The L.A. City Guide

Whether we’re Laguna Beach babies, L.A. natives, or transplants from other cities across the U.S., all of us ladies of Team LC have one thing in common: we’re California girls at heart. So today we wanted to share a few of our favorite spots in the city we now call home, Los Angeles. We’ve received so many requests for an L.A. city guide, so we decided to put our heads together and share a few of our favorite L.A. eateries, places to shop, nail salons, and more.

Read on for the Team LC guide to L.A., and then stay tuned for a very special giveaway to go along with it…

1. Shopping

  • The Grove. With its quaint trolley, dancing fountain, and adjacent farmers market, the Grove is a mid-city shopping and casual dining staple.
  • Third Street Promenade. We’re not going to lie, the Promenade is almost always crowded and parking can be a nightmare. But, it’s just steps from the beach in gorgeous Santa Monica, and has every chain store you can dream of along it’s 4-block open-air stretch.
  • Westfield Topanga Mall. It’s out of the way for sure, but this mall of all malls might actually be worth a trip to the valley.
  • Abbot Kinney. Located in Venice Beach, Abbott Kinney Boulevard is an adorable shopping strip lined with cute boutiques. Be sure to stop by Urbanic Paper Shop, Steven Alan, and Heist while you’re there.

2. Farmer’s Markets

  • Santa Monica and Hollywood Farmers Markets. It’s no secret that Team LC loves the farmers market. These two farmers markets each span several city blocks and are the spots where L.A.’s professional chefs get their farm fresh produce each week. Enjoy the atmosphere and wide selection of prepared food, perfect for a picnic lunch. You might just see baby goat at the goat cheese stand!

3. Flea Markets

  • Rose Bowl Flea Market. Taking place the second Sunday of each month, the Rose Bowl flea is the place to find vintage furniture, antiques, and fashion. Get there bright and early (like 7am early) for the best finds, and be prepared to spend several hours sorting through the booths.
  • Melrose Trading Post. The Melrose Trading Post happens every Sunday and is like a mini version of the Rose Bowl Flea—not as wide of a selection, but much more manageable and generally less expensive.

4. Upscale Dining

  • Gjelina. If you’ve never dined on Abbot Kinney, Gjelina should be your first stop. The atmosphere is a combination of rustic, hipster and chic, but the food it the definitely the main event. Start with the mushroom toast with crème fraiche and truffle oil, and end your meal with the fennel salami pizza. The crust is to die for.
  • Drago Centro. For a fancy date night or a special occasion, try downtown’s Drago Centro. This restaurant knows how to do upscale Italian dining. Just try their truffle specials for proof.
  • JiRaffe. This intimate French bistro is blocks away from the busy Third Street Promenade, but cozy and quiet in contrast. Each table is served complementary mushroom foam to start off the meal, and from there you can order fresh fish or a juicy steak. This restaurant is perfect for having great conversation with good food and dim candlelight.
  • Ink. While it might have a trendy, one-word name, this West Hollywood restaurant sets the standard high. Top Chef Michael Voltaggio runs the show and creates unusual dishes like lollipop kale and egg yolk gnocchi. This one’s for you, adventurous foodies.
  • L&E Oyster Bar. With its lively atmosphere and patio bar, this chic, dim-lit spot is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and a few oysters on the half-shell.

5. Casual Dining

  • Lemonade. Lemonade is just about the cutest place to grab a quick bite in L.A. Think gourmet school cafeteria meets kitschy lemonade stand. The food is fast, but it’s also seasonal, wholesome, and light.
  • Huckleberry. Headed to the Westside for brunch? Snag a table at Huckleberry and peruse their dozens of baked goods while waiting to order at the counter. They use fresh produce from local farmer’s markets and free range meat in their dishes, so everything on the menu is just as good for you as it tastes. Don’t forget to grab a few salted caramel cookies to-go on your way out.
  • Malo. This Silverlake spot is a fun place to go for margaritas and Mexican cuisine inspired by L.A. street food. It sounds a little strange, but trust us when we say you have to try the Ground Beef & Pickle Taco (available in a vegetarian version too). It’s delish!
  • Joan’s On Third. This adorable breakfast and lunch joint has a fun market feel and is located in the hub of West Hollywood. The short rib sandwich is a popular favorite, and their assortment of cupcakes and baked goods will end your meal on a sweet note.
  • Blue Plate Taco. If you get a table on the patio, you can look out at the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean while eating lobster tacos. When the ocean breeze picks up in the winter. Blue Plate provides woven Mexican blankets for their guests to bundle up in. Drinking one of the passion fruit margaritas will warm you right up, too.

6. Creative Cocktails

  • Laurel Hardware. Laurel Hardware’s seasonal, shared-plate cuisine is only matched by its cocktail menu. It’s a great spot to spend happy hour, dinner, or have a late night sip.
  • The Bungalow. Located next door to Blue Plate Taco, this Santa Monica hotspot has a beachy vibe and cool cocktails to match. Our recommendation? The seaside punch with a side of chips and guac. It’s busy every night of the week, so come early if you want to find yourself a spot on one of the outdoor couches under the colorful twinkle lights. Added bonus: Front row view of the Santa Monica pier.
  • The Roosevelt Hotel. Home to five different bars, the Roosevelt Hotel has something for everyone. Whether you want to lounge poolside at the Tropicana, do some vintage bowling and drinking at the Spare Room, spot a celeb at Teddy’s or try one of the “Omakase-style” drinks at Library Bar, this hotel aims to please. And if you’re in an adventurous mood, go to Beacher’s Madhouse for a wild, 1920s-inspired, Hollywood variety show.
  • Las Perlas. For a small, intimate space, this downtown bar proudly boasts one of the biggest selections of tequila and mescal drinks in L.A. With cocktail ingredients like crème de cassis, tapatio and apricot foam, this cocktail spot is a great spot to try new things with a close group of friends.

7. The Great Outdoors

  • Zuma Beach. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or an expert sunbather, this gorgeous Malibu beach is pretty magical. And you don’t have to go during the summertime to enjoy it—the California sunset against the sparkling water is a crowd pleaser all year long.
  • Escondido Canyon Waterfall Hike. North of Santa Monica on the way to Malibu, you can pull off of PCH and begin a trek deep into Escondido Canyon. It’s a 4.2 mile round-trip, so you will get your day’s worth of cardio. To see the waterfall at its most active, go in the springtime.
  • Griffith Park. With its iconic view of the Hollywood sign and the gorgeous Griffith Observatory on the premises, this hiking mainstay is an L.A. landmark.

8. Tourist Attractions

  • LACMA. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with amazing exhibitions and an incredible permanent collection. Several installations actually stand outside the museum (like Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” and Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass”), so you can get a taste of the art it has to offer even if you’re just passing by.
  • Getty Villa. If you’ve already visited the Getty Center, take a trip out to the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades to feast your eyes on colorful gardens, tranquil fountains and a perfect view overlooking Malibu. Inside the museum you will find art from the ancient world of Greece and Rome. It’s worth a trip for the art, architecture, and landscaping.
  • Disneyland. No trip to Southern California is complete without a little stopover at the Happiest Place on Earth! We still love Disneyland as much as we did when we were 10.
  • The Hollywood Bowl. This family-friendly concert venue is smack-dab in the middle of the Hollywood hills, making it an iconic spot to catch a live show while visiting LA. You can bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine to enjoy while listening to the L.A. Philharmonic orchestra or your favorite band.

9. Coffee Shop

  • Handsome Coffee Roasters. Play Angeleno for a day at this artsy, L.A. coffee spot. The menu is simple, so this one isn’t for Frappuccino lovers. We’re talking only coffee or espresso, with organic whole milk, no sweetener. But, there’s no denying that they know how to do simple the right way. The street art alone is enough reason to make a trip.
  • Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia is actually a Chicago transplant, but it’s become an L.A. staple. With outposts in both Silver Lake and Venice, you can pop in this hipster haven no matter what side of town you’re staying on.
  • Lamill. With its elegant atmosphere and award winning coffee, Lamill is a great Eastside spot to enjoy brunch with girlfriends or grab a quick cappuccino. Not a coffee drinker? They also have the best chai tea latte you’ve ever tasted.
  • Caffé Luxxe. This Westside café has locations in Santa Monica and Brentwood, and therefore has a laid back vibe. Their espresso is one of the best in town, so go for a latte or cappuccino.

10. Spas and Salons

  • Gloss Nail Spa. This unassuming spot is in a strip mall in Silver Lake, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Gloss Nail Spa is known for amazing nail art and for being the place that many of L.A.’s top bloggers go for a flawless manicure.
  • Burke Williams. If you want the quintessential California destination for a luxurious and relaxing spa day, look no further. The massages and scrubs are to-die-for, and you can take advantage of their steam rooms, saunas, and whirlpool tubs while you’re there.
  • Touch of Faith Aesthetics. Educated in the art of face mapping and other holistic treatments, the aestheticians at Touch of Faith are skincare geniuses. If you’re in L.A., it’s the place to go for flawless skin. Which brings us to our giveaway…

How would you like to win a complementary consultation and customized facial at Touch of Faith Aesthetics in Los Angeles?

One lucky winner will receive this prize valued at $200 to Lauren’s favorite skincare spa!

We have our winner!
 A big congrats to Melissa McCarthy… Enjoy!

    1. Follow. If you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter at @laurenconradcom. If you don’t have a Twitter, follow on bloglovin’ by clicking here.
    2. Comment. Leave one comment below with your Twitter handle or bloglovin’ username along with a list of your three favorite hotspots in your city. We can’t wait to read them! (Please note that you must be a registered member to enter—click here to join now!)
    3. Wait. We will announce the winner on Tuesday, November 26th!
      Good luck!

And we hope you all enjoyed reading the L.A. City Guide. Whether you’re a local or planning to visit soon, be sure to bookmark this page and pull it up the next time you’re looking for one of our trusty recommendations.

XO Team LC

terms & conditions

you must be a registered member to enter. sign up by clicking here.
this contest is open to us residents only. sorry international fans!
winners will be contacted via private message to their inbox and by email. if our team does not hear back within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected in your place.
limit one comment per entry. multiple comment entries will not be considered.
this giveaway ends at midnight pst on tuesday, november 26th.

•this is not a sponsored giveaway in any way.

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