southern california art

Watch models strut their stuff at Fashion Week in Los Angeles. (Photo: Getty Images)

Los Angeles

SoCal Style: Where to Find the Best Art, Fashion, Music and Live Theater

Strategy goes into planning the ideal visit to Southern California. Heart yearning to experience the fashion scene? Arts? Culture? There’s a lot to embrace, from longtime favorites to newcomers making a statement. Here are some to include on itineraries for an unforgettable stay.


New York CityParisMilan. These global cities are known for their runways. Still, the catwalk heats up in Los Angeles in October, when the city’s biannual LA Fashion Week roster of designers, from Bishme Cromartie to Adolfo Sanchez and beyond, showcase their work.

Love Orange County (OC) designers like Kathleen Largent, Jonathan Jimenez and LyCass? This fall’s OC Fashion Week has concluded, but showrooms invite fashionistas to pop in for a look-see or fittings. Another option — reveling in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island’s offerings.

Not in one of these cities for their Fashion Week?s Get thee to Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue for couture and the latest styles from designers. Want to wear something decidedly Californian? Trina Turk’s color-popping styles speak to the Palm Springs Modernism scene. (She’s got two boutiques in that area alone, as well as in L.A.’s Larchmont Village and Manhattan Beach).

Celebs flock to Catwalk in the Fairfax District for vintage finds curated by Michelle Webb and Renee Johnston. Designs from several young L.A. designers busting out on the scene, namely Sonya Sombreuil, No Sesso and Justin Cole Smith, can be snapped up in Chinatown at Classic Hits.


Live music performances in SoCal seem to, happily, always be underway. The TroubadourRainbow Bar & GrillThe Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go have been keeping Hollywood’s Sunset Strip rocking for decades, proving rock-and-roll is, yes, timeless.

Covering vast L.A. terrain are 17 music venues under The Echo’s banner, including stages from the Echoplex to Moca Music and the Santa Monica Pier. Also luring listeners are the performances at The Wiltern and The Theatre at Ace Hotel. Catch larger concert events at The ForumL.A. Live and Microsoft Theater.

southern california art
Get into the groove at Echoplex. (Photo: Getty Images)

Classical more your thing? The Walt Disney Concert Hall waits to stun with both its Frank Gehry–designed architecture and the resident talents of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale. Nearby, the Colburn School hosts world-renowned performers, including those who’ve come through the school’s music and dance programs.

Blues, jazz, country, hip-hop and Latin beats all abound in the southland. Often, stumbling upon a performance in a neighborhood haunt (The Baked Potato in Studio City, Tumbleweeds in Huntington Beach, Belly Up Tavern in San Diego County’s Solano Beach, The Mint on Pico Boulevard, Kibitz Room in Canter’s Deli, and Genghis Cohen, in the Fairfax District, not to mention San Juan Capistrano’s The Coach House Concert Hall) introduces visitors to the SoCal music scene’s up and comers.

A must for music fans — visiting Carlsbad’s Museum of Making Music and Downtown Los Angeles’ (DTLA) Grammy Museum in DTLA, which pays homage to all the music greats.


Art in L.A. is both to be experienced and an experience unto itself. There’s a long list of museums with outstanding art, be it classic, modern or urban, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)The BroadThe Getty and the Hammer Museum.

southern california art
Enjoy an art fix at the Getty Museum. (Photo: Getty Images)

Beyond museums, check out the burgeoning talent found in the Arts District. From pop-up galleries to artisans with shopfronts, there’s much here to discover. An event to catch the second Thursday of each month is the DTLA Art Walk.

Twelve blocks come alive with galleries and artist studios staying open late for the self-guided art walk, which feels like a street party of sorts with cultural events and live performances keeping the energy moving right along Spring and Main streets.

As for street art, it delights from every turn in Southern California. Highly suggested is touring the murals from Long Beach’s annual Pow! Wow! event. This international mural festival typically brings new masterpieces to the city each July.

You’ll find 40 square miles — from South Street to Ocean Boulevard — of public street art that can be taken in by car, bike or merely walking.

An idyllic place to watch plein air artists practice their craft is Laguna Beach. You’ll catch them along the rugged shoreline capturing landscapes. Finished works from artisans of various mediums are displayed in Laguna Beach’s bevy of galleries and at events including the beloved Sawdust Festival.

Live Theater

What theatergoers are buzzing about recently is the Music Center’s new “Plaza for All,” unveiled after a 20-month, $41 million renovation.

It’s just one more way this arts enclave — the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Grand Park, Disney Concert Hall — embodies a communal experience.

southern california art
Have a full sensory experience at Abernathy’s. (Shirley Chung)

All the senses are engaged: Beginning pre-performance, dinner at Abernethy’s brings with it the opportunity to experience stellar area chefs every three months with its revolving lineup of talent and menus. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s Oval Bar is perfect during intermission, where art — notably Thomas Hardy’s Sun Birds sculpture and a Frank Stella painting — can be admired over cocktails

Other major venues include Geffen PlayhouseThe Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, the Hollywood PantagesSegerstrom Center for the Arts and Irvine Barclay Theatre.

Oh, and then there are the all the wonderful smaller theaters, from Stella Adler to Theatre West. Yes, Southern California wants to keep visitors entertained. And that deserves a round of applause.

Travel south to take in some Shakespeare at San Diego’s Old Globe. An annual event unlike any other to plan ahead for is Laguna Beach’s Pageant of the Masters for tableaux vivants (living pictures). The theme planned for 2020’s performance: the apropos “Made in America.”