People come to LA for a myriad of reasons, and for each one of those, there’s a corresponding guide to help you “see all the stars,” “carve the best waves,” or “eat at the best restaurants.” But there’s no one guide to help you uncover the LA you want to see but didn’t know existed – until now. Most of the city’s iconic landmarks are noticeably absent from this list so you can explore an entire landscape and lifestyle - the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the shredder surfer life, the trendy clubs, all to give you a complete feel for the City of Angels.
6 AM RUNYON CANYON
Since the mountains surround the edge of the West, there aren’t many spots to see an epic sunrise in Los Angeles. Walking up Runyon Canyon at dawn is both spooky and thrilling, and it’s an easy slope to the first Eastern trail. Standing as the sun peaks over the horizon bathing downtown LA in a sherbet glow is a not-to-miss sight. Stick around afterward to hike the remainder of Hollywood’s answer to Central Park. If you haven’t seen The Walk of Fame or the Chinese Theater, both are just a few blocks away and far less crowded in the early morning hours.
8 AM PATIO BREAKFAST
When you think of California, you probably think warm, fresh air so why not start the trip off right by enjoying the sunshine at the Farmer’s Market at The Grove? Not only is there a wide selection of brunch options, but it’s one of the few breakfast spots in LA that has outdoor seating that isn’t just on a sidewalk. For a full meal consider Marmalade Café, or for lighter fare, you can grab fresh pastries from the market.
10 AM LA BREA TAR PITS
Cruise down and see the oldest tourist attraction in the city, one of the most famous fossil sites in the world. Surrounded by a city park, this is a quick stop that is totally unique. While there, stroll over to the LACMA and snap some photos in front of their well-known exterior exhibits, “Urban Lights” and “Levitated Mass” – both of which are free to the public.
12 PM PHILIPPE THE ORIGINAL
If you’ve worked up an appetite, Philippe claims to have invented the French Dip 103 years ago, and what a glorious little sandwich it is. Try their signature dish with a hefty serving of spicy mustard - but remember to bring cash and expect long lines. If you have some time to kill, wander around Olvera Street, a Mexican marketplace directly across the way, before continuing on.
2 PM EXPLORE DOWNTOWN LA
Downtown LA is the greatest untapped entertainment center of Los Angeles that many locals haven’t even fully explored, opting instead for the more famous Sunset Strip or Hollywood Boulevard. Hidden gems include the Bradbury Building, The Last Bookstore, Angels Flight, and Little Tokyo (which has a self guided walking tour). However, if you haven’t been to DTLA before, make sure to pack in a view of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the exterior of the Los Angeles Public Library for prime photo ops.
6 PM DINNER AND A SHOW AT THE MAGIC CASTLE
This isn't your grandpa's cheesy, run of the mill card trick. One of the most elusive tickets to get in Hollywood is a pass to the Magic Castle, but dinner reservations ensure your entry into the world’s leading lair of modern secrets. While you have to be a magician to gain access to the library, guests are treated to a wide range of nightly shows from close-up performances to sit-down theatrics.
8 PM GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
Often cited as one of the best spots in LA, at night the entire city stretches out with lights blending into DTLA’s towers that disappear into the coast’s expansive sheet of black. The terraces and overlooks are our personal happy place in LA, but that doesn’t mean the Planetarium show is not top notch and highly recommended, as well. You should know ahead of time that you will probably leave believing in aliens.
9 AM DRIVE THE PCH
One of the best road trips in the US, driving “the 1” is a combination of white sandy beaches, surf waves, and TMZ Hollywood. As you pass mansion after mansion along the shore, make a mental note to stop at the Getty Villa if you have time – this is the must-see art and architecture museum.
You can try and pack them both in, but these two beaches are some of the best in LA and perfect for totally different reasons. World-famous Malibu is surprising quaint and unassuming to first time visitors, upscale without pretention, which, if you know what to expect, makes it all the more endearing. Stop here to visit the Country Mart, work on your tan, or if you’re up for it, rent a surfboard and paddle out.
Point Dume is a local favorite. Tucked under a massive cliff, it’s expansive stretch of sand runs for what seems like miles with barely anyone around. The hike down can be tricky, so if mobility is an issue, you may want to skip it, but if you are up for an easy climb, the area offers killer views of the shoreline.
12 PM NEPTUNE’S NET
Once you get over the fact that it’s a seafood biker bar, the food is well worth the offbeat ambiance. With two counters, one for fried foods and one for boiled; Neptune’s serves up all kinds of delicious seafood fixings, and, if you happen to be there on a windy day, cross the street to check out the kite surfers carving waves below the cliffs.
2 PM MALIBU WINERY
While Southern California grape growing regions lack the notoriety of Sonoma or Napa, that doesn’t mean their wines are any less flavorful. However, the real reason to stop here is the ambiance, elegant and refined like a Sunday Brunch at Gatsby’s. The drive takes you through the Malibu Mountains, which are a unique feature of SoCal, and the satellite parking lot is located next to a zebra farm for even more California quirkiness.
6 PM EXPLORE THE CANALS
VENICE, CA 90292
One of the coolest highlights of LA that many don’t even know exist, the Venice Canals date back to Abbot Kinney’s original Venice. A series of canal-lined sidewalks perfect for admiring the charming architecture, you can wander through them all in under an hour.
8 PM C&O TRATTORIA
A cozy, warm alternative to the trendy dining options dominating the rest of Venice Beach, enjoy Italian food served with a cool, open-air vibe and never ending garlic knots. Simply follow the little red footprints to the entry and you’ll know you’re in the right place. That’s amore.
WHERE TO STAY: THE ORLANDO
8384 W. 3RD ST. LOS ANGELES, CA 90048
A chic family-owned boutique hotel that’s centrally located near the Grove in West Hollywood, the Orlando will entice you with it’s killer rooftop pool and stylish rooms perfect for a fabulous LA getaway.