUTTA THIS WORLD.
BLD – West Hollywood
BLD is another local-fave, and all you need to do is check out their brunch menu. http://www.bldrestaurant.com/pdfs/BLD_Brunch.pdf
Need I say more?
Runner ups: SunCafe Organic, The Hudson, Crave Café
Crossroads Kitchen – West Hollywood
Guys, I get so passionate about this restaurant because it’s so freaking good. Plus, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard frequent it, so it has to be good, right?!
This is a vegan restaurant, but wait, don’t scroll, there are no obvious vegan cues. In fact, most people don’t even make the connection because on the menu things are listed as usual. (Hint: try the meatball pizza, and kale caesar) I took my Italian friend here without mentioning that the restaurant was vegan, and he couldn’t get over how incredible the cheesy pasta was – this is a MUST TRY. If the food can fool an authentic Italian, it can likely fool you too. 😉
Firefly – Studio City
Firefly is a trendy (I’m serious, the door is inconspicuous and made of leaves), upscale restaurant with an epic drink list. If you’re willing to get dressed up and spend a little more on your meal, you won’t be disappointed.
Runner ups: Café Gratitude, Sugar Fish (sushi), Genwa Korean BBQ
SNACKS + SWEETS
Go Greek Yogurt – Beverly Hills
If you decide to trek into Beverly Hills or find yourself walking down Rodeo Drive you MUST stop at Go Greek Yogurt. They have self-serve frozen Greek yogurt and fresh Greek yogurt made with traditional ingredients. The owners are both from Greece and you’ll see that this is reflected in the taste of the yogurt.
Pressed Juicery – Glendale @ The Americana
Craving a fresh juice? Or hoping for something sweet? The Glendale Pressed Juicery is the only location where they serve juice and healthy frozen yogurt (made from dates, bananas etc.) With 5 different flavours and multiple healthy toppings, this is my favorite guilt-free dessert.
Remember how I mentioned LA folks love dogs? Here’s where you’ll see ‘em all. LA newbies will be told to hike Runyon Canyon but it’s almost always packed with the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood crowds. I recommend the following:
Fryman can be a bit crowded, but it’s way less crowded than Runyon. This is my go-to hiking location, I’m here almost everyday.
Will Rodgers State Park
W.R.S.P is located in the Pacific Palisades, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Los Angeles. If you want a full 360 view of LA – this is your spot.
Take a stroll down Melrose Ave – West Hollywood
Melrose Ave is like the Queen West of Toronto, or Bushwick of NYC. It has everything hip and trendy, and hosts tons of vintage hot spots. Looking for something dressy? Check out: Decades, TenOverSix or Creatures of Comfort. Get your style from street cues? Check out: Wasteland, Joyrich or Posers.
Shop among hippies and cyclists on Abbott Kinney – Venice Beach
Abbott Kinney not only has amazing restaurants (check out: Café Gratitude) but also has innovative and independently owned shops. If you’re looking for a cute boho outfit, or want to check out some awesome boutiques? Don’t miss Abbott Kinney. Insider tip: After you’re done checking out these shops, walk a few blocks south to the beach to experience the famous/grungy Venice beach boardwalk.
– Rent a car and drive to Laguna Beach (1.5HR out of LA)
– Check out Malibu and stay for a sunset
– Do In&Out Burger ONCE (get your burger protein style + fries animal style)
– Go to a lookout point on Mulholland Drive
– Go to “The Abbey” for an epic gay-lounge experience
– Head to “Laurel Hardware” for great cocktails and nightlife
– Sing your heart out in ‘Little Tokoyo’ at “Max Karaoke Studio”
– Go to Beachwood Canyon for a great view of the Hollywood sign
– See an improv/comedy show at Hollywood Improv
BEST NEIGHBORHOODS FOR ACCOMODATION:
(in no particular order)
– West Hollywood
– Studio City
– Beverly Hills
– Sherman Oaks
– North Hollywood
– Santa Monica (is great, but far out from everything!)
LA is quick paced and exciting, so get outside your comfort zone and begin exploring! Please leave me a comment below if you end up trying out some of these spots, or if you have favorites of your own!