I’ve often heard Los Angeles referred to as a cultural wasteland, but I beg to differ. LA has a pink and green color palette, plentiful art galleries and museums, gardens ripe for nature walks, and a dark magic all its own. I seem to gravitate towards California Girls – my Aunt Laura who lives in San Diego, Francesca Lia Block, a set of engaging, eclectic twins from Pasadena in college, Eve Babitz, and finally, my best friend Dominique, who is a Jersey Girl by birth and a California Girl by choice.
I’m continually enchanted by Los Angeles’ sunsets, beaches, bougie boutiques, Instagrammable eateries, and witchy underpinnings. If you want to get a sense of the synergy between commercial glamor and Old Hollywood maleficence that makes up LA, I recommend reading Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block – it’s a story of the city itself as anthropomorphized into a teenaged dilettante. I would also recommend exploring the work of Eve Babitz, a socialite living during the 1970s, whose works earnestly explore the City of Angels’ cultural capital.
My childhood trips to Los Angeles began with Disneyland, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills (I spent the entirety of my savings on a magenta Miu Miu wristlet on Rodeo Drive in 2006). My college trips consisted of drinking on the beach and smoking in traffic whilst en route to various house parties. A post-grad trip to LA with my mother included a visit to the Farmers Market, overpriced cocktails at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and a sugar rush return to Disneyland.
I now visit Los Angeles about twice a year and each time have had the great fortune of being hosted by Dominique and her ragdoll Ozzy. Dominique has a keen eye for interior design and has cultivated girly and mid-century modern aesthetics in both Hollywood and Venice (she always paints her walls and serves snacks and drinks in depression glass coupes and vintage Pyrex). We spend our days facebeating, shopping, and examining epitaphs at iconic cemeteries. We’ll get dolled up for anything – be it a Dita von Teese burlesque show at The Orpheum, a Malibu picnic, or a trip to Starbucks for chai tea lattes. Like Weetzie, Dominique is Los Angeles anthropomorphized – she’s dark, brilliant, and seriously committed to glamor.
On my most recent trip to Los Angeles, we visited:
- Bottega Louie: I visited their West Hollywood location on the recommendation of photographer Cassidy Bliss Cooper for pastel macarons and a glass of wine
- The Pendry: a West Hollywood boutique hotel with a rooftop bar that was perfect for cocktails and tempura veggies (recommended by Eva)
- The Rainbow Bar and Grill: an institutional rock n’ roll haunt on the Sunset Strip with red pleather booths and lots of dark wood
- Tartine: a brunch spot in Santa Monica that resembles a monastery and serves quintessentially Californian fare including healthy breakfasts and decadent pastries (another CBC recommendation)
- Organic Milk Bar – an Instagrammable ice cream shop that serves matcha and taro soft serve in the most ornately sprinked cones
- Chunky Paper: an Asian graphics boutique in Chinatown where I bought postcards and a lemon jelly roll candle
- Ri-Ri-Ku – a well-curated pastel gift shop filled with perfumes, antiques, and the most magnificent candles
- The Huntington Library – a gorgeous and sprawling ground with an art museum and botanical garden in Pasadena (make reservations before you go – it can get quite crowded, even on a weekday)
- The Tower Bar – a no photos allowed, darkly lit bar with excellent espresso and chocolate martinis at the Sunset Tower Hotel
- June Shine – the cutest, most Venice kombucha bar a girl could stumble upon (in truth, it had been on Dominique’s list). Perfect for a hard kombucha flight and a light snack
- Erewhon – a supermarket chain that makes Whole Foods seem affordable
- Magnolia Boulevard – a lovely shopping spot dotted with antique and retro-style stores in the suburb of Burbank (my favorite shops included Michline Pitt, Playclothes, and Besame Cosmetics)
- Echo Park – a hipster picnic spot with a small lake where you can ride swan boats in central Los Angeles