Some of you may know that L.A. is like a second home to me. I go there as often as possible, and love every second of it. There is an inexplicable energy in La La Land - it's a creative mecca, where people go to pursue their dreams.
L.A. gets a bad reputation for being fake, but there are actually an incredible number of amazing views, restaurants, museums, and neighborhoods to explore.
Check out some of my favorites from my last trip to the city of endless creativity!
Where to eat
You're not vegan? I don't care! by CHLOE. is hands down the best "fast food" place there ever was, is, or will be. They only have locations in NYC, LA, Boston and Providence (cry), so anytime I'm somewhere where they are, I absolutely stop by. With the quinoa taco bowl, guac burger, and beet ketchup (it's literally pink - whaaat!), you'll actually forget that you're eating vegan and will experience the pure joy of delicious food. Plus their aesthetic is so.much.fun.
If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with boba tea, and not only is Alfred Tea one of the best boba tea places I've ever been to, it's also BEAUTIFUL (think nonstop Millennial Pink, neon signs, and greenery). Also, can we talk about their perfect slogan: "Tea, yes. You, maybe." !!! Get your phone ready if you're heading over and don't be shy, because there will inevitably be at least 3 other people already taking photos here. Make sure to visit both the front entrance and the back alley, as they're both absolutely adorable. Don't know what to order? Be cool like me and get the coconut tea with coconut milk and extra boba (zero added sweetness). They also sell yummy salads and snacks. Oh, and you can get A WHOLE COCONUT AND ADD MATCHA AND/OR BOBA INTO IT. Not even kidding.
Alfred Coffee is across the street and while I don't drink coffee, it's still a must-see with their now insta-famous slogan "But first, coffee." They also sell reeeeaaallllly yummy breakfast burritos. Mmm.
Both of these are located on Melrose Place, which is a destination in and of itself. Definitely save some time to walk up and down this short but amazingly gorgeous street.
The Butcher's Daughter
This is a vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant in my favorite neighborhood of L.A. - Abbot Kinney. "What? Another veggie place?" you say? "What's your problem, Julia?" Well, I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, but I promise, this is another place where you won't even notice or care. I recommend coming here for brunch so you can take a million photos because the interior is insanely beautiful. Every place you look is gorgeous and so well designed and decorated. The food is delicious, it's affordable, I just can't say enough great things about this place. Just go. Go go go. Also, if you order a smoothie, it comes with a straw that has the cutest avocados on it!
Where to sleep
The Jeremy Hotel
This category only has one entry because this is very likely the coolest hotel in all of L.A. The Jeremy Hotel, located in my second favorite neighborhood of L.A. (West Hollywood), just opened in mid-August and Is styled after rock-and-roll's glory days (but not in an obnoxious way). The gorgeous wooden pool decks overlook the city skyline with a glass barrier that doesn't block any of the view, the multiple lobbies are huge with incredible art displayed in every corner and smaller inviting spaces created without walls, and the restaurant/bar with an outdoor deck serves literally the best salmon I've ever tasted (with the crispiest skin, I'm seriously drooling right now remembering it) along with amazing salads, apps, and desserts. Our room was playful and minimalist, but simultaneously posh, dripping with character. I can't wait to come back.
Where to play
The Museum of Ice Cream (temporary)
If you have the chance, you HAVE TO go to the Museum of Ice Cream. It's a temporary interactive art exhibit that is making its way through major cities like NYC, L.A. and coming soon to SF. It doesn't actually matter whether or not you like ice cream (although you are given an ice cream treat in every other room) because the fun of it is in the experience. There are approximately 12 rooms, each with a different color, theme, and interactive element. This place is honestly what dreams are made of. Hugging a human-sized gummy bear, swimming in a pool filled with sprinkles, and swinging on an ice-cream sandwich are only a couple of the experiences you get in this magical place. I definitely feel like adults get even more out of this experience than kids. Sure, it's a kid's literal dream come true, but adults get to have that childlike wonder that many of us lose as we "grow up" (blegh!).
I'm going to write a separate blog post about MOIC, which I'll link here when it's finished. Can't wait to share all of the photos with you!
Famous street art
There are countless amounts of ever-changing street art in Los Angeles. If you follow any bloggers at all on Instagram, you've probably already seen the most famous pieces of street art in L.A. The "Made in LA" sign, the wings, the pink Paul Smith wall. I recommend going on a street art hunt and seeing how many you can find for yourself.
I'll be writing about the street art that we found on this trip in a separate blog post (with addresses so you can find them too!), which I'll link here when it's live.
Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign
The Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign are both iconic parts of Los Angeles. There is something so romantic about these two places. The observatory has an incredible view of just how expansive L.A. is, with white Greek-esque architecture that makes the whole experience even more dreamy. The sign is equally as incredible and holds in it the all of the secrets of the magic of this city.
Pro tip: visit the observatory super early, before it opens. Once it's open (and even the hour before it opens), way too many people pile in, making it difficult to take photos and enjoy the views in peace. Parking also fills up super quickly, so unless you want to hike up a huge hill, come early. Come back long after it closes for the nighttime view.
There is a (sort of) secret hike up to the Hollywood sign. Basically, just follow the streets on your maps app (don't enter an address) to get as close to the Hollywood Sign as you can. At the very top, there is a gate where you can walk in and hike either 100 feet to be under the sign, or a longer hike to get above (and closer) to the sign. There is street parking during the week, and definitely expect to see other people. Also, don't get stranded waiting for an Uber up there! If you have a car, just take it up and park.
I love L.A.
I love L.A., and can't wait to go back! Hope you enjoy a little bit of my experience through these recommendations. Spam me with your pics if go to any of these spots! <3
Julia O Test is a lifestyle blogger and photographer based in San Francisco.