Los Angeles is a vibrant city with more to do than you could get around to in a lifetime. Going to L.A. is practically a guaranteed good time, but it can be hard to navigate where to go and what to do while you’re there. Due to the city’s sprawling size, it’s a challenge to see all the sights when they might be an hour or more away from each other. However, one part of the city might be the answer to these issues: West L.A. On this side of L.A., you can see and do all the things you want to—the beach, shopping, bars, great food—with much less hassle. If you’re like me, and the thought of going on the 405 makes you break out in hives, then staying on the Westside is perfect for you. Keep reading for our guide to a wonderful week-long vacation in one of the most beautiful and underrated parts of Los Angeles.
- Monday: Manhattan Beach
To start your vacation off strong, go on down to Manhattan Beach. Situated between El Segundo and Hermosa Beach, Manhattan is one of the most poppin’ beach towns in L.A. Every day feels like paradise in Manhattan Beach. Except for parking in Manhattan Beach, which feels like hell. Make sure to leave early or be prepared to walk far from your car to the beach!
A smoothie bowl from Paradise Bowls is the best healthy choice for breakfast. Sweet and packed with fruit, you’ll be feeling good for the rest of the day. Then, head on over to the pristine beach. Manhattan Beach is perfect for laying out and soaking up the sun. Bring a speaker and some seltzers, and you’ll have a relaxing, chill day.
At sunset, walk the length of the pier. It sticks out so far into the ocean you’ll have an unbeatable view of a gorgeous, red California sunset. You can also check out the small aquarium, the Roundhouse Aquarium, which sits at the end of the pier for free.
The next stop to fill a growling stomach has to be Petro’s. You can sit outside or inside and have your fill on Greek food and drink. The service, atmosphere, and food will make for a great time.
To end this peaceful day, have a drink at Culture Brewing Co., where you can choose from a wide selection of craft beers brewed in Southern California. A day trip to Manhattan Beach will put you in a good mood and make you eager for the rest of your journey.
- Tuesday: Culver City
You can find Culver City a little more inland, a cute and exciting town between the coast and West Hollywood. Although small, there’s so much to do in Culver City, and it’s highly walkable. Great restaurants and shops are packed right up against each other, so there are great options no matter what you’re looking for.
Speaking of great options in a small space, check out Citizen Public Market right in the heart of downtown Culver. A public food hall, the market has many choices for everyone. Get a coffee at goodboybob, a slice to hit the spot at Pizzette, or be fancy and get oysters and other seafood at Jolly Oyster.
Once you get your food, take it to go and head to the Culver Steps. This is a beautifully designed outdoor public space where you can sit, shop, or play. The community feel of Culver City is palpable at the steps.
Lucky for you, located right next to the Culver Steps is something unique to Culver City: Sony Picture Studios. An on-site filming location, Sony Studios is constantly filming some of the biggest films and television series. Movies and shows such as Euphoria, Interstellar, Jeopardy, the Spider-Man series, and countless others were filmed at Sony in Culver City. If you want to see the behind-the-scenes of where your favorite movie was filmed, you can book a tour of the studios. A trip to Culver City can give you a glimpse into the Hollywood magic!
To end your evening, have dinner at City Tavern for some filling and classic American food to end your evening. Their spicy fried chicken sandwich is a must-try. Before you go, make sure to get ice cream at Salt & Straw. The line is worth the wait, I promise. With all this, Culver City is a necessary visit while you’re in L.A.
- Wednesday: Sawtelle Japantown
Near Westwood is Sawtelle, a neighborhood with a thriving Japanese population that has flourished into a Japantown. Here, you can find some of the best Asain food and markets in Los Angeles. To best experience, come to Sawtelle Japantown hungry and ready to eat!
A trip to Sawtelle Japantown would not be complete without a stop to get some bubble tea. If you’ve never tried it, now is the time to start. It’s refreshing iced fruit tea with balls made of tapioca. A drink and a snack all in one! Try Yin Fang for an assortment of delicious teas. Grab a banh mi at Nong Lá, a Vietnamese cafe for lunch.
Apart from the food, the best part of Sawtelle Japantown is its excellent Asain markets. These markets are affordable and stocked, full of snacks and knick-knacks from around the world. Daiso Japan, a chain of Japanese variety stores, has a location in Sawtelle. Here, you can buy houseware, makeup, toys, and more. Their prices are astoundingly low, usually ranging from $1-$10! Next door is Nijiya, another Japanese chain with Asain food you can’t find anywhere else.
As for dinner in Sawtelle Japantown, you really can’t go wrong. There are so many options from different countries around the world. Try a cuisine you’ve never had before, like Filipino food from Big Boi if you’re up for it. A personal favorite of mine is Tatsu Ramen, where a bowl of ramen feels like eating a hug. Eat your heart out in Sawtelle Japantown, and you won’t regret it!
- Thursday: El Segundo
Arguably the most unassuming location on this list, El Segundo is still worth the visit. Found just south of LAX, El Segundo is a small beachside town. It’s unique in that it preserves a small-town feel and charm while still existing in the Los Angeles metropolis. For a peaceful getaway, El Segundo is the obvious choice.
First, head to Blue Butterfly Coffee Co., a local favorite. Try their amazing iced lavender matcha, which is even better than it sounds. Important tip: El Segundo should be Thursday’s stop on your trip, as every Thursday, the town has a farmers market. Try fresh fruit, artisanal baked goods, and cheeses, and buy gifts or souvenirs to support the local vendors. There’s even live music! The lovely atmosphere of the El Segundo farmers market is undisputed.
For an unconventional destination, look out for the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA). Self-defined as an “art-laboratory,” ESMoA is a small contemporary art museum specializing in experimental exhibits. Although not one of the large, well-known museums in L.A., ESMoA will make a memorable visit. Admission is also free, so it can’t hurt to try!
Suppose you get tired, head over to Library Park, where you can stroll around the greens or read in the sun. This is the perfect place to recharge your batteries in the middle of a busy trip. Pho Dreams is the comfort food you didn’t know you needed for dinner. Or, if you’re looking for something a little heartier, try Britt’s BBQ. Small but mighty, definitely check out El Segundo on your next visit to L.A.
- Friday: Venice
One of the most iconic beach towns in Southern California, Venice is one of those places in Los Angeles you just have to go. It’s always bustling with eclectic spots and personalities. Venice is such a bright and fun city, making for an unforgettable experience. Be ready for a lot of walking to see all of the fantastic parts of Venice.
For an Instagram-worthy brunch, eat at The Rose Venice. With two large outdoor patios and a California-inspired menu, The Rose is one of the best brunch restaurants in a city full of great brunch restaurants. There is no better place to shop on the Westside than Abbot Kinney. Head to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a mile-long street with all things trendy. My favorites include Principessa, a boho boutique perfect for any festival-goer, and Cookman, a lowkey store with unisex looks inspired by chef wear.
The next stop on your Venice day trip has to be the Venice Canals. The canals are manufactured waterways lined with beautiful houses. This is one of my favorite places in L.A.! Take a stroll around the canal district, admiring the beautiful homes and taking pictures of the wooden bridges connecting the blocks. The canals are such a unique destination and will stand out during your trip to L.A.
It’s hard to have a bad meal in Venice, but it’s impossible if you go to The Butcher’s Daughter. A vegetarian’s paradise, The Butcher’s Daughter has many healthy and delicious options. Hit the Venice Whaler for a bar with ocean views for your nightcap. Venice has it all!
- Saturday: Hermosa Beach
Rich in history, culture, and community, Hermosa Beach is the spunkiest beach city in L.A. Despite its smaller size, Hermosa Beach stands on its own against the neighboring Manhattan and Redondo beaches. It’s an undeniably fun place to visit, meaning you can’t leave it off your list of places to go in L.A.
Get the energy you’ll need for the day with a delectable coffee from Java Man. The cutest little coffee house, the drinks here are so good you’ll want to become a regular. Then, walk down near the beach and find Good Stuff, a brunch place with a very fitting name. You can people-watch beachgoers from their large outdoor seating area while enjoying your food.
Walk off your big brunch down The Strand, the paved walkway that follows the coast, connecting Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo. This is a great way to take in and appreciate the beauty of Southern California. If you’d rather do some shopping, wander up Pier Avenue and check out the shops. If you’re a vintage fanatic like me, you will love Stars Antique Market, an antique heaven found in a barn building. Here you can find everything from furniture, clothes, decor, jewelry, records, etc. You can easily spend the whole day there!
The evening is where Hermosa Beach comes alive. Before diving in, grab a bite at Hook & Plow for a flavorful farm-to-table experience. Then, walk back down towards the pier. Just follow the music! Hermosa bars are always packed, so if you want good nightlife, look no further. Baja Sharkeez is always full of the 25 and under crowd, but there’s also the Lighthouse Cafe if you want somewhere a little classier. The Lighthouse Cafe also frequently has live music with fantastic small bands. Hermosa has to be a weekend stop on your visit for these reasons.
- Sunday: Playa Del Rey
So, you’ve reached the end of your vacation, and you are looking for a chill last day. Luckily, you’re able to find just that in Playa Del Rey. Playa Del Rey is a fantastic beach option because it’s usually less crowded than other nearby beaches like Venice or Manhattan. It’s the perfect place to enjoy your last day exploring West L.A.
Before hitting the beach, stop at Tanner’s—a local favorite—for a coffee and a bite. The laid-back vibe of Playa Del Rey is perfectly exemplified at Tanner’s. Then, make your way over to the ocean. Playa Del Rey is ideal for laying out or swimming. As well, many volleyball nets are spaced out across the beach. Bring a volleyball and a group and have fun with it!
Although I’d recommend sunset, go to the Marina Del Rey North Jetty at any point in the day. An entrance right by the beach, on 62nd and Pacific Avenue, connects the Ballona Creek Bike Path to the jetty. The jetty is a long path over the ocean, which is easily walkable or bikeable, allowing for gorgeous 360° views. You can watch sailboats drift in and out of the marina and see a stunning outline of the surrounding mountains. It’s as picture-perfect as it gets.
If you feel like you want a sophisticated last meal in Los Angeles, then Playa Del Rey’s Bacari is the place for you. Hands down one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Bacari has a wide selection of delicious small plate dishes. You can try many different things, and they will all be good. Their cocktails are also top-tier, my personal favorite being the Painkiller. However, if you want a more wallet-friendly dinner option, try Señor G’s, which sports tasty yet healthy Mexican food. Either will leave you full and satisfied after a day out in the sun. Playa Del Rey should meet all your needs for a relaxing summer day.
Picture taken by @paultowersphotography on Instagram