With a population of almost 4 million people, it’s an understatement to say that Los Angeles has a lot going on. If you're thinking of visiting L.A., the first thing you need to know about Los Angeles is that it's not New York. Or Paris or London or Tokyo or Sydney or any other city in the world. Throw out your expectations of how a major metropolis should be organized. Those rules don't apply here. L.A. is a unique, multi-faceted city.
I consider Los Angeles to be a complement of two different components: On one side, you get the high energy downtown hustle and bustle, Hollywood celebrity sightings and all the fashion your heart could desire. On the other side, the simplicity of life can be captured from the beach, the sun and the breath-taking views.
The one thing to note about visiting Los Angeles, is that unlike compact cities such as New York and San Francisco, L.A. is very spread out, so plan on renting a car, and on that note, plan to sit in some notorious L.A. traffic. Want to make sitting in traffic a bit more enjoyable? Consider renting a convertible and enjoy the beautiful Southern California sunshine.
With that said, once you get to where you’re going, you will have a blast. Every neighborhood in LA offers something different and unique. Naturally, Beverly Hills offers the glitz and glamour with Rodeo Drive, great restaurants and mansion lined streets. Can’t afford the high end designer offerings? Then enjoy window shopping at its best. Don’t forget to stop by Sprinkle’s cupcakes before you head home.
If you’re looking for something more laid back, check out beach cities Santa Monica, Venice or Malibu. Enjoy a day at historic muscle beach, check out the Santa Monica Pier, do some shopping at Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, have lunch beach side at Malibu’s Paradise Cove or do some wine tasting at Malibu Wines. If you want a higher energy backdrop, head over to Hollywood to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater or enjoy the lively night life. You can also head downtown to bustling LA Live where there's always something going on and tons of options to grab a bite or a glass of wine.
Bring your beach towel to Paradise Cove and enjoy the on-site beachfront following lunch.
With so much to do, here are my 3 “Must See” and “Must Eat.”
The Hollywood Sign: Built in 1923, no trip to L.A. is complete without checking out the iconic Hollywood sign. Want a unique perspective? Try hiking up to behind the sign. Here’s a great guide on getting there.
Rodeo Drive: It’s known throughout the world as “the place” for high fashion and luxury shopping. Although we all won’t be able to walk into the 300+ shops and prized boutiques and grab anything off the rack, it’s an amazing shopping experience nonetheless and window shopping at its best.
Take a Drive on Pacific Coast Highway: Just off the Santa Monica Pier and on the way to Malibu is beautiful Highway 1, or more famously known as PCH. Take this scenic route while visiting for guaranteed ocean views. PCH hugs the coastline north through Los Angeles up to Santa Barbara and all the way up to San Francisco. Follow it south to uncover a plethora of beautiful beach committees.
Sugar Fish: If you’re a sushi lover, this is hands down the freshest sushi available on the west coast. The fish literally melts in your mouth and the rice is served warm. This place is all about simplicity, so expect the basics – no fancy rolls here. Go for the “Trust Me” or “Trust Me Lite” if you want all the chef favorites.
Part of the "Trust Me" meal at Sugar Fish
Bay Cities Deli: This is a local favorite for some of the freshest baked bread and mouth-watering deli sandwiches. Build your own or try their famous Godmother sandwich, featuring four kinds of meat, provolone and “the works” (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, homemade Italian dressing and pickled hot or mild peppers) Yes it IS as good as everybody says it is. Insider tip: Want to avoid the line? Keep an out for a basket filled with pre-made Godmother Sandwiches available in both Mild or Hot sitting on the countertop occasionally. Just grab, and go! Looking for something other than the Godmother? Order online and you’ll feel like a pro when you arrive and waltz past everyone waiting.
Avoid the long line with one of these pre-made "Godmother" sandwiches.
Paco’s Tacos: Los Angeles has some of the best Mexican food around and this is my favorite spot. The tortillas are to die for, as they are made fresh to order and served piping hot. The food is authentic and affordable and the environment is super fun, yet relaxed. Get anything with a tortilla and you are in for a treat. My personal favorite is the enchiladas. Do not confuse this place with Panchos Tacos...
A basket of freshly made flour tortillas served alongside our meal at Paco's Tacos in Los Angeles.