What’s the best way to make your summer last just that little bit longer? Travel to a place where it rarely drops below 20 degrees and practically the only season on the spectrum is summer. Yes, Los Angeles, City of Angels, home of perennial sunshine, pavements engraved with the handprints of Stars, surfer dudes galore, and a multitude of excellent TV programmes (90210, The Hills, I’m looking at you). I took a trip to the West Coast for 10 days, staying at my friend Tom’s – who recently deployed himself there from London to chase the rays. So rather than hitting up all of the tourist traps, it was a little more of an insiders-view to the city. Here’s a little need to know of the city.
A friend told me that Venice has an artsy vibe, and with street art splashed on practically every corner of every building, it made total sense. Trying to mentally pair it with an area of London was impossible – it had the independent boutiques you’d find in Shoreditch, pop-up restaurants and eateries that felt a little Soho, and buzzy vibe along the beach front that felt somewhat akin to that at Brixton Village. Then of course, the surfer atmosphere that can’t be found in London for lack of sunshine and a beach, naturally. It’s a true melting pot of cultures and aesthetics.
There’s Muscle Beach, which had plenty of Arnold Schwarzenegger action in the 60s and 70s, and retains its macho-macho mask even now. Then the sun-baked Venice Beach Boardwalk, tailed on to all kinds of pop-up stalls and shops, not to mention rollerbladers, beach bunnies, and gym bros.
It’s also home to plenty of food joints and friendly locals. This guy Kenny (I think was his name) stopped to chat and he looked so cool I just had to take his picture.
Just a little further up from Venice is Santa Monica. Glossier, it has an array of shops (Louis Vuitton and other high-end fashion houses) down to your cornerstone US shopping stores (Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville, and Victoria’s Secret, naturally.) Yet contrasting the slick shopping centres and trendy bars is Santa Monica Pier. Of course, it has all of the tacky hoardings any tourist trap might, but it simply adds to its charm. Watch the sun set whilst eating Mexican and drinking sangria at Mariasol.
I love the United Kingdom, but one thing America does better than the UK over and over is food. I don’t know how, or why, or what, but everything they do seems to taste better. Suberpa Food & Bread is a perfect all-rounder no matter what time you go. For brunch, their avocado on toast is perfection and their summer vegetable hash is delicious (not to mention incredibly colourful.) For lunch, grab a turkey sandwich (so much sexier than the name suggests, with goats cheese, caramelised onions, avocado, chilli jam) or a Hippie Burger (pictured above). The Tasting Kitchen on Abbott Kinney would make a great date place and is perfect for cocktails, wine, alongside lighter bites. For a great atmosphere, and even greater cheese, try out Rose Cafe. Eat the burrata and you’ll question whether you’re living IRL or a fantasy one.
If hungover brunch is needed, go south-of-the-border style at Cervetica. Their chorizo scrambled eggs is served with a corn tortilla, black beans, and roasted potatoes. So good there’s few things I think it won’t fix.
For Views (and booze)
In a city around three times the size of London, there’s plenty to take in. So what better way to do it than watching the sunrise at a rooftop bar? For coastline views avec cocktails, has to be Hotel Erwin’s rooftop in Venice – the skyline stretches all the way across and you get a perfect view and idea of where’s where in the city. If you want something a little glossier, move on up the coastline to Santa Monica’s Shangri La hotel terrace. Its location is a stones-throw away from The Bungalow – a seriously slick joint which basically epitomises everything you ever hoped and thought LA would be. Think twinkling lights in trees, cocktails, split rooms, plenty of music, and boho-style decor.
For daytime views, forget climbing the Hollywood Sign and try out the Griffith Observatory instead. A little bit of astronomy, a neat view of the Hollywood sign, and a panoramic span of the city ticks all photographic boxes.
If your budget lies more towards the unlimited side, walk down the notoriously glossy Rodeo Drive to spend some of your dollar. It’s worth a trip, even if you can’t quite afford to splash the cash, just to take in the sights of super cars, millionaire playboys, and people that earned more money yesterday than you might in your whole life (BRB just going to cry into my empty wallet.)
A little too glossy? Whilst America lacks any strong contenders for a highstreet equivalent to rival that of the UK, what it has in abundance is independent boutiques. Try out Venice’s trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Expect Instagram-worthy stores lined up the whole stretch of the street, and equally Instagram-worthy street art punctuating the streets stemming off it.
Don’t have a sick ride like this pup? No problem. The best way to get about is by car, but if you can’t rent one, Uber’s are some of the cheapest you’ll get across the globe so will hardly set you back. If you do have the budget (and patience) to drive on the other side of the road, rent a convertible. It’s posery as hell, screams “she doesn’t even go here!” to the locals, but undeniably plays part as your own open-top tour bus as you ride through the city.
Have you been to LA? I’d love to know your favourite spots or what you thought of the city!
Planning a trip? Don’t hesitate to tweet me your questions!