With a coastline rivaling the most beautiful in the world, weather typically less humid than many other big American cities, and tourist attractions like the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park Observatory, Sunset Blvd., the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, and more, Los Angeles and its immediate surroundings make for the perfect summertime getaway.
After you hit the beach or survive a canyon hike, make like a local in some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods from Silver Lake and Beverly Hills to ever-evolving downtown and Abbot Kinney. With cultural, culinary, comedy, shopping, nature-related, and sports offerings, LA has it all. Just don’t forget to give yourself extra time to allow for the city’s notorious traffic.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
New Summer Sleeps
Worthy new hotels include the boutique-y The Moment Hotel on Sunset Blvd. and Palihouse Santa Monica near the shop-and-café-filled Third Street Promenade, not far from the beach. Koreatown’s The Line Hotel is set to open in September and the Ace Hotel will come to downtown LA later this year.
But plenty of LA’s tried-and-true hotels are offering some solid perks to add to your summer adventures. Think the new Exhale Spa at the Loews Hollywood Hotel; the newly renovated pool and upgraded cabanas at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel; and beach-side activities like yoga, surf lessons, and bike rentals at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
Insider Tip: Skip down to Venice’s Hotel Erwin for a sunset cocktail amongst the locals at their perfectly placed rooftop bar.
Top Bites and Sips
Forget what you thought you knew about LA’s purported love of all things gluten-free, sugar-free, carb-free. Southern California knows how to eat and draws some of the world’s top toques.
For years, Ludovic Lefebvre was a pop-up-only roving chef with fried chicken so good, locals would follow him from the beach to the hills. He’s gone brick and mortar at his new 24-seat Trois Mec, where customers purchase $75 tickets two weeks in advance for a multi-course tasting menu.
More new eateries getting buzz? Michael Cimarusti’s new seafood hotspot Connie and Ted’s that opened in June; Tinga, a modern Mexican restaurant, opened this spring; and for drinks, Pour Vous is a Hollywood hotspot modeled as a Parisian cocktail lounge.
The 4th Annual LA Street Food Fest is basically an all-you-can-eat tasting event held at the lovely and enormous Rose Bowl.
dineLA’s Restaurant Week sees many of LA’s best restaurants—from Bouchon Beverly Hills and Lucques to the Lazy Ox Canteen and Pasadena’s POP Champagne and Dessert Bar—offering specially-priced menus for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Book early.
July 16, 5-9 pm
The Taste of Farmers Market is "roving taste feast" from the iconic market’s many vendors. Located next door to The Grove, the market is home to some long-standing icons to newer spots like Mexican favorite Loteria Grill.
Third Saturdays (July 20, August 17. 5 pm-midnight)
Dubbed as "Part food event, part summer party," Chinatown Summer Nights offers a chance to taste the neighborhood’s many culinary offerings as well as LA’s gourmet food trucks. Enjoy cooking demos, outdoor video projections, and Chinese cultural activities.
August 30 – September 1
Los Angeles Times’ THE TASTE Food Festival offers food, drinks, and demos from the city’s best chefs, mixologists, and more. The five day event, with such activities as Field to Fork, Flavor of LA, and a Labor Day Block Party, is held at Paramount Pictures Studios, $50-$65.
Immerse Yourself in Art and Culture
Through June 30… Hurry!
Catch the last of the fantastic and extensive Stanley Kubrick Exhibit at LACMA.
Through April, 2014
If you miss the Stanley Kubrick exhibit, there are still endless reasons to make it to LACMA, namely James Turrell: A Retrospective, which is on view in the Renzo Piano-designed contemporary museum building.
Through September 16
Head downtown to scope out the undulating architecture of Walt Disney Music Hall before making your way to MOCA for the New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture From Southern California at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA nearby in Little Tokyo.
Now in its 8th season, the Los Angeles Ballet will perform LA’s Rite: Stravinsky, Innovation, and Dance this July outdoors in Grand Park, which will feature pieces choreographed by George Balanchine and set to the music of Igor Stravinsky. Bonus? It’s free!
Music Under the Stars
The Hollywood Bowl’s summer concert series is consistently one of the best and most varied in the city. Plus you get to listen to your favorite artists under the stars and with a picnic of your choosing. This summer will see the likes of Aerosmith, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson and Earth Wine & Fire, and the LA Philharmonic with Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. It’s also a fantastic place to celebrate Independence Day, with their July 4th Hollywood Spectacular. This year’s features Josh Groban.
Another summertime favorite is the Greek Theatre, tucked away in the hills in Griffith Park. This year’s summer acts include Chicago, the Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Carly Rae Jepsen, and The Lumineers.
Saturdays, July 11 – September 12
On the other side of town, you’ll find the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series, a calendar of free concerts on the pier. Look down at the beach just below the pier to find locals set up with blankets and food, listening with the lit up Ferris Wheel in the background.
Through Labor Day weekend, 6-9 pm
The Getty Center’s Saturdays off the 405 are billed as a series of free (though parking is $15) open-air, musical happenings featuring local bands and DJs. While there, you can visit the exhibits, gape at the gorgeous sunset, and try out the on-site restaurant.
Photo credits: The Moment Hotel courtesy of The Moment Hotel; Connie and Ted’s courtesy of Connie and Ted’s; A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). Stanley Kubrick on set during the filming. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; Hollywood Bowl courtesy of Flickr/vxla