Doing Los Angeles like a local

Earlier this year, in April, I travelled to Los Angeles for the first time ever. I visited two friends who live there and who I met while interning at CoopHimmelb(l)au in Vienna. They are undoubtedly two of the coolest people I know, so, it wasn’t a surprise that I ended up enjoying a lot of iconic architecture, delicious food and loads of insider tips. If this piqued your interest, read further for a full list of tips and local favorites and to learn more about my trip .

A bit of advice before visiting Los Angeles

L.A. is a really big city. You need structure and a plan.
Naturally, if you travel that far, you want to see as much as possible. But, Los Angeles is huge. To avoid spending most of your time commuting from one area to the other, the best thing is to decide which neighbourhoods you want to visit, set up a structured plan and stick to exploring one area at a time. This way, you save time, energy and you actually get to see more!

You need to get around.
A lot of your time will inevitably be spent driving. I suggest to rent a car at the airport if you‘re more than one person (two words: carpool lane!) as it is very affordable and allows for the most flexibility. If you‘re on your own, then Uber will be your best friend. Of course, Uber is very cheap in the U.S. and is not comparable to European cabs. Plus, if you‘re not in a rush, you can UberPool and share the ride with up to two other passengers who are going in the same direction. It takes the fastest route for everybody which might not be so quick for you (alternative: your ride might end up being longer), but you get to save up, and it‘s a bit fun, too.

You need a mobile phone.
The first thing to do after arriving, is to head to the next T-Mobile Shop and get a SIM card for a local number and mobile data. The prepaid only costs around 40$ and takes 15min to set up. This way, you can check google maps while driving or comfortably order an Uber wherever you are. There are a lot of free WiFi possibilities, but it really helps having internet at all times. Trust me, this was a life savior.


Day 1 –

Getting the obvious out of the way

Heavenly hip lunch spot
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice

Coffee and sweets
1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice

For some light shopping
Little boutiques of Abbot Kinney
Between Rialto Ave and Westminster Ave

Follow the cactus path
From Abbot Kinney Blvd towards Rose Ave

Cafe Gratitude
Spiritual recharging
512 Rose Ave, Venice

Fashion and chill
2929 Main St, Santa Monica

Venice Boardwalk
People and palm tree watching
Ocean front walk, passing the Skate park and Muscle Beach

Venice Canals
There is no such thing as too much strolling
Head back and forth Dell Ave

Japanese coolness for dinner
1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd


Day 2 –
West Hollywood & Beverly Hills

Let’s see what all the fuss is about

Verve Coffee Roasters
Coffee first, always
8925 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood

Gracias Madre
Celebrity spotting and healthy bowls
8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood

The Apartment by The Line
Great retail concept – shop your dream house
8463 Melrose Pl 2nd floor

Melrose Place
Glorious window shopping
Between La Cienega Blvd and Melrose Ave

Driving around the Hills
Where the American Dream lives
From West Hollywood through Beverly Hills

Chateau Marmont
Afternoon break at this iconic place
8221 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

In-and-out Burger
Balance is everything – simply the best burger
7009 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory
Spotting the Hollywood sign at sunset
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles


Day 3 –
Palm Springs

Getting out of town

Easy roadside stop for lunch
622 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs

Desert X (closed)
Hunting for art

ACE Hotel
The all American hotel
701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs

Workshop Kitchen and Bar
Stylish dinner and drinks
800 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs


Day 4 –
Joshua Tree

Once to Mars and back

King's Highway at the ACE
All American breakfast & lunch
701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs

Hidden Valley Nature Trail
All about those Joshua trees
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Sushi Komasa
Back in town, dinner in Little Tokyo
351 E 2nd St, Los Angeles

Highland Park Bowl
Fantastic cocktails at this eccentric bar
5621 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles


Day 5 –

The full local experience

Yoga at the Raven
Spiritual fluff for breakfast
2910 Rowena Ave, Los Angeles

Broome St. General Store
Refueling with coffee
2912 Rowena Ave, Los Angeles

Silver Lake Reservoir
Pre-brunch hike

Little Pine
Heavenly vegan brunch
2870 Rowena Ave, Los Angeles

Mid-afternoon snack
1716 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Art Galleries
Gallery hopping in Culver City

2727 La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles

Bruce Lurie Gallery
2736 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles

Basically, the whole of S La Cienega Blvd is full of lovely, little galleries that you can walk in. Saturdays, most of them have vernissages that are open to attend for everybody. Check their websites to learn more.

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles

Night + Market Song
Favorite dinner experience
3322 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Cafe Stella
Relaxed atmosphere and good drinks
3932 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles


Day 6 –

Easy like sunday morning

Malibu Farm
Painfully popular, awesome view
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu

El Matador State Beach
A little hidden gem
32350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu

Drive back
While driving to Malibu the view from the Pacific Coast Highway is definitely a highlight. Hoewever, I’d suggest you enjoy the vastly different view on your way back taking the route through the hills. You might find some delicious mangos and avocado vendors on the way, too.

Silverlake Ramen
Low-key dinner
2927 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Magpies Softserve
Indulding desert
2660 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles


Day 7 –
Downtown LA

High-density everything

Last Book Store
Quirky place for books and more
453 S Spring St, Los Angeles

Bradbury Building
Visit first, google later
304 S Broadway, Los Angeles

Grand Central Market
Delicious food market to indulge for lunch
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles

Blue Bottle Coffee
No Wi-Fi, but decent coffee
300 S Broadway, Los Angeles,

Angels Flight Railway
Make sure to sit down and enjoy the ride
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles

MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art
Take your time to enjoy the art
250 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles

The Broad
Can’t say the facade is the highlight
221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall
The landmark that shouldn’t be missed
111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles


Day 8 –

Larger than life

Food Trucks
Light lunch option
Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Overwhelmingly spacious – bring a lot of time
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles


Day 9 –

Arts District

Immerse yourself in culture

Groundwork Coffee Co.
Relaxed start into the day
811 Traction Ave, Los Angeles

Experience the Arts District
E 3rd St, Los Angeles

Hauser & Wirth
One of the best galleries in town
901-909 E 3rd St, Los Angeles

Zinc Cafe & Market
Lovely lunch buffet and sunny yard
580 Mateo St, Los Angeles

Dover Street Market
Can’t call it a store, more of a fashion exhibition
608 Imperial St, Los Angeles

ICA LA – Institute of Contemporary Art
Modern and young
1717 E 7th St, Los Angeles

A new concept for retail and gastronomy
777 Alameda St, Los Angeles


Day 10 –
Culver City

You better know where you’re going

Highly likely Cafe
Morning coffee & quick bite
4310 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles

Baldwin Hills
Jogg the stairs up the hill, and stroll down the path
6300 Hetzler Rd, Culver City

Arcana: Books on the Arts
Fact: you’ve never seen more art books in your life
8675 Washington Blvd, Culver City

Eric Owen Moss Buildings
Ghost town turned into a mecca for architecture lovers
Hayden Tract – Between 8550 National Blvd and 8557 Higuera Street

Almost too pretty to eat
2JF9+RG Culver City


Day 11 –
Los Feliz

The relaxed side of LA

Delicious, cozy and just lovely
1620 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles

Hollyhock House
Not only for architecture geeks
Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles

Tacos Tu Madre
Little snack on the go
1824 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles

Maru Coffee
For an afternoon pick-me-up
1936 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles

No Vacancy
Theatrical entrance for casual drinks
1727 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles


Day 13 –
All over…

Sometimes, you just go with the flow

Cozy brunch
2100 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles

ArtCenter College of Design
Probably only interesting for geeky people
1700 Lida St, Pasadena

The Geffen Contemporary
Sometimes there are books, sometimes there is weird art
152 N Central Ave, Los Angeles


Here are a few places that were highly recommended by my hosts but that I didn’t manage to visit after all.

Drinks and Food

Venice Beach Wines
529 Rose Ave, Venice

907 E 3rd St, Los Angeles

Le Petit Marché
5665 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles,

320 Sunset Ave, Venice

Art and Culture

The Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles

Various Small Fires Gallery
812 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
1010 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles

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