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How to Vacation Like a Local in Los Angeles

The voice behind Love & Loathing LA and founder of Best Coast Beverages, Caroline Juen shares her favorite spots in the city.

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Griffith Observatory at dusk

Ready to vacation like a true Angeleno? Caroline Juen is a longtime resident who rose to fame after creating her blog, Love and Loathing LA. Since then, she founded a line of canned wines called Best Coast Beverages as she continues to recommend the best places to eat, drink, and stay in the city. Get ready for a local experience when you follow her guide to curating the ultimate vacation in Los Angeles.

Where to stay

The Ingalls

Hotel Per La’s pool

Courtesy of The Ingalls

The Hollywood Roosevelt is a timeless choice that puts you right in the heart of Hollywood history. Perfect for lounging with a cocktail in hand during warmer months, the hotel’s epic pool complements its restaurant, Shirley Brasserie, with a raw bar and French-influenced menu for dinner and Sunday brunch.

Also located in Hollywood, the Prospect Hotel is a central option, designed by Martyn Bullard, and one of Juen’s “absolute favorite boutique hotels in town.” She says, “It is small, cozy, and offers a true ‘Old Hollywood’ glam feel.” Each room also offers a different theme, making it fun for groups or couples celebrating something special like a birthday or bachelorette.

Silver Lake Pool & Inn is on the east side of LA in the Silver Lake area, home to tasty places to eat, boutiques, and nightlife. Between the retro decor, epic pool with views of the Griffith Observatory, and walkable location, it’s no wonder that locals and visitors alike flock to this property. This urban oasis also has an onsite restaurant called Marco Polo, which serves Italian cuisine in a poolside setting.

Of the many hotels downtown, Hotel Per La is the “Goldie Locks’’ destination. This property truly has it all—and for less than you might expect. Located in a landmarked former bank building, the decor and amenities are utterly cozy and picture-perfect. Other highlights include the rooftop pool and Ristorante Per L’Ora, which channels the Italian coast.

The Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City, in easy reach of many major attractions, pairs style and comfort with a quintessentially LA experience. Originally opened in 1966, the hotel’s remarkable history includes multiple presidents and stars as guests, and it was renovated as part of a $2.5 billion transformation of Century Plaza. Between the location, storied past, wonderful restaurants, fabulous rooms, and one of the largest and best spas in the city, it always makes for a relaxing stay.

“When Angelenos are looking to do a staycation, The Surfrider Malibu is where we go,” says Juen. “It’s hip, serene, right near the beach, and just far enough outside the hustle and bustle to feel like an escape.” The best part of this Malibu gem is the private rooftop bar and restaurant, exclusive to hotel guests.

Where to eat

Los Angeles Tourism

Bacari Silver Lake

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

Located on one of the buzziest streets in East LA, Checker Hall is a Highland Park fixture that’s always busy and full of locals, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Martyn Bullard recently redesigned this space as a more vintage-style, dimly lit destination that boasts a large bar. You can easily savor a full meal or it’s excellent for cocktails and bites before a night out.

“LA loves our Bacari’s, but Bacari Silver Lake is the jewel,” says Juen. Bacari is known for its sharable tapas-style dining. With a variety of dishes to choose from, everything is delicious, but the Silver Lake location’s enchanting atmosphere features different levels, all enveloped by greenery, candlelight, and cozy textures.

Coucou is a California-meets-French bistro in Venice. Opened in 2023, it’s already made quite an impression on the local dining scene, with some menu highlights being the Million Dollar Martini, elevated hot dog, and soft-serve sundae.

Looking for an excuse to drive down Pacific Coast Highway? Broad Street Oyster in Malibu embodies everything for which the Golden State is beloved. Between the ocean, breeze, sunshine, and lobster rolls, the restaurant is classic California. Dine on the spacious patio or take your food to go for a picnic on the beach.

Clark Street Diner, formerly Cafe 101, is a Los Angeles institution. Several movies have been filmed and written in this historic place and on any given day the restaurant still brims with young creative types and industry folk. Don’t skip their superb pastries.

Where to drink

Los Angeles Tourism

The Dresden’s dining room

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

Oriel is one of LA’s best lesser-known spots. Pink neon lights light up this modern wine bar located under a freeway in Chinatown. Go for a glass of wine and casual French fare—consider their great happy hour that runs from 4:30–6 p.m.

Considered a local landmark, The Dresden Restaurant and Lounge in Los Feliz is an icon that’s been around since 1954. The lounge features live jazz nightly, but most importantly, The Dresden boasts a truly fantastic cocktail program. It has that authentic Hollywood “vibe” that even longtime locals crave.

In Glassell Park, Capri Club is one of the city’s hottest new cocktail bars. Along with incredible cocktails (including Negronis), you’ll find Amaro galore, red vinyl booths, European-style outdoor seating, and mouthwatering Italian snacks. “If you’re looking for the best lasagna in town, be sure to drop into Capri Club on a Monday,” says Juen.

Take a trip back in time at The Spare Room. Located inside the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it’s a wonderful place to play and sip on classic cocktails in a polished, throwback setting. Choose among the ample board games and card games at your disposal and, should you fancy a round of bowling, you can book one of their two vintage bowling lanes.

“In my opinion, Lolo Wine Bar is one of the coolest wine bars in the city,” says Juen. “I walk in here and want to take a million pictures or get proposed to…or both.” Between the checkered floor, candle-lit lighting, small plates, and natural wine selection, Lolo is a love letter to wine connoisseurs.

Where to hike


Elysian Park

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

Prefer ocean views over city views? Zuma Canyon Ocean View Trail is located deep in Malibu, but it’s well worth the drive. It is a relatively easy trail to walk, and you can also turn it into a full loop should you choose.

For something like Runyon Canyon without the crowds, take one of the trails in Griffith Park. It’s still located at the city center and still gets relatively busy, but there are a lot more trail options and different views. One trail even leads you near the iconic Hollywood sign.

Elysian Park is one of the more quiet and urban hikes in town. The Elysian Park West Loop is around 2.4 miles and ideal for catching epic views of DTLA, getting a quick walk in, or enjoying some exercise with your pup.

If there’s one outdoor area where all LA residents come together to get a good leg-focused workout, it’s at the “Culver City Stairs” (aka the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook). The stairs are no joke and your reward is the gorgeous 360-degree view of Los Angeles. There are also plenty of surrounding trails if you decide to veer off course.

What to see and do

Los Angeles Tourism

Highland Park Bowl

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

Built in 1927, Highland Park Bowl is LA’s oldest bowling alley and one of the city’s most popular hangouts today. Some of the most stunning, refurbished vintage bowling lanes you’ll find anywhere complement a full bar and lounge along with a craft pizza menu. If you’re traveling with a group, this is one of the best activities to put on your list.

What’s more wholesome than taking a ride on a swan-shaped pedal boat? Since the odds of nice weather tend to be in your favor in LA, Echo Park Lake is a pleasant way to spend time outside and take in the local scene. Follow it with a picnic in the park or explore Echo Park Boulevard and discover your new favorite bar or coffee shop.

Los Angeles Tourism

Rooftop Cinema Club

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

“If there’s one mandatory LA activity, it’s experiencing an outdoor movie screening,” says Juen. “They’re offered pretty much year-round and there are a variety of hosts.” The most popular is Cinespia, which hosts screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Other options include Street Food Cinema, Rooftop Cinema Club, and Melrose Rooftop Theatre.

Los Angeles Tourism

The Last Bookstore

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

The Last Bookstore is truly the last of its kind. Whether you consider yourself a bookworm or not, visiting is an enchanting and awe-inspiring experience. Located in a building that’s more than 100 years old, it features a multilevel, 22,000-square-foot space filled with books, records, art, installations, and more.

Los Angeles Tourism

The Broad Museum

Courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism

LA has a plethora of terrific museums, but The Broad seems most representative of local culture. It showcases modern art in beautiful, modern architecture, and it’s one of the city’s newest museums. Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama is a must-see and, though entry is free, you’ll want to book your reservation ahead of time.

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