10 Insider Tips on the Best Way to see Los Angeles Luxuriously
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The Super Bowl is in LA this year on February 13, and if you’re really lucky you may be headed that way soon for some fun and football. Or perhaps you’ve marked your calendar for Frieze L.A., one of the most electric art fairs on the 2022 calendar – it’ll run from February 17-20 at a new location in Beverly Hills. But even if you’re not there for the Big Game or to hunt for new contemporary art, Los Angeles is always an excellent idea. Here are what our friends have shared with us about their luxury insider tips on the best way to see Los Angeles and take a vacation trip to L.A. luxuriously right now.
while you’re in los angeles, here’s what the L.A. luxury insiders suggest you make time for
Heading for Los Angeles? Whether you’re planning a luxurious week-long stay (or more), or just blowing through town on a business trip with a couple of free hours to spare, there’s always something fantastic to do in LA.
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We asked our team of far-flung correspondents for their inside info on the best ways to have an authentic LA experience. It goes without saying that there are some iconic LA places that you need to see if you haven’t already: Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, and Disneyland.
But once you’ve done those, here’s our curated list of 10 ways to take a vacation trip to Los Angeles like an L.A. luxury insider.
10 L.A. Luxury Insider Tips on the Best Way to take a vacation trip to Los Angeles
1. Visit Robinson Gardens.
When philanthropist Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, it was revealed that she had willed her six-and-a-half-acre estate in Beverly Hills to the County of Los Angeles. The lovely spot, Robinson Gardens, has since been fully restored with the help of local leaders and donors.
While it’s a bit of an inside secret, it shouldn’t be. It’s magnificent. The third week of May is the annual Garden Tour – over 700 guests wear their best millinery, and leading fashion designers are paired with florists to decorate the home and its grounds. One year the theme was “The Art of Botanical Seduction.” We think that’s what this magical place is all about, all year long.
2. Get invited to an important fundraising event.
There are a handful of iconic fundraisers that are luxury must-dos in LA. There’s the Carousel Ball of Hope, held in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on a biennial basis (the event alternates between LA and Denver). Barbara Davis chairs, and past performers have included Beyoncé, Elton John, and Whitney Houston.
The Hammer Museum Gala in the Garden celebrates “artists, innovators, and icons.” Previous honorees include Frank Gehry, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Ava DuVernay and Kara Walker. A relative newcomer to the schedule that has proven to be hugely popular is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Art + Film” Gala. Previous honorees include Mark Bradford and George Lucas.
3. See a classic sports rivalry.
LA is blessed with multiple teams in some professional sports, and also with a plethora of talented college teams. Catching a game between two hometown teams will give you a glimpse of the real LA. You’ve got a couple of options. There’s the USC-UCLA football game — in America, there are many legendary college football rivalries. This one is LA’s. Every November the USC Trojans meet the UCLA Bruins. Or if basketball is more your thing, hit a LA Lakers-LA Clippers NBA match-up.
4. Hit the Arts District.
LA’s Downtown Arts District is rapidly becoming “the new Brooklyn” – the place for young, professional creative types to live, and for wealthier (and dare we say older) types to visit and hang out. Our LA insiders describe it as becoming “very chic” and recommend Boyle Heights, east of downtown and one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, as a place to get to know.
5. Have a cocktail at the Tower Bar – or the Chateau Marmont pool.
According to chic friends who live in Beverly Hills, the Tower Bar is a must-visit – it’s not a tourist trap, and it lives up to the hype. Located in the heart of the Strip in West Hollywood atop the Sunset Tower Hotel, the bar is “an old Hollywood classic” (the building was completed in 1929), but young Hollywood still loves it.
The outdoor patio has stunning views, and it’s a real scene, so dress to be scrutinized. Some still swear by the pool at the Chateau Marmont as the best place for a drink or a round of celebrity-spotting on the Strip – we say try both. And judge for yourself.
6. Take a drive out to Malibu.
Here’s your chance to travel a stretch of the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. And maybe stay there for a few days. There are several stylish new restaurants and hotels, and even the somewhat jaded locals are raving about them. The 17-room Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a minimalist, Japanese-style hideaway on Carbon Beach. Each room reportedly cost more than $1 million to outfit, with teak soaking tubs, Jerusalem limestone, shoji-screen walls, and cashmere robes.
At the same time, Nobu Malibu transitioned from its original location to a new beachfront property right next door. Views of the ocean are available from nearly every seat, and there’s also an outdoor patio.
SoHo House’s Little Beach House in Malibu has amazing food that’s served either in the dining room, the bar, the sitting room or the terrace.
7. Have Friday lunch in Beverly Hills.
What Sunday brunch is to New Yorkers, Friday lunch is to the denizens of Beverly Hills and the nearby vicinity. It’s a huge deal. There are a handful of spots where stylish people love to linger, people-watch and hold court, so take your pick. For example, there’s the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Or The Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (we highly recommend the smoked salmon pizza and a glass of champagne).We’re mourning the loss of two others that would have been on this list: Lisa Vanderpump’s Villa Blanca, which closed after 12 years in 2020. And Fred’s at Barneys. Moment of silence, please.
8. Take in the view at a rooftop bar.
For example, The Rooftop bar at the Waldorf Astoria. This Beverly Hills watering hole is an excellent place to check out. The view is spectacular, and the wrap-around terrace is unbeatable for soaking in that LA-fab vibe that you came here for.
9. Visit a museum . . . or three or four.
LA is blessed with some incredible contemporary art museums, and it’s a joy to wander through any one of the following. The Broad (home of Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of 2,000 post-war works). The LACMA (you’ll recognize Chris Burden’s iconic entrance installation Urban Light, a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around LA – it’s been on Instagram about 100 million gazillion times).
The magnificent hilltop Getty Museum with its lovely gardens. And the Hammer Museum (now a part of UCLA, and known for its photography and design exhibitions). And if you or your companions love cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a must.
10. Shop some only-in-LA retail stores, like Maxfield and Fred Segal.
If you want an authentic shopping experience in LA, think beyond Rodeo Drive. And make a pilgrimage to Maxfield. Our friend in Beverly Hills says that if you only make one shopping run, make it Maxfield on Melrose Avenue. As she aptly describes it, “it’s like a museum of clothes – except that you can buy them!” It’s an amazing store, and definitely worth a visit. There’s a location in Malibu, too – are you seeing a pattern here? We also love Fred Segal, which is an experience in people-watching as well as an strong dose of retail therapy.
Luxury Insider Tips on the Best Way to take a vacation trip to Los Angeles
There you have it. Ten great ways to play in La La Land. Have fun. And if you spontaneously break into song from time to time, we will totally understand. It happens.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
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Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. A Detroit native, she has 3 Harvard degrees and has written 3 mystery novels published by Simon & Schuster. After serving as a senior corporate executive, CEO of CNBC and partner at McKinsey, she now serves on the boards of several tech companies. She loves fashion, Paris, New York, books, contemporary art, running, skiing, coffee, Corgis and cats.