Los Angeles: The Complete Traveler's Guide by Annie Fairfax Los Angeles Angel's Flight Orange Tram Train
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Los Angeles Luxury Travel Guide

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Los Angeles: The Complete Traveler's Guide by Annie Fairfax

Los Angeles is one of the most beautiful, and exciting cities in the world, because there’s always so much going on, and there’s always something for everyone. Home to more than 100 museums, thousands of annual festivals and events, and a great place to spend a couple of weeks, or schedule a layover, my guide to Los Angeles will help you plan your next Los Angeles adventure! Below are my recommendations for the City of Angels, to help you have the best time possible!

Getting There

Getting to Los Angeles is as simple as scheduling a flight into one of the world’s largest, and busiest international airports, LAX.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, we split our time between the Farmer’s Daughter and the Ritz Carleton Los Angeles, and we loved both equally!

Where to Eat in Los Angeles

I recommend heading to Grand Central Market at least once during your visit to Los Angeles. It’s a large, indoor market filled with places to buy groceries and candy, but also a great place to eat things like fresh seafood, vegan ramen, incredible breakfast foods, authentic Mexican food, and so much more. You can read all about it in my guide to Grand Central Market, here.

Breakfast: 
Bottega Louie is a cute Parisian style Pâtisserie in downtown Los Angeles
Eggslut Inside Grand Central Market has an AMAZING breakfast. I recommend “The Slut”, it’s potatoes, egg, and seasoning that’s mixed in a cup and sounds weird and boring, but it’s FANTASTIC

Lunch:
Din Tai Fun Dumplings
Industriel Urban Farm Cuisine has impeccable service and delightful French food
Republique had a fantastic plant-based lunch experience that I highly recommend if you’re a fan of inventive dishes and lots of flavor!

Dinner:
Hinoki and the Bird is a beautiful, open-air fine dining place with French-Japanese fusion food and a peaceful, intimate atmosphere.
Patina is SUCH a great place for a romantic dinner. They have a fantastic French-American tasting menu that brought me right back to our time in France a couple of years ago!
Providence is an upscale seafood restaurant that serves freshly caught fish and seafood in inventive ways
Shojin Vegan Sushi is absolutely AMAZING, even if you’re not vegan. It’s probably the most flavorful sushi I’ve ever had!

Snacks, Drinks & Desserts: 
Honeymee Luxury ice cream
Press Brother’s fresh, organic raw juices inside Grand Central Market
Milk & T custom bubble tea bar
Moon Juice is technically in WeHo, but it has amazing adaptogenic juices and snacks. I wish we had one here in Michigan!
Sprinkles Cupcake ATM (has gluten-free options!)

What to Do in Los Angeles

There is SO much happening in Los Angeles at any given point, that it’s impossible to write about everything. While we were in Los Angeles, here are some of our favorite things that we did, and would recommend:

Check out The Getty Museum & Gardens for incredible art, and breathtaking views

Check out Los Angeles’ 5 Most Beautiful Museums and learn about ancient history, rare works of art, food, culture, and society

Enjoy wine tasting, the outdoors, and art at Barnsdall Art Park

Explore Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors Exhibit and take a peak into the infinity

Explore the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and walk the grounds

Go down the glass slide on the outside of a skyscraper at OUE Skyspace

Have a picnic at Runyan Canyon Park

Hike up to see the Hollywood Sign – and an amazing view of Los Angeles

Learn about the world at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Spend a day at Disneyland

Spend an afternoon in Little Tokyo

Wander the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

Watch the sunset over Los Angeles, and stargaze at Griffith Observatory

Visit Beverly Hills and shop (or window shop) inside stores like Chanel, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and dozens more down the famous Rodeo Drive

Visit The Broad Museum to see incredible modern art by Roy Lichtenstein and many others

Visit the Getty Villa 

Visit Irvine

Visit West Hollywood

Instagrammable Spots in Los Angeles

Bradbury Building
The Broad Museum
Chinatown
The Getty Villa
Griffith Observatory
The Hollywood Sign
Little Tokyo
LACMA installation Urban Lights
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Pink Wall
UOE Skyspace
Wall of Neon Lights Inside Grand Central Market
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Westfield Outdoor Mall

Getting Around Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a very large, sprawling city, which was initially built outwards rather than upwards. This, coupled with the city’s notoriously complex and slow traffic routes, means that navigating the city can be intimidating for unconfident drivers, and people unfamiliar with the city. If you fall into either of these categories, I recommend that you use a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber, rather than driving, because not only will you not have to worry about driving in heavy, complex traffic on 4-10 lane highways, but you also won’t have to worry about parking.

Parking

Parking in Los Angeles is sometimes tricky, and usually pricey, but if you can find daily rate parking garages, you might be able to get away with only paying $15 dollars for an entire day of parking, but don’t expect to come and go as you please, or else you’ll have to pay again. Use this guide to plan your itinerary and research where you can park, if you have a rental car, or just use a ride-sharing service to get around town and don’t worry about parking!

Safety

Los Angeles has a bad reputation for high crime rates, chronic underreporting of crimes, and high tensions between the local police, the LAPD, aka the Los Angeles Police Department, and locals. Los Angeles has also been consistently ranked as one of the more dangerous cities in the United States, and around the world. That being said, we’ve been to Los Angeles twice in the past five years and have never had any issues. People in Los Angeles are very kind and look out for one another, as well as travelers, and many parts of the city are extremely safe, even at night.

As with any large city, don’t flash valuables, don’t walk into sketchy-looking places alone at night, and trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to get yourself out of the situation or call for help. If you ever have any issues, duck into an open shop or restaurant and ask for help. You won’t be ignored. Be alert, and be cautious, but don’t let it ruin your trip. We’ve found ourselves in some “sketchy looking” places in Los Angeles, like right outside of Grand Central Market (which is AMAZING!), but we were completely fine, so just be sure to enjoy your time here and if you’re still worried, stick to touristy areas and the main roads during the day and into the evening, and you will be fine.

California is situated along the San Andreas fault line, and as such, is prone to earthquakes. Many are minor tremors that don’t affect daily life, and there are very few in the last decade that were even noteworthy. Just be aware that there exists the possibility of an earthquake, come up with a plan of action, and know how to stay safe in the unlikely event that a larger earthquake happens while you’re there. You can check out California’s Earth Quake Safety information here.

Unfortunately, the Golden Coast and Los Angeles area recently fell victim to major forest fires in October 2018, which decimated cities like Malibu and other surrounding areas. As I mentioned above, it rarely rains in California, so when it’s dry and dusty, there’s an increased chance of forest fires, although they are rarely so severe. Downtown Los Angeles was untouched, and thankfully, there were very few casualties (aside from massive property loss), but it’s still good to be aware of the fire danger levels and have a plan of what you and your fellow travelers would do in the event of an evacuation due to fires.

When the Weather Isn’t Great

The weather in Los Angeles is almost always beautiful. It rarely rains, and the only times it gets uncomfortable is when the temperatures soar into the 100º+ in the summers. When this happens, head indoors to one of Los Angeles’ dozens of museums, or head to the beach and cool off in the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean! There’s no shortage of wonderful things to do here in the summer sun, like hiking, water skiing, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, road tripping, or just getting outdoors and exploring California’s beautiful Golden Coast!

Day Trips from Los Angeles (in miles from LAX)

Los Angeles is in a fantastic position to take day trips and explore the area. Renting a car is a great idea if you plan to go on more than 3-day trips because you have the freedom to drive around as much as you’d like. I would recommend taking a ride-share service like Lyft or Uber to Disneyland because there’s almost no parking, it’s very expensive to park, and drivers can drop you off right up front, rather than hiking more than a mile just to get to the ticket counter from the parking lots.

Anaheim ( 34 Miles)
Beverly Hills (12 Miles)
Catalina Island (ferry or helicopter from Laguna Beach)
Disneyland (34 Miles)
Irvine (43 Miles)
Laguna Beach (53 Miles)
Malibu (26 Miles)
Newport Beach (44 Miles)
Santa Monica (8.1 Miles)
West Hollywood (11 Miles)

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19 Comments

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to LA and this is such a great guide! Definitely saving this for future reference!

  2. Rach DiMare says:

    It’s been ages since I’ve been to LA. I hope to get back there soon and this guide is so helpful! There’s so places to eat that I have never been to!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

  3. What a great guide! Los Angeles is so much fun! Of course, Disney is my fave! But I love the Getty Villa, Getty, Beverly Hills, and LACMA!

  4. Anna English says:

    LA is definitely on my travel wish-list! This post is so helpful.

  5. What an awesome guide to LA! Your pics are simply stunning – hope you had an amazing trip!

    xoxo Sarah

  6. Oh my gosh – this guide is SO good! My boyfriend went to college and lived out in LA for several years, but I’ve never been. Adding these places to our itinerary for our trip this fall!

    Rachel
    http://www.hello-her.com

  7. legalleeblondeblog says:

    This is definitely making me miss LA! I need another trip down there asap!

  8. Thanks for sharing! I’m about to leave L.A. myself and I feel like there is still a lot of the city I didn’t see – partly because leaving the ‘bubble’ of one’s neighborhood is hard with all the traffic! I do wish it was a more walkable city!
    http://iamchiconthecheap.com

    1. Oh yea, the traffic in LA is wild, and uber can be expensive. It would be great if it was more walkable, but then I guess it wouldn’t be “LA” if it was haha

  9. Its just awesome.Very much excited to visit after looking these scenarios.

  10. I love LA! Gonna have to try out some of these spots next time I’m out west!

    1. I hope you get to visit soon! LAX is a great place to schedule a layover for a day if you’re going somewhere else. That would give you a great introduction to the city!

  11. This blog post is almost dangerous for me haha. I’ve wanted to visit LA for YEARS, but it’s yet to happen. Whenever I do get the chance to go, I know I’ll want to see everythingggg so I’m trying to save up for a big, long trip! Thanks for sharing this insight!

    1. I hope you get to visit soon, it’s such an incredible place to visit. They have some of the best places to eat and stay in the world, from award winning BBQ joints and Michelin Star vegan restaurants, to chic boho Air BnBs and 5 star luxury resorts. I love LA, and I know you will too!

  12. Danielle J says:

    Ahh! My home state!