There are about a million things to do in Los Angeles, so narrowing down activities, restaurants and where to stay can be a challenge. In prep for a quick weekend getaway to LA with one of my best friends, I did a lot of research on places to go, eat and stay. You could design your LA trip in many different ways: a foodie adventure, hiking and outdoor excursion, hipster pool party, beach living, museums and culture, amusement parks and rides, and so much more. For this trip, my friend and I wanted the following: A fun, historical yet modern place to stay, a great pool, access to fun outdoor eating to soak up the sun, great views and good wine and cocktails. [NOTE: this is NOT a family friendly itinerary – this is a great couples, or girlfriend getaway list).
What’s to love about LA? The weather is fantastic, there is endless things to do.
What’s not to love about LA? The traffic, it just stinks, there’s no getting around it. Also, LA tends to be very focused on appearances and style. While great for people-watching, sometimes the hipster/ everyone-Instagramming-themselves vibe is a little over the top.
My friend was at a conference so I had some time to kill before I picked her up. I have always wanted to go Los Angeles’ modern art museum, LACMA (see my post about modern art museums to visit) and so on a warm Saturday morning I spent about 2 hours wandering around the vast grounds. I was not disappointed – it was fantastic. The LACMA is the biggest modern/contemporary museum on the West Coast with exhibits both inside and outside of buildings. They had a special Picasso and Diego Rivera exhibit that I paid a little extra to see. It was worthwhile. COST: $15 for adult admission (without the extra fee for the Picasso exhibit)
A giant Matisse with inlaid ceramic made me all kinds of happy,
The Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera exhibit was amazing, the two contemporary’s art side by side with historical context was fascinating.
The Korean art section was stunning – I loved Young Il Ahn’s exhibit (only until Oct. 2017) “Unexpected Light”
STAY: THE ROOSEVELT HOTEL HOLLYWOOD
Overall the Roosevelt Hollywood hotel was fantastic. I had some hesitation when we first arrived and went to the pool (first thought, “wow, its a frat party!”) – but the recently renovated hotel (one of LA’s oldest and most famous) was great. Rooms were small but modern, clean and quiet. (I was totally surprised about the quiet). Its a great location if you want to see the sights of Hollywood, hike up to the Hollywood sign and see other West LA sights. The David Hockney painted pool is perfection in the calm of the morning. As the day wears on, it becomes quite a scene as Instagramming hipsters lounge on the terrycloth chairs and sip cocktails. There are several great restaurants and we enjoyed eating breakfast at the pool. For more history about the hotel (which is totally fascinating – read this.) Note: While great for a girlfriend getaway, or for couples looking to relax and have fun, this hotel and pool is not very family friendly.
EAT & DRINK: LAUREL HARDWARE and MELROSE UMBRELLA CO.
Laurel Hardware was such a great choice. The West LA restaurant used to be a hardware store and they kept the sign on the front, which totally confused my friend who was with me when we stepped out of our Uber. As we made our way through the dark wood bar/restaurant that has long tables as well as booths, we went outside and loved the atmosphere. Olive trees strung with lights, carrara Marble bistro tables with pretty white rose bouquets were the perfect setting for a long, tasting-menu style dinner. My friend and I caught up for two hours while we sipped wine, nibbled on Brussels sprouts and tuna tartare. We ended the meal with a tri-color salad and the mushroom pizza — all were fantastic. The warm evening air under the lights made us feel like we were truly on vacation. Yes, as reviewers on Yelp noted, our servers were definitely aspiring models and actresses, which also added to the whole LA experience. I hope they make it!
Melrose Umbrella Company was our final stop of the night. A friend gave me the recommendation for the craft cocktail location and it didn’t disappoint. (I’m made I didn’t get a photo of it!) but we both had a Mescal cocktail that was slightly spicy, they lit a piece of rosemary on fire and put it on top of the drink giving it a smoky flavor. After some initial panic/confusion (“what do I do? Do I blow it out!?”) I blew out the fire and enjoyed the drink. The bar has beautiful old wood and the bartenders are definitely masters of their craft. I am not a big cocktail drinker but I loved this place.
SIP & SEE: MALIBU WINES
After a quick workout in the hotel gym and then spending the morning poolside at the David Hockney pool, we packed up and drove the 45 minutes to Malibu Wines. Several friends recommended it as a fun place to see and have wine. We drove up the 101 and headed into the Malibu Mountains, in all the springtime Southern California glory. When you get to the winery, you are directed to park in a giant lot and take a shuttle. The sea of cars reminded us that yes, we were once again still in LA. (SO many people). Walking around the winery was really fun, they have a bunch of different options for seating and reserving special places to sit. For example, they have an old schoolbus that someone was having a bridal shower in. Tables are reserve only (for a fee $$) and there was some great live music. For the tightwad, or the unprepared (us!) there is a lawn you can sit on for free. Lots of people spread out blankets with picnic baskets. We both did a tasting of Malibu’s “Light” wines: Rose, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose Brut and a more classic Brut. The wine was decent, but clearly it was the location that people came for. There was also a (genius) person who set up a fresh custom-made flower crown booth. The result was tables of giggling 20-somethings with fresh flower crowns taking turns taking photos of each other. I admit, I wanted one too. While it was definitely somewhat of a scene, it was really fun. I would definitely go back. NOTE: Parents this is not a very family friendly location. I didn’t see one child and they carded everyone to get in. After the winery, we headed down the 1 all the way to Santa Monica and grabbed a quick salad before I had to drop my friend off at LAX. In retrospect, we definitely accomplished our goals, and more.