BEST WAY TO START THE DAY:
Meditate. It’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects in this city. In the absence of mindfulness, you risk losing hours, days or even yourself. I like to spend a few minutes in bed each morning with my eyes closed, focusing on my breath, and setting a clear intention for the day. I also recently discovered Unplug Meditation and am loving their classes.
BEST WAY TO RELAX AND UNWIND:
Break a sweat. L.A. is a driving city, which means it’s altogether too easy to be sedentary for most of the day. I’m a big fan of Pilates, SoulCycle and a place called ElliptiFit in West Los Angeles. There’s also a lot of great hiking here, but tend to I prefer the ocean. Walking on the beach or even just staring out at the Pacific reminds me how small we are in the greater scheme of things. That tends to be relaxing.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT FOR A CELEBRATION DINNER:
Blue Plate Oysterette. The original location is on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, and they recently opened another spot on 3rd Street in West Hollywood. Start with sparkling rosé and an ample selection of oysters. After that, order the Lobster Roll (undressed, with drawn butter) and the Catch of the Day, blackened, with a side of Coconut Rice and Black Bean Relish. Split both entrées with your dining partner and try to leave room for a Seasonal Fruit Crumble.
FAVORITE PLACE TO WATCH THE SUNSET FROM:
Palisades Park on the Westside, Griffith Park Observatory on the Eastside.
FAVORITE PLACES NEARBY FOR A DAY TRIP:
Ojai and Palm Springs.
FAVORITE BEACH IN LA:
People love Leo Carillo and El Matador, which are stunning but a bit far-flung. (If you do head up that way, stop for lunch at Neptune’s Net!) My favorite beach is the Ocean Park stretch of Santa Monica. It’s mellow and accessible. You can ride your bike there, spend a quiet day relaxing on the sand, be close to snacks and restrooms, and easily pop back into town so as not to make it a full day trip.
FAVORITE PLACE FOR ICE CREAM:
This is a tie between Sweet Rose Creamery and Salt & Straw. They both have incredible flavors and also delicious rice milk & coconut milk options for people like me who don’t eat dairy.
FAVORITE CAFE FOR COFFEE:
Caffe Luxxe is delightful. There are many fancy — er, intimidating? — coffee establishments in Los Angeles. I like a balance of quality and approachability. For this reason, Groundworks (various locations throughout the city) is another of my favorites.
Cora’s Coffee Shoppe. My husband swears by the Turkish Breakfast here. I like the Bruschetta Poached Eggs. Follow brunch with a leisurely walk on the beach. Honorable Mention goes to Milo & Olive. You can’t go wrong with their egg dishes and spectacular baked goods, and who doesn’t love an Italian Mimosa?
Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel is pretty special. The bar at Casa del Mar has an excellent beach view of the sunset. And if you’re looking for something totally different, book a room at Palm Tree Karaoke in Koreatown. Yes, they have a bar, but you’re really going for the singing and general awesomeness of the experience (to make a night of it, dine first at Commissary at the Line Hotel).
Olympic Spa one of many traditional Korean spas in Los Angeles. Schedule a body scrub, and you’ll gain access to the jade steam sauna, the detoxifying salt room, the hot “mugwort” tea pool, and more. Don’t expect: fancy robes, plush carpet, spa music. Do expect: no-frills efficiency, the best exfoliation of your life, being naked with a bunch of strangers. Don’t be shy. Go and you’ll leave feeling reborn. I promise.
NO TRIP TO LOS ANGELES IS COMPLETE WITHOUT:
1) Old Hollywood: drive into the hills to see the Hollywood sign. Sure, it’s just a bunch of letters on a hill, but it’s iconic and very cool.
2) Beach Culture: drive to the ocean to see the majesty of the Pacific Coast.
3) In & Out: order the off-menu Double Double Animal Style with fries.