LA is a place that feels like an insta-wonderland as the city consists of countless outdoor murals, beautifully designed interiors, great beaches, rolling hills, palm trees that stretch across the horizon and blue skies to provide the perfect backdrop for your endless selfies opportunities.
These days, I get a lot of travel inspiration on Instagram — from shots of drool-worthy food to dreamy beaches that show up on my feed, I save a lot of photos and look at them again when I’m looking for my next travel destination. This inspired me to create a new series of city guides that consist of amazing experiences that also help to capture the essence of a city.
I’ve decided to start this series off with LA, my favourite city on the West Coast. While there are insta-worthy photo opportunities on almost every corner in LA, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 15 favourite things to do, eat and drink in LA… that also just happen to make for an epic shot!
Eat & Drink
1. Milk Bar
The cereal milk soft serve with cornflakes is hands down one of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted in life. I loved going to Milk Bar when I was in NYC, so these days living in California, whenever I’m in LA, the Milk Bar on Melrose is always a required stop.
2. The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker
Brunch places can be a dime in a dozen in LA, but if you’re looking for some bomb eggs benedict, look no further than The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker on the Sunset Strip. It’s a popular spot so I recommend making a reservation online. They also make a gorgeous colourburst latte, which will probably be the most expensive — albeit prettiest — latte you’ll ever have.
3. Petite Trois
When you think French restaurants, cheeseburgers may not come to mind, but this spot serves one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Rightfully dubbed the Big Mec Double Cheeseburger, every bite is a juicy concoction of brioche, beef, cheese and foie gras-infused red wine Bordelaise. Now that’s a burger worthy of the ‘gram!
The eating experience is also pretty unique, as it’s set up counter style (you won’t find any tables here!), with a view of the open kitchen, and a sprinkling of Brigitte Bardot photos around the cozy restaurant.
4. Bluestone Lane
Bluestone Lane is an Australian-inspired cafe that can be found in key cities across the US, but the “flower shop” location in West Hollywood is one of the most gorgeous cafes I’ve ever been to! It actually did used to be a flower shop, and the flowers on the building’s exterior was painted by artist Madeline Simson. The interior decor is gorgeous as well!
5. Acai Bowls
Acai bowls in LA are quite popular, especially by the beach. There’s nothing better than spending a hot day on the beach with a delicious and healthy snack! This one is from Cow’s End Cafe in Venice Beach.
6. High Tide
There’s some really cool bars in DTLA, and High Tide is definitely one of my favourites. Appropriately located in the Arts District, it’s a millennial pink wonderland with a trippy art gallery at the front, whimsical flamingos on the walls, and there’s even a patio where you can watch a professional glass blower work his magic in his studio!
7. The Standard
There’s no better way to end a night in LA with some drinks and this awesome view, brought to you by The Standard hotel in DTLA. There’s even a rooftop pool!
Things to do
8. Venice Canals
A few minutes away from Venice Beach, located right off 25th street, are the Venice Canals. It’s easy to overlook, and I had no idea it even existed when I went to LA for the first time! It’s an awesome place to go for a sunset walk. It would be difficult to take a bad photo of this place!
9. The Broad
Probably one of the best free things you can do in LA, soak in some art and culture at this contemporary art museum in DTLA. One of the most popular exhibits is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, however, there’s a separate queue for this that you can’t reserve for online. They only let a set amount of people in daily, so get to the museum early.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the museum in time to secure a coveted spot, but the rest of the museum is still filled with amazing art by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and more! The exterior of the museum is also worthy of a few snaps (see the header photo for this post).
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the western US, and one of my favourite art museums in the world. It’s easy to spend a day getting lost in all the exhibits ranging from ancient art to California graphic design.
If you only have time for a quick stop, the Urban Lights installation by Chris Burden (consisting of 202 vintage street lamps taken from 17 different cities and towns in southern California) is a must for your LA insta album. Best of all, while the museum costs $25, this installation is always free to check out!
11. The Bradbury Building
Of course LA would have an award for “prettiest building,” and it’s unsurprising that the Bradbury building has been the recipient of this award many times. It is the oldest commercial building in DTLA and you might remember it from movies such as the original Blade Runner, and (500) Days of Summer.
12. Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo is not just a place to get your sushi, ramen and matcha fix — go for a walk around this neighborhood and you’ll stumble upon some awesome gems! This lit up hallway is one such example. Sadly I don’t quite recall where it is, but getting lost is all part of the fun right?
13. The Last Bookstore
Probably one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever been to, and in standard LA-style, it is also an endless source of rad photo opportunities. Housed in what used to be a bank, it is California’s largest bookstore filled with new and used books, and bookishly whimsical and totally instagrammable sculptures such as the famous book tunnel and secret reading nooks.
Sadly, their website displays a bleak message, stating “What are you waiting for? We won’t be around forever.” Please, let’s keep independant bookstores such as this in existence by buying books from these shops (or at the very least from Barnes and Noble). I haven’t bought a single book from Amazon in years.
14. Runy0n Canyon
Also known as a popular place for an “LA hike,” Runyon Canyon is a pretty easy hike that boosts great views of Hollywood. Also on this hike, you’ll surely see the most fit people in your life — guys with six-packs walking around topless, and girls in sports bras. Come for the sweeping views, and save that Big Mec from Petit Trois for after your hike.
15. Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion is one of the original millionaire mansions located in Beverly Hills. It’s free to visit and driving up to this place will make you feel like you’re off to attend a fabulous LA party. And while that may not be the case (although your friends don’t have to know that), the amazing architecture, garden, and million dollar views of the city is totally worth it to this underrated spot. Tons of movies and TV shows were shot here as well such as the Gilmore Girls, The Social Network and X-men (2000).
And that concludes my top 15 places to check out in LA! What are some of your favourite spots in the city?