West Hollywood is LA’s party zone and teems with nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and comedy clubs. After dark, Sunset Strip is the center of the action for poseurs, producers, and the pretty in-crowd. This is also LA’s gay quarter, especially along Santa Monica Boulevard. For shopaholics there’s Melrose Avenue, a quirky pathway lined with designer stores, tattoo parlors, Gothic-chic shops, and bustling cafés and eateries. It’s also home to the Pacific Design Center, the anchor of the Avenues of Art & Design. For cultural edification, head south to an amorphous district we’ve termed “Midtown,” whose main artery, Wilshire Boulevard, boasts some of the city’s finest museums along the historic Miracle Mile.
189 The Grove Drive • 323-900-8000 • Open 10am–9pm Mon–Thu, 10am–10pm Fri & Sat, 10am–8pm Sun
Adjoining the Farmers Market, the Grove is an attractive, upscale outdoor shopping and dining center with a first-rate 14-screen movie theater. This mall features highlights such as a historic trolley and a fountain with a water show set to music. Along with adjacent CBS Television City and the Farmers Market, the Grove occupies land once owned by the Gilmore family. Gilmore Stadium, home of the Hollywood Stars, a baseball team owned by Bing Crosby, Cecil B. DeMille, and Barbara Stanwyck, was once located where CBS now stands.
6333 W 3rd St • 323-954-4230 • Open 9am–9pm Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm Sat, 10am–7pm Sun • www.farmersmarketla.com
In 1934, two entrepreneurs asked landowner E. B. Gilmore for permission to start a produce market on a vacant parking lot on his property. Soon after, a group of farmers started selling fresh fruit, flowers, and vegetables from trucks. Many of the 150 stalls of Farmers Market, such as Magee’s Nuts, have been in the same families for generations. Scouts from nearby CBS TV City roam in search of game-show audience members.
A virtual cornucopia of paintings, sculpture, furniture, and objects that would take several days to peruse await in six buildings. LACMA also hosts touring exhibits.
Sunset Strip has been LA’s nocturnal playground since the 1920s and is the most history-laden section of the 25-mile (40-km) Sunset Boulevard. With redevelopment underway, new hotels and clubs are set to open in 2019 and 2020. Landmarks including the Chateau Marmont, the Whisky a Go-Go, the Mondrian Hotel with its exclusive SkyBar, and the Viper Room music club, still attract stars and fans.
6060 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile • 323-930-2277 • Open 6am–11pm daily • Adm
LA’s evolution from sleepy outpost to sweeping megalopolis is uniquely tied to the rise of the automobile. This is the basic premise of this wonderful museum, which does a lot more than display pretty vintage cars (though there are plenty of those, too). On the ground floor, you’ll follow a Los Angeles “streetscape” through 100 years of car history. You’ll pass dioramas of a 1920s gas station, a 1930s showroom, and a 1950s drive-in restaurant. Upstairs, the cars take center stage. Exhibits change regularly, but they usually include galleries devoted to hot rods, motorcycles, and vehicles owned by celebrities or used in movies. For children, the Discovery Center makes science fun.
Along Beverly Blvd, Robertson Blvd, & Melrose Ave between La Cienega Blvd & Doheny Dr
The streets surrounding the Pacific Design Center (PDC) are flanked with design stores where you can actually buy – and not just look at (as in the PDC) – what you see. Best explored on foot, the district is filled with cutting-edge art galleries, trendy restaurants, and cafés.
5814 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile • 323-937-4230 • Open 11am– 5pm Tue–Fri, 11am–6pm Sat & Sun 6:30–9:30pm first Thu of month • Adm (free for under 10s) • www.cafam.org
This small museum is dedicated to showcasing handicrafts and folk art from around the world. The brainchild of folk art collector Edith Wyle, it was originally launched in 1965 as “The Egg and The Eye,” a gallery space and omelet restaurant. Apart from its changing exhibits, CAFAM is best known for its annual International Festival of Masks, which is held in October.
Though it has seen better days, Melrose Avenue is still a haven for Hollywood hipsters and the place to stock up on vintage threads, provocative fashions, and unusual gift items. Weekend afternoons are prime time for soaking it all up.
8687 Melrose Ave, 310-657-0800, open 9am–5pm Mon–Fri • MOCA at PDC: 310-289-5223, open 11am–5pm Tue–Fri (to 8pm Thu), 11am–6pm Sat & Sun • www.moca.org
The 130 showrooms of this complex display the finest in furniture, fabrics, lighting, and accessories. With a contemporary 1975 design by Cesar Pelli the most striking feature of the PDC is the blue glass facade, known as “The Blue Whale.” The clover-green addition dates from 1988. Behind the PDC is a branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art, showcasing architecture and design.
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile • 323-934-7243 • Open 9:30am–5:30pm • Adm (free first Tue of the month, every Tue in Sep, and for under 5s) • www.tarpits.org
Mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and dire wolves are the stars of this museum offering a look at life in LA during the last Ice Age. Since 1906, excavations at the pits adjacent to the museum have yielded over a million fossilized bones of about 450 species of insects, birds and mammals. Many are now on display here. There is also a glass-walled laboratory where paleontologists may be seen working. Outside the museum, life-size replicas of mammoths trapped in muck dramatize the ghastly fate of Los Angeles’s prehistoric denizens.
West Hollywood is the center of LA’s gay and lesbian community. There’s plenty of partying in the many happening bars, clubs, cafés, and restaurants along Santa Monica Boulevard. Huge crowds turn up for the colorful Christopher Street West Parade in June and the wonderfully outrageous Halloween Carnival.
Start your day at Wilshire Boulevard’s “Museum Row” to catch the latest headline exhibit at LACMA or to see selections from its superb permanent collection. Don’t miss the beautiful Pavilion for Japanese Art. If you can muster the energy before lunch, head to the Petersen Automotive Museum or the Page Museum.
Leaving Museum Row, drive a few blocks north to the Farmers Market, and try the Cajun food at Gumbo Pot, or the all- American menu at Du-Par’s.
For an afternoon of shopping, start with the Farmers Market itself, then wander over to The Grove, an outdoor mall. Head north on Fairfax Avenue, turning right on Melrose Avenue. This quintessential LA shopping street is packed with fun and funky stores and offers great people-watching opportunities, especially on weekends.
Head off for an early dinner at Lucques, with its deli-cious Californian-Mediterranean cuisine, then drive up to Sunset Strip for an evening of laughs at the Comedy Store or The Laugh Factory. Make your reservations in advance. Showtime is usually 8pm. Round off your day with a drink at Bar Marmont or the lounge at the chic Standard Hollywood.
937 N La Cienega Blvd • 310-652-1711
A spacious gallery exhibiting trendsetting contemporary work by several artists, including the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
7021 Melrose Ave • 323-937-7088
This small space is crowded with some of the city’s hottest new talent. It is known as the best place in the US for pop-culture-themed work.
8920 Melrose Ave • 310-276-2600
This gallery specializes in late 19th- and early 20th-century Impressionist landscape painters based in California such as Guy Rose.
8783 Beverly Blvd • 424-777-0341
In addition to a sales showroom of Leica cameras, a gallery celebrates the world through the lenses of the world’s finest photographers.
8678 Melrose Ave • 310-657-1711
Home to the largest collection of Andy Warhol originals on the West Coast, this gallery also features Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and other pop art icons.
9002 Melrose Ave • 310-276-0147
Mid-century abstract artists from the West Coast are featured in this gallery. It also acts as an agent for private parties selling impressionist, modern and Latin American art.
8920 Melrose Ave • 310-271-7980
The works of established as well as up-and-coming contemporary artists are featured at this innovative gallery.
825 La Cienega Blvd • 310-652-8272
Owned by the Los Angeles Art Association, it has four exhibit areas showing works by its cooperative members. All genres are represented, with a focus on contemporary art.
7321 Beverly Blvd • 323-933-5523
This LA art-scene fixture began with a focus on prints and drawings, but is best known as a keen promoter of pre-1960s California Modernists.
148 N La Brea Ave • 323-934-2250
A power in the world of rare, vintage, and contemporary art photography, Fahey/Klein showcases Henri Cartier-Bresson and other high-profile artists.
7360 Melrose Ave • 323-655-2708
This small store stocks affordable jewelry, mostly silver, to adorn any body part you wish. It also has a great mask collection.
8214 Melrose Ave • 323-655-1960
If Rodeo Drive is out of your league, try this couture resale boutique that stocks second-hand clothing and 1960s and 1970s Pucci and Courrèges.
8100 Melrose Ave (also at 420 Broadway, 500 Broadway) • 323-651-4129, 310-394-9814
This über-trendy house of style (see Fred Segal) attracts A-list celebrities. Shop for luxurious clothes, beauty products, and gift items at steep prices.
At the corner of Melrose & Fairfax aves • 323-655-7679 • Open 9am–5pm Sun • Adm (free for under 12s)
This cool Sunday flea market takes you back through the years with vintage fashions, collectibles, and retro furnishings.
7428 Melrose Ave • 323-653-3028
Stylists and bargain-hunters shop for vintage clothing, accessories, and shoes at this warehouse-sized store.
8465 Melrose Ave • 323-653-0467
Best known for its selection of vintage watches, this classy store now also stocks contemporary watch models, antique diamond rings, and 1920s Art Nouveau baubles.
7407 Melrose Ave • 323-653-8255
This unusual and vibrant store is known for featuring the most unique eyeglass designs on the planet and attracts its share of the hip crowd.
8440 Melrose Ave • 323-895-7880
A favorite destination for celebrity shoppers, this lifestyle store stocks home decor, furniture, lighting, fabrics, and gifts.
7609 Melrose Ave • 323-655-3375
Stylist and owner Scott specializes in flashy statement pieces for men and women looking to stand out in the club scene or those who just want to add an artistic, urban edge to their wardrobes.
7220 Melrose Ave • 323-934-8684
If the sight of freeze-dried ducklings gives you the creeps, you should probably avoid this “little shop of horrors.” Budding sorcerers will find delightfully macabre stuff to buy.
9015 Sunset Blvd • 310-278-4232
Rock‘n’roll devotees flock to this legendary bar filled with photos, records, and guitars of every headliner rocker group imaginable.
8440 Sunset Blvd, at the Mondrian Hotel • 323-848-6025
Famous for its poolside cocktails, celebrity crowd, and sweeping city views. Getting past the velvet rope here is a tall order.
8300 Sunset Blvd • 323-822-3111
The entertainment at this hotel hot spot includes a live acoustic music series, book readings, a DJ above the reception, and dancing.
8909 Sunset Blvd • 310-360-6800
Resembling a 1920s-style speakeasy, Pearl’s has three levels of drinking fun, including an upper deck with views across West Hollywood.
8117 Sunset Blvd • 323-940-1650
Expect exclusivity and attitude at this celeb-heavy nightclub, with private tables and large couches.
8371 W Sunset Blvd • 323-656-2007
A Texas-style steakhouse popular with families until 10pm, when it becomes a lively night-time hangout.
8852 Sunset Blvd • 310-358-1880
8901 W Sunset Blvd • 310-652-4202
LA’s epicenter of rock’n’roll in the 1960s, this club found fame for The Doors and still books new bands.
9009 W Sunset Blvd • 310-278-9457
This no-nonsense club is loved by serious fans as its focus is on the show, not the decor or the crowd.
8171 Sunset Blvd • 323-650-0575
Super-trendy lounge next to the Chateau Marmont hotel with lots of beautiful people. To increase your chances of getting past the front door arrive early, by about 9 or 10pm.
8474 Melrose Ave • 323-655-6277 • $$$$
Try the pancetta-wrapped trout at this intimate spot, then enjoy the desserts by the fireplace.
8020 Beverly Blvd • 323-653-5858 • $$
This retro diner with its plaid booths and Andy Warhol wallpaper serves steamy chicken soup and bulging sandwiches until the wee hours.
435 N Fairfax • 323-782-9225 • $$$
Animal serves rich, indulgent, and carnivore-friendly food. Try the chicken-liver mousse.
7313 Beverly Blvd • 323-297-0070 • Veg: On request • Closed Mon • $$$
Having cooked for the Pope and presidents, Chef Angelini now delights foodies with his comfort food.
8935 Santa Monica Blvd • 310-777-0310 • $
A variety of tasty meats topped on corn tortillas are served here.
8350 W 3rd St • 323-655-2285 • $
This little deli is great for gourmets on the go or out for a casual lunch. The tarragon chicken salad is great.
419 N Fairfax • 323-651-2030 • $$
An LA classic since 1931, this family-owned Jewish-style deli is a popular after-hours spot.
113 N Robertson Blvd • 310-274-8303 • $$$
Join the stars in two dining rooms filled with flowers. Try the Caesar salad or the crispy crab cakes.
12217 Santa Monica Blvd • 310-820-9787 • Closed Sun • $$$
Sushi of all types and stripes is on offer, and all of it is fresh.
7119 Melrose Ave • 323-525-0588 • $$
Chaya’s macrobiotic cuisine has a huge following. Try the exquisite club sandwich with tempeh “bacon.”