Updated: Jun 22
La La Land, the home of stars, wannabe stars and surfers. Perhaps a daunting destination, Los Angeles is one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever seen. But no one wants to get stuck in the tourist traps – so how do you look like a local in the most glamorous place on earth?
The Butchers Daughter is my family’s favourite breakfast place ever. Feel grateful that you have been let in on our best kept secret. Also boasting a restaurant in New York (blog post pending!) the Butcher’s Daughter is a plant-based restaurant, cafe, juice bar and “vegetable slaughterhouse." It’s not as scary as it sounds though, I promise! They “treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat… chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into healthy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices.” Based in the residential areas behind Venice Beach, I recommend having a mooch around the neighbourhood’s funky shops in the morning sun, with a ‘liquid vitality’ juice in hand.
And the best way to get there? By bike. Go cycling along Venice Beach at any time of day – but particularly in the morning sun en-route to pick up a ‘breakfast burrito’. The views of Santa Monica Pier, lifeguard huts and rows of funky shops and take-out restaurants await you. Locals will be rollerblading, scootering and strolling alongside you at this time of the day and you can gawp at the bodybuilders on Muscle Beach – or give it a go, yourself!
Since we’re already on the coastline, you might as well take a walk on Santa Monica’s iconic pier. Famous to me because of Hannah Montana’s sweet sixteen birthday party, and famous to my mum because it’s the backdrop for Baywatch, Santa Monica Pier is iconic in every sense of the word. Granted you’ll definitely be indulging in the tourist within you, but its free and its fun. Wander around with an ICEE in hand looking at the views or embrace your inner child and take a ride on the ferris wheel and bumper-cars. Did I mention that it’s free entry, too?
After all that time amidst the surfers, you’re probably going to be ready to embark on some retail therapy and see another part of the city, right? My number one recommendation for all your LA shopping needs, is to head to Melrose Avenue. The beautiful, tree-lined street is home to all the most popular brands the at the moment – the first Glossier store and Reformation, a sustainable clothing line that offers interactive changing rooms where you can alter the lighting, temperature and take photos. If shopping the latest trends isn’t your thing (although I’m not quite sure how that would be possible) then there is also a plethora of independent up-and-coming designers and artists galleries to explore.
Whilst you meander through Melrose, grab a famous iced coffee from Alfred’s – a popular haunt for LA’s most glamorous. Their smoothies are fab too if, like me, caffeine isn’t your cup of tea. Not to mention, they also sell some really aesthetically pleasing travel flasks so you can look like a proper LA girl carrying your caffeine-fix around when you’re back at home in the UK.
More shopping, I hear you cry? Not to fear, there’s plenty more where that came from. Just a walk away is the iconic Rodeo Drive. If you don’t make this your duty to stroll along the designer storefronts, it would be a “Big mistake! Big! Huge!” (side note: if you don’t get this reference, then clearly you need to do more research before your trip). Rodeo Drive boasts a seemingly infinite number of designer shops and decadent hotels, perfect for window shopping. Watch the Rolls Royces and sports cars glide by as you take in the scenes. If it gets too much at any point, just duck into one of the more understated side streets and admire from afar. I don’t think this is a permanent feature for us, but when we most recently visited there was a pop-up Louis Vuitton exhibition. Beautiful (and free!) we were able to peruse the history of the designer’s work and most recent designs worn by beloved celebrities. Keep an eye out for events like these when you visit as this was definitely a highlight for us!
My final recommendation for all your shopping needs is The Grove. The Grove is an outdoor shopping and dining venue that is soaked in sunshine and filled with jazz music. In fact, it was so manicured, bright and beautiful, we felt that we’d skipped a few days ahead of our schedule and landed in the centre of Disneyland. With iconic American stores like Brandy Melville, Madewell, Lulu Lemon and American Girl Place, The Grove is definitely the place to go. Also, we noticed that, whilst it comes up highly recommended as a ‘must-see’ for tourists, we were generally amongst locals on their weekend shopping spree.
Whilst at The Grove, turn a corner at the end and you’ll step into a world of delicious street food. The under-cover food market feels out of place amongst the glitz and glamour of the neighbouring shopping centre but is worth a trip in spite (and maybe because of) this! The glorious smells and sights of local food make your mouth water and you can sit amongst the hustle and bustle of the locals getting their lunch as you chow down on yours. A bit of real
life in the city of angels. Worth a visit (and a taste of the local delicacies!)
HOW TO SEE THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN...
WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE A TOURIST:
Of course, a trip to LA would be incomplete without a trip to see the Hollywood sign. Duh. But where’s the best place to see it? Not where all the tourists flock to, of course: Hollywood Boulevard. Instead, drive (or hike) to the stunning Griffith’s Observatory. The beautiful architecture and telescopes do lure some astronomists to the observatory, but that is not quite what I had in mind. It offers stunning views of the entire city and the infamous sign (great for photos!) It’s free to go inside and explore but also feel free to picnic nearby and enjoy the sunny weather. Not to mention, film fanatics may recognise that it is home to several iconic scenes from the Oscar-winning film La La Land. Go, go, go!
AND SAVING THE BEST UNTIL LAST...
Finally, maybe a more niche recommendation, go and catch a concert at the Fonda Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard. Before you arrive in tinseltown, I would definitely recommend checking out who’s playing and try and get a ticket. The historic venue, which opened in 1920, has been home to performances from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Katy Perry and Alabama Shakes, to name a few. We went to see the laid-back, beachy band Summer Salt and boogied alongside some of LA’s hippest crowds all night long. It also has a not-so-secret rooftop terrace which is definitely worth checking out. If you’re looking for something a bit different to do, and to get a taste of the real So-Cal lifestyle, then book a ticket and see a show. Even if you don’t know the performer’s music too well, it’s still worth going just for the experience of being in the venue.
So, there you go! I have unearthed to you all of the Holder family’s best kept secrets and most loved haunts of Los Angeles. Now the next thing to do is… get yourself on a flight and check it out yourself.
The majority of photo creds go to me, but please also check out my sister's website for her photography & art at www.oliviaholder.co.uk Photos that do not belong to me have been sourced from Pinterest - all rights go to the rightful owners.