I may reside in New York City, but Los Angeles is the place I call home. I was born in South L.A. and raised just north of the Valley, and I'm excited to share a few of my favorite things that make this city special. If you've never been before, you should know that L.A. is huge. There are corners of the city I have yet to explore, so curating the perfect list of how to spend 48 hours there was a difficult task, to say the least. It's a multicultural metropolis filled with incredible cuisines, museums, history, and activities, but when I'm pinched for time, there are a few hits I turn to. Below, you'll find my top restaurants and free(ish) activities. Plus, I'm revealing my go-to hotel that everyone needs to stay in. I wouldn't write a story like this without sharing what to pack, so you'll also find some of my favorite L.A.–approved fashion items and travel essentials. Keep scrolling for my guide to Los Angeles.
There's an overwhelming amount of stellar food to try in Los Angeles, but every time I'm home, I go out of my way to hit these five spots. At number one, we have Bottega Louie, a little taste of Paris. It has a great brunch and even better macaroon cookies. (Get a box of 10 to go.) Number two is Evan Funke's Mother Wolf, an Italian spot in the heart of Hollywood that transports you to Italy. If the squash blossoms are on the menu, you must order them. Jon & Vinny's comes in at number three. It's an L.A. institution with a delicious menu and an even better vibe. There's no better place to eat spaghetti limone while listening to Kendrick Lamar. At number four, we have my favorite burger in the city, The Window. Sorry, In-n-Out, but this smashburger reigns supreme. Finally, we have the bagels that tested my loyalty to NYC. Layla in Ocean Park is serving up the freshest sourdough bagels I've ever tried. My go-to order is a sesame bagel with herb cream cheese and heirloom tomato. It's simply divine.
Where you stay in Los Angeles can dictate your entire itinerary, so my recommendation is always somewhere centrally located like the Fairmont Century Plaza. I much prefer a hotel to an Airbnb for many reasons, but the experience at the Fairmont is exactly why I choose it every time. The staff is kind, the interior design is perfection, and the rooms are so cozy and comfortable. Not to mention, it's located just steps away from Westfield Century City, which is home to great outdoor shopping and yummy restaurants including Din Tai Fung.
L.A. is home to incredible museums and tourist attractions. The Getty Villa and Warner Bros. Studio Tour are two of my favorites, but if you're looking for free(ish) activities, I've got you covered. This may be an obvious choice, but the beach is my favorite place to be year-round. During the colder months, grab a blanket and pizza for a cozy picnic with a view. Or in true L.A. fashion, head out to a hiking trail. For the best shopping, Melrose Avenue has all the buzzy brands and a great flea market every Sunday (Melrose Trading Post). Last but not least, I love to walk around Venice (but not the boardwalk). Take a stroll through the Venice Canals or Abbot Kinney Blvd for even more shopping.
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Natalie Gray Herder is an editor on the branded content team at Who What Wear and Marie Claire. Originally from Los Angeles, Natalie decided to make the move to NYC after graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 2019. She had plans of applying to law school until doing a 180 to follow her more creative passions: writing and fashion. She is an avid researcher, reader, and explorer in and out of the office. She is inspired by the street style of her fellow New Yorkers and her laid-back roots in California.
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