As an east coast girl who has spent most of her summers exploring the boroughs and hidden treasures of cities, I know the benefits and challenges of finding hidden gems in a tourist hub. This summer I tackled the west coast with a trip to visit my roommate in Los Angeles. I wanted to visit popular areas to indulge in all of the noteworthy spots, but also find areas that weren’t filled with eager tourists.
Following a long flight, my roommate and I stopped and got the necessary In-N-Out meal and blasted Weezer as we headed to Beverly Hills. Although Los Angeles is known for its more glamorous spots, it’s crucial to not overlook its array of museums and art displays. A pitstop on our drive was The Getty Center, a stunning world-class museum. Not only did the center hold great exhibits, but some of the most breathtaking views of Los Angeles all around their gardens.
If you’re open and attentive to look for unique art, you can find some hidden gems around the corner. As we drove through the streets of 90210, my roommate stumbled upon a Louis Vuitton pop up display. For a fashion fanatic, this display was a dream come true with gorgeous brand street art, coveted LV collections and a showroom of iconic red-carpet gowns.
On the west side of the city, there is a restaurant any fan of Bravo has to make the effort to see and a reservation to enjoy. Sur is the stunning drama-filled setting of the prime reality TV show, Vanderpump Rules, and a great dinner choice if you’re hoping to bump into the cast.
We started our morning in Hollywood with a great attempt to do the famous Hollywood hike that eventually leads you to the sign. This venture resulted in us exploring the surrounding suburbs, which resembled every beautiful Los Angeles pad that’s ever been depicted on TV. Once we reached the starting point, we soon realized that it was more than what we had prepared for. It’s important to note that although this hike is deemed easy online, it can still be an enduring exercise that may not be worth the Instagram moment.
After our attempt, we wondered the star-studded streets of Hollywood and dodged as much tourists’ groups as we could. Although the neighborhood didn’t meet my expectations, there are charming parts to Hollywood located amongst the outskirts of the tourist areas.
A trip to the beaches of Santa Monica was a nice change from day trips to South Beach over the summer. One of the benefits of California is the gorgeous weather as I found myself perfectly comfortable laying out all day without even realizing the hours spent in the sun.
The perks of choosing Santa Monica for a beach day is the fact that you are so close to other fun Los Angeles attractions. After hours on the beach, my roommate and I walked along the Santa Monica pier and witnessed all of the live music, rides and lively street performers. On our way out we stopped at 3rd Street Promenade to shop and stop for lunch at a popular recommendation, Lemonade. I highly recommend this lunch spot for its large variety of sweet lemonade options and healthy food portions.
Out of all the areas we explored in Los Angeles, Melrose was by far the area that left the biggest impression on me. Melrose Avenue is filled with amazing spots from prominent labels and restaurants to thrift shops and tiny café cafes. I highly recommend trying to visit the area on a Sunday to catch the Melrose Trading Post where vendors sell a variety of eclectic vintage pieces.
We then explored shops along the street and found ourselves stumbling upon famous art spots such as the Paul Smith pink wall. We even discovered an adorable cat café, Crumbs and Whiskers, where you can eat and play with the cutest selection of kittens up for adoption.
If you’re craving Italian food for dinner, then it is an absolute must to visit Jon & Vinny’s. This modern restaurant serves some of the most delicious pizza and pasta that I have ever had. It’s beneficial to make a reservation in advance since it is always packed but it is well worth the trip.
Within four days and several hours’ worth of traffic, I was able to see all that Los Angeles had to offer. Even though some famous attractions were more memorable than others, the small spots I happened to find were never a disappointment.
words & phoyo_makayla manning