what to do in la

Enjoy the sweet life in L.A. (Photo: Courtesy of Café Dulcé | Michelle Park Photography)

Los Angeles

Think You Know L.A.? The City of Angels Still Has Secrets Up Its Sleeve

The City of Angels. A place where dreams go to thrive and you go to live your best life. Los Angeles has an impeccable reputation that lies deep in the roots of Hollywood – offering itself as a place where those who want to be someone, try to become that someone.

But some of us simply want to dip our toes into the pool of paradise that is this city, and that’s just fine. You don’t need to stay long to appreciate everything this city has to offer.

From Silver Lake to West Hollywood, Downtown to Beverly Hills, there is so much ground to cover. You know that you have to visit Santa Monica and Venice Beach, and you can’t forget to take a hike up Runyon Canyon Park.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. We’re giving you a peek into local spots that are void of tourists. Living like a local is the best way to experience LA, and here’s your guide to living you your best life in the City of Angels.


The Last Bookstore

“What are you waiting for? We won’t be here forever.” The Last Bookstore is the slogan of one of LA’s most beloved bookstores, and to be honest, it’s romance in its truest form. Here, you can get lost in the pages of your favorite authors or sift through records from decades ago.

What truly makes this place – California’s largest used and new book and record store – stand out is its labyrinth-style book tunnel, color-coordinated shelves and rad art that’s made from books.


This bookstore on Fairfax is hip in every single way. It’s not like a regular bookstore, it’s a cool bookstore. For one, it’s super stylish and simple. It carries a vast collection of artsy books, novels, zines, prints and t-shirts that you can rock long after your LA vacation is over.

Book Soup

Head to the neighborhood of WeHo and get wrapped up in a good story at Book Soup. This independent bookstore is a stop for readers, writers and rock-n-rollers alike. You can find over 60,000 titles that cover art, film, literary fiction and so much more. There’s truly something for everyone, even the weirdos. Stop by to pick out your next favorite book or talk with the booksellers to learn a little something you didn’t know before.

Diesel, A Bookstore

Nestled in the neighborhood of Brentwood is the independently owned bookstore of your dreams. It’s got a cool California aesthetic that beams from wall to wall, perfect for one of those casual “look at what I am reading” poses for your latest Instagram post.

This establishment has one heck of an author-visit roster, a fascinating collection of titles and a staff that makes you just want to hang out in there all day.

Vroman’s Bookstore

This place is special. It’s Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. This library of books has been around since 1894, so you know the inventory is unreal.

It also holds world-class author signings and events so check the event calendar before your trip. From Joan Didion to David Sedaris and President Jimmy Carter, this place has seen more people and heard more stories than any book could ever tell.


Coffee Commissary

This laidback shop will fill your cup of coffee dreams to the brim. You can stop here for breakfast burritos, baked goods and espresso crafted by Coava Coffee in Portland.

With just one look at their Instagram, you’ll see things we didn’t know were possible such as Mint Julep Lattes, donuts with lemon glaze and matcha dust that will make you wonder: What diet? I don’t have one of those in LA.

Café Dulcé

Located in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles is a place that meticulously experiments with creative donuts and hand-tossed kale salad. But most importantly, Café Dulcé offers a unique roster of coffee roasters from around the world. If coffee isn’t your thing (are you okay?), you can get your fix from the matcha bar.

Things like Cha Cha Matcha and Blueberry Matcha Latte are available for your sipping pleasure. Back to coffee, try the Hong Kong Milk Tea Latte or Rose Milk Tea Latte. We’ve only heard good things, obviously.

Café Midi

The only downside to Café Midi is that it’s attached to American Rag and Maison Midi – shops stocked with things you don’t need but must have – and is that really a problem?

This French-style café offers outdoor seating so you can soak up all of Los Angeles while you enjoy a quiche with your cup of jo. Sound fancy? No, it’s just you living your best life.

Dinosaur Coffee

This coffee spot has all the minimalist vibes you could ever need. When you stroll into this shop on Sunset, you’ll find yourself greeted with dinosaur figurines and plants that drape over walls lined with coffee grounds, coffee mugs and cute things you simply can’t live without.

The best part: there’s a neon sign that will look really good photographed on your Instagram page. What does it say? You’ll have to go to find out.

Rubies + Diamonds

This java joint wants you to know that they are – hashtag – not a jewelry store. They may not be rich in diamonds but they do serve up rich coffee and teas brewed with nitrogen infusions.

They even have a Nitro Creamy Matcha Tea with Mother Moo ice cream. Sounds like this is the perfect place to fuel up on some energy during a day exploring Los Angeles.


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Chances are you’ve seen the Urban Lights by Chris Burden that stand tall outside of this museum. But there’s more to the LACMA than what meets the eye. Located on Wilshire Boulevard, the LACMA is the largest art museum in the Western United States and an encyclopedic museum that collects and exhibits artworks across time and culture.

Museum of Illusions

what to do in la
Find the illusion. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s fun to marvel at impressive art, but what if you could be a part of it? At the Museum of Illusions, you can reenact death-defying scenes of walking across the windows of a skyscraper or running from an accident gone wrong.

This place is full of optical illusions, so you can become the daredevil you’ve always dreamed of being. Eat dinner upside down, slide down an elephant’s trunk and pretend to sing alongside your favorite musicians.

The Broad

This contemporary art museum is located in downtown LA and is free to the public, perfect if you’ve already spent most of your travel budget. The Broad houses 2,000 works by more than 200 artists, making it one of the most influential museums worldwide in postwar and contemporary art.

Stop by and take note of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons and more.

Griffith Observatory

Visiting the Griffith Observatory can count as two different activities. You can park a little lower to hike up so you can spend more time appreciating LA’s cityscape. Once you’re at the observatory, explore the cosmos through telescopes, get lost in astronomical exhibits and be overwhelmed by the beauty of Los Angeles.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Also known as the MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art has been around since the 1970’s and gives residents and LA visitors an opportunity to be surrounded by 7,000 objects of art that feature a diverse history of groundbreaking exhibitions.

With rotating exhibitions, you never know what to expect when you stop by this museum – and isn’t that the beauty of it?


Melrose Trading Post

It’s back to school! Just kidding – sort of. At Fairfax High School, they’ve got a flea market on Sundays that’s stocked with an abundance of cool inventory including racks of vintage items and collections of unique home goods.

As if you needed an incentive to shop, when you snag something new, you are also giving back to the youth and education at Fairfax High School.

Zebulon Bazaar

Zebulon by night operates as a bar and venue that offers a lively music scene, movie screenings and drinks for everyone. But by day, Zebulon turns into a market filled to the brim with all things undiscovered.

Grab trinkets, accessories for your personal style and sift through cool vintage finds not found anywhere else. Oh yeah, and they also serve brunch. Spending your weekend here is a no brainer.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

If you happen to find yourself in Los Angeles on the second Sunday of the month, you’re going to want to head to the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

You can snack on food and drinks – both alcoholic and not – while you rummage through some of LA’s best treasure chests. There’s no telling what you’re going to find at this flea market, but it’s definitely worth finding out.

Rodeo Drive

what to do in la
Shop your heart out. (Photo: Getty Images)

While this is of course a must, adding it to the list is for added emphasis. Rodeo Drive is sprinkled with designer shops from Chanel to Céline.

You can also find boutiques, food and if you’re just resting your feet, you’re bound to see an influx of some of the nicest, coolest cars in all of Beverly Hills. Don’t we all deserve a Pretty Woman moment?

Fashion District in Downtown LA

The Fashion District is perfect for shopping wholesale, buying clothing at a discounted price and features your independently owned retail shops.

If you’re looking to shop like a true Los Angeles resident, you’ll keep your ears plugged for a sample sale hosted by your favorite designer or clothing line – as they usually happen in the Fashion District.

While you’re shopping, you can also take your pick of low-key bars and restaurants that are stored in pockets of the district.


Black Hollywood

Run by two rad chicks, this place is crawling with cool vibes. This lacks the tourist vibe that some LA bars are infected with and offers guest bartenders such as Christina Applegate and a roster of professional skaters, guest DJs, movies and a large patio to enjoy the always-perfect LA weather. All cool kids welcome.

Kibitz Room at Canters

The Kibitz Room was built in 1961 as an addition to Canter’s Deli. The cocktail lounge is a haven for live music and superior cocktails.

You may have heard of small bands and musicians like The Doors and Frank Zappa – who knows – but these artists along with Joni Mitchell, Rick James and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have all come to hang, sing, wine and dine.

There’s always a jam session going on here, and you’re definitely going to want to be a part of it.

Saddle Ranch

Karaoke night, a mechanical bull, cheap drinks and cotton candy. Need we say more? That’s really all you need to know about Saddle Ranch. This West Coast rodeo is all about steaks, bulls and rock-n-roll, so you know it’s a good time.

They pride themselves on the concept of “rock meets western,” and for good reason. Whether you’ve seen this place on your favorite shows (Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives) or you’ve never heard of it before in your life, you’re going to want to make sure you pack your best boots and get to scootin’ on over to Saddle Ranch.

143 at The Echoplex

One thing Los Angelenos love more than anything is exclusivity. So, why not live like the LA folk do and head to this popular R&B party put on by Partytime, Siik and SOSUPERSAM.

143 at The Echoplex is a place where people come together to enjoy the best of R&B while taking a break from typical clubs and bars. The cool thing? You can keep the party going when you get back home. They have this event in a variety of cities so you can bring a little bit of LA home with you.

Tiki Ti

To put it simply, Tiki Ti serves up refreshing cocktails in Tiki cups – no sunscreen needed. What more of a description do you want? The local landmark loves a good tropical drink served in a room that’s embellished with Hawaiian décor.

In fact, they offer 94 tropical drinks that can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re adding this to your to-do list, can we come too?


TOI on Sunset

If good food and rock-n-roll are – I don’t know – sort of your thing, you’ll love this spot on the Sunset Strip. Munch on Panang dumplings, silver noodle soup and drunken noodles at TOI while surrounded by the relentless history of Hollywood’s music and movie scene. This legendary place, much like the Strip in 80’s, is not for the faint of heart.

Canters Deli

Surely this is not the first time you’ve seen someone suggest Canter’s Deli. A staple in the food scene, this restaurant has served over 2 million pounds of Lox and 10 million Matzo Balls – numbers that should be illegal. People have been cozying up in these booths after long nights in the early morning since 1931. The perfect blend of retro décor and house-made pickles makes this place a culinary vision.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles

You don’t have to go to the South to get a bit of soul food. This California-based restaurant has been around since 1975 – and for good reason. Roscoe’s offers chicken and waffles – sold both separately and together – as well as other traditional items.

But who would want that anyway? Celebrities have been filling the seats of this famous establishment for years ordering things like E-Z Ed’s Special, The Stubby and of course the Country Girl. Head to the original location in Hollywood for a plate full of Scoes’ finest.

Cactus Taqueria

You’ll leave this place saying: they just get me, you know? Skip the Chipotle line and get yourself a burrito or taco from this hidden gem and local joint. At Cactus Taqueria, you’re going to want to do yourself a favor and try lengua (beef tongue) if you haven’t already.

Head to Studio City to get your fix of the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. It’s also open a little later than most bars making it the perfect place to end the night.

Jones Hollywood

If you google this place it says, “hip hangout serving Italian” and that’s all you need to know. Jones Hollywood has all the retro any old-soul millennial can handle. Squeaky booths, red-checkered tablecloths and a bright neon sign all scream take a photo here, eat some pasta there!

Did we also mention there’s a happy hour Sunday through Thursday serving $6 pizzas and $5 cabernets? You can drink and eat until 2 a.m. Too much? No, that’s just Los Angeles for you.


Spire 73

73 stories high is an open-air spot with a lot to offer. At the top of the Wilshire Grand Center, the tallest building west of the Mississippi, lies an urban oasis with a rooftop pool, a refreshing drink menu and stunning views of the City of Angels.

Petit Ermitage

Located in West Hollywood is this unshakeable pillar of fun. Petit Ermitage offers a gorgeous pool, food for thought, a garden for when you need peace of mind and two bars that are ready to serve up some serious cocktails.

Pearl’s Rooftop

Another gem in West Hollywood, you really can’t go wrong with this tourist (yeah, we know) destination. Pearl’s is perfect if you find yourself on the Strip in search of somewhere to snag a quick a drink with breathtaking views. You can peek over the ledge to lurk over the heartbeat of the city that is the Sunset Strip.

Bo-Beau Kitchen and Roof Tap

Long Beach is not Los Angeles, and that’s quite alright because it has this place. Bo-Beau serves oysters, Sriracha butter chicken wings (we’re not drooling, you are), 50 craft beers on tap, a load of games, tables to enjoy your libations and grub at and of course, live music. The only thing missing? You.

This article was published through a partnership with Vacations by Marriott. Read the original story: Been There, Done That: A Guide to Los Angeles for the Hip Millennial on the blog.