Anna, our twenty-year-old, and I recently enjoyed a long weekend in Los Angeles before she headed back to college. It was all about shopping, dining, and being together – girl fun set against the glitzy background of LaLa Land. Here’s how we scripted the trip:
LAY OF THE LAND: When making plans to visit L.A., you need to plot your course carefully to cover as much territory as possible without becoming snarled in traffic. We Ubered everywhere to avoid navigating congested, unfamiliar freeways.
HOTELS: We stayed at the wonderful Beverly Hills Hotel , aka PINK PALACE, which lived up to its world-class reputation. If the walls (or, should I say, the famous banana-leaf wallpaper) could talk…the stories they would tell. The hotel’s Polo Lounge remains a hot spot frequented by many celebs. We just missed Leonardo DiCaprio as he apparently enjoys breakfast in the Polo Lounge garden every Thursday morning. We enjoyed our breakfast there, as well as lunch (get the tortilla soup and McCarthy salad), but we especially loved the counter-only Fountain Coffee Room, a local favorite for homey breakfasts and afternoon ice cream.
Because I often combine work with pleasure travel, we took time to tour another iconic property, the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire of Pretty Woman fame. The hotel’s ROSÉ Rooftop Summer Bar is a gorgeous venue overlooking Rodeo Drive.
DINING: L.A.’s dining scene mirrors the vibe of the city… relaxed, but refined. The options are nearly endless with everything from wonderful farm-to-table eateries to sophisticated culinary institutions. We opted for the more relaxed and convenient venues:
AVRA– the hot, new Greek place. Danny Devito was seated at the next table.
GRACIAS MADRE– a Mexican restaurant with plant-based menu that appeals to vegans and non-vegans alike.
CRAIG’S – across the street from Gracias Madre; delicious and a celebrity favorite. If you go after 8:00 pm, you just might catch a star.
CATCH LA– fresh seafood with a fun vibe. Request a table outside.
KATSU-YA– sushi with locations all around town. The original at Studio City (supposedly Kim Kardashian is a regular) and the Hollywood spot are preferred.
In VENICE (25 min from Beverly Hills via Uber), the dining options are endless. We hit a few casual spots.
THE TASTING KITCHEN – for an amazing brunch.
GJUSTA – no reservations and always a wait.
GJELINA – foodie hot spot that put Venice on the map as a culinary destination. Reservations a must.
SALT AND STRAW – for dessert…best ice cream…worth the wait!
WABI VENICE – sushi, next door to The Tasting Kitchen.
SHOPPING: ABBOT KINNEY BLVD, a 15-block street in Venice, is the place to go for cool shopping. It’s hard to say which store was our favorite as they all have their own sense of style, but we did have good luck at THE PIECE COLLECTIVE. HEIST is also worth a peek as it features original items from up-and-coming European designers. Note, most shops don’t open until 11:00 am, so plan accordingly.
TOURING: TOUR DU JOURoffers private luxury tours of L.A. Caroline Travels the World has used this company with great success for years. Anna and I did the Celebrity Home Tour , which was great fun. Scott, a fabulous guide, can read a client’s mind in two seconds – just what a travel advisor wants to hear! He took us to a “secret” spot to get as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign, resulting in one of our favorite photos of the trip. Tours are only two hours long and a fun way to explore the city in a luxury vehicle.
EXERCISING: Soul Cycle Beverly Hills has a wait list, so be sure to sign up in advance (you must register at 3pm EST on Monday, the week of your classes). Getting there is an easy five-minute Uber, or take the BHH house car. You can use their cycling shoes and lockers for your valuables.
VENTURING FARTHER AFIELD: To explore southern California, I recommend heading outside of LA in almost any direction to the Montage Laguna Beach, Malibu Beach Inn, Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego or El Encanto in Santa Barbara or the Four Seasons Santa Barbara, to name a few.
I do NOT recommend staying in Santa Monica as it is an easy half or full-day trip from LA and can be easily accessed from a less-crowded Beverly Hills base.
Caroline Travels the World…And So Can You.