Before my week long California vacation, I must have read a million travel articles. This was my second time going to Los Angeles in the past year--the first was a far-too-short weekend stay--so I wanted to do everything I didn't have a chance to the first time. From the most Instagrammable food spots to the hiking trails with the best views to the corners with the coolest street art to the museum exhibits I couldn't miss, my must-do list had to be a mile long. But when I got there, I let go of my expectations and spent a week going with the flow and enjoying the city with my best friends. So here's my list of things to do while in L.A. Use it to plan your next trip--or don't.
- Grab lunch or dinner at Simply Wholesome and order a smoothie with your meal. If you're lucky, you can catch some live reggae music on the patio while you wait.
- Head to Malibu and find a private beach. Strip down to your swimsuit and stop caring what anyone thinks. Get a tan. Walk along the shore. Take pictures.
- Dress up and go to The Edison on a Saturday night. The decor is dope, the people are cool and the DJ plays the best R&B music. Dance until your feet hurt.
- Eat lunch at Tender Greens in downtown Culver City and get the mint lemonade to drink. Catch a matinee at the Arclight across the street.
- Go to The Laugh Factory in Hollywood for #ChocolateSundaes. Come in with an open mind. Have a drink or two. Laugh really hard. Don't sit in the front.
- Get a booth at The Serving Spoon. There will be a long wait. Stay. The food is incredible and the staff is super friendly. Tip well.
- Spend a day exploring the Getty Museum. Start with the exhibits in the morning. Have lunch in the courtyard. Wander through the garden in the afternoon.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Hit up The Room in Hollywood on a Wednesday or Thursday and dance all night to old school hip-hop and '90s R&B. The DJ doesn't take requests.
- Go to Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. Order the Obama Special with a waffle and a side of greens. Pour some syrup on the chicken.
- Climb the Culver City Stairs just before nightfall. (Take your time. Those steps are no joke.) Take in the 360-degree view and watch the sun set over the city.
- Order takeout from Ayara Thai Cuisine. (I recommend the Ayara Fried Rice with Shrimp.) Then drive down the street to Randy's Donuts and get at least 4.
- Wake up early and get in the standby line at The Broad. Walk through every room. Look at every piece. Listen to a pop-up talk by the museum staff. (If you see a celebrity, smile and let them get on with their visit.)
- Start the day with Doughboy's Cafe's red velvet pancakes, then head to the LACMA to walk them off. Take a picture in the Urban Lights display.
- Hike up Runyon Canyon and get a good look at the Hollywood sign. Reward yourself for reaching the peak with bread pudding from Aroma Cafe in Studio City.
- After museum-hopping in DTLA, walk to KazuNori for some hand rolls. Finish with a cupcake from Big Man Bakes next door. The girls who work there are so sweet. (Pun intended.)
BONUS: If he seems friendly, chat with the elderly man sitting next to you on the plane ride home. He probably has some really cool stories to tell.
Did I leave something off my list? What are your L.A. Must-Dos? Let me know in the comments!