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Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood

The Sunset Strip

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The Sunset Strip
Glam it up, rock on, and laugh hard along this legendary strip

There may be no greater concentration anywhere of the young, hip, and beautiful than in the bars and clubs of this infamous stretch of roadway. The 1.6-mile strip of Sunset Boulevard is situated in the lively city of West Hollywood and upholds that lively city's reputation as a nightlife hotspot.

From the heights of swank hotel rooftops like the Mondrian’s SkyBar and the Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel, to the glam-grunge of rock clubs like The Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go, there’s a setting to suit your style and mood. In addition to venues that showcase artists ranging from indie singer/songwriters to major-label headliners, there are iconic comedy clubs such as The Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store. Or head to The Roxy—where Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in 1974—for live music in an intimate, 500-capacity venue.

Grab a fireside cocktail at The Den on Sunset or pair a hand-selected Irish whiskey with sliders at Rock and Reilly’s Irish Pub before or after a show. Hotels aren’t just for sleeping—popular venues like Bar Marmont (at Chateau Marmont) and the super-secret Mmhmm cocktail bar at The Standard are sleek spots to see and be seen.

The Sunset Strip isn’t just rock and roll. Spend the afternoon shopping at Sunset Plaza, which contains more than 20 stores, like Armani Exchange and H&M. Book lovers, don’t miss the iconic Book Soup, L.A.’s largest independent bookstore, with floor-to-ceiling shelves that contain more than 60,000 titles, many of which are limited edition. The store hosts frequent author readings, so check its calendar to meet your favorite novelist or hear from up-and-comers.

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Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood

Spotlight: West Hollywood

West Hollywood has been dubbed “The Creative City,” and for good reason. Bordering Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, WeHo is located in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s easily accessible from anywhere in the city, and the area has plenty to see and do packed into 1.9 square miles.

In the West Hollywood Design District, fashion and the arts rule. This trendsetting area includes intimate galleries and the massive Pacific Design Center, a decorator’s dream, located on Melrose Avenue. More interior design showrooms line Beverly Boulevard, while the highest of high-end boutiques can be found on the ever-stylish Robertson Boulevard. Keep your eyes out for spendy celebrities dipping in and out of shops and head to the fabled Sunset Strip to experience the allure of world-famous music venues, hotels, and nightclubs. Stop in at The Viper Room or The Roxy, where such legends as Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen have recorded live albums.

Santa Monica Boulevard, the center of WeHo’s LGBTQ community, is packed with bars, clubs, and award-winning restaurants. Dance your heart out at Revolver Video Bar, get a fancy cocktail at The Abbey, or enjoy hipster comfort food in Laurel Hardware.

But West Hollywood isn’t all about flash. Tucked away on a quiet side street, there’s an icon of modern architecture: the Schindler House at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. Tour the stylish structure, which was completed in 1922 and is an early example of California’s indoor-outdoor style of architecture. Another low-key but worthwhile WeHo find is the beloved Book Soup bookstore, with readings and signings by top writers from around the world.

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Courtesy of Rob Stark

Dining in West Hollywood

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Dining in West Hollywood
Get a taste of trendy hangouts, old-school Russian restaurants, and off-the-radar delights

West Hollywood is a favorite spot among partying celebrities, but this hip little city also packs in a lifetime’s worth of dining experiences. From stripmall sushi to Old Hollywood haunts, West Hollywood has a cure for every craving.

Fashion and design are integral to the WeHo lifestyle, so it’s not surprising that some of the best food is served amidst stunning decor. Long-standing favorite Lucques from famed restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne serves French-inspired food in a gorgeous carriage house. Enjoy farm-fresh fare on Eveleigh’s ivy-covered patio. Lauded for its lobster rolls and oyster platters, Connie and Ted’s Restaurant is also a AIA Restaurant Design Awards finalist.

If people-watching is what you’re after, head to one of Innovative Dining Group’s West Hollywood Trifecta: ROKU, Katana (both serving imaginative Japanese cuisine), or BOA Steakhouse. Real Housewives Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR Restaurant & Lounge (featured on the series) and PUMP Restaurant offer eclectic cuisine with posh backdrops and almost-guaranteed reality-star sightings. For a taste of the L.A. glam-rock scene, try Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip, a former hangout of ‘80s bands Poison and Mötley Crüe, serving American-Italian delights. Dan Tana’s also serves calamari fritti-esque fare, but with an Old Hollywood vibe.

Enjoy excellent eats minus the scene at one of the area’s hidden gems. In the eastside of West Hollywood (a neighborhood known fondly as Little Russia), Traktir boasts some of the tastiest borscht in the city, best enjoyed with a side of black bread and horseradish-infused vodka. Royal Gourmet Deli and Stolichnaya Bakery have all the caviar and piroshki your heart could desire. For a uniquely L.A. experience, get a ticket to raw fish heaven at Sushi Park. This unassuming storefront located in a shopping plaza serves a fixed-price omakase menu with exceptionally fresh and delicately prepared plates.

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Courtesy of The Chamberlain West Hollywood

Where to Stay in West Hollywood

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Where to Stay in West Hollywood
Experience celebrity haunts, over-the-top luxury, rooftop pool parties, and more

A number of the chicest hotels in Los Angeles can be found nestled between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Located in the heart of the city, West Hollywood offers an ideal location for travelers. Its centrality makes nearly any attraction easily accessible—but there’s so much to see and do in walkable WeHo, you might never want to leave.

Just outside the borders of West Hollywood sits the infamous, castle-like Chateau Marmont, perched atop Sunset Boulevard. Although the hotel sets the bar high for pure luxury and movie star elegance, the longtime celebrity is hardly the only posh game in town. The London West Hollywood oozes British charm with textured walls, velvet couches, and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. Enjoy a private viewing of works by de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Miró, and more at Le Petit Ermitage, where the owner displays his art collection on the walls—and guests who book suites are treated to their very own butlers. Some of the best views in the city can be found from the windows of the Sunset Tower Hotel, an art deco landmark which also houses Tower Bar.

If you’re in the market for a thoroughly hip experience, there are plenty of boutique options as well. The Charlie Hotel, a garden bungalow that was formerly Charlie Chaplin’s private grounds, is a quiet retreat in the center of the city. In-room fireplaces paired with mod-style decor make The Chamberlain a cozy respite—with a rooftop pool and patrons that like to party. Popular among the younger crowd, the Andaz West Hollywood eschews the standard front desk for check-in tablets, a complimentary wine happy hour, and sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills.

Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood
Courtesy of Ryan Forbes/Visit West Hollywood

Santa Monica Boulevard

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Santa Monica Boulevard
Explore some of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles along this famous thoroughfare

Santa Monica Boulevard has inspired decades of artists. From Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” to Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do,” the street has long been known as a place where one can have a very good time. Spanning nearly the entire city of Los Angeles, from West Hollywood to the Santa Monica Pier, there’s plenty of fun to be had exploring the boulevard.

Santa Monica Boulevard slices a horizontal line through the city, cutting through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, West Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. A drive down the boulevard is a great way to explore Los Angeles—and what better way to end any trip than to dip your feet in the Pacific at Santa Monica State Beach while you watch rollerbladers skate by on the boardwalk?

The cultural center of the street is its westbound terminus in West Hollywood. Here, the busy four-lane road becomes a walkable street full of fun shops, eclectic restaurants, and plenty of culture. Look for iconic Route 66 signs as well as neon artwork honoring the road’s rich history and outposts like Irv’s Burgers serving up delicious nostalgia. The Percent for Public Art initiative mandates that all new development include a form of public art (think sculptures, neon signs, and vibrant murals).

On the east end of the West Hollywood section sits Little Russia. Try the smoked fish and fresh blini from the local deli Kashtan, or unwind at Voda Spa’s traditional banya complete with a dry sauna and cold pool. The west end is the heart of Los Angeles’ vibrant LGBTQ neighborhood. Stop in for a drink at The Surly Goat or Saddle Ranch Chop House. During the day, take a moment to reflect along the West Hollywood Memorial Walk, which honors victims of HIV/AIDS. Rainbow flags and bronze plaques stand in quiet tribute.

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Courtesy of Sunset Plaza

Shopping in West Hollywood

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Shopping in West Hollywood
Fashion and design converge at the dozens of boutiques in WeHo

Thanks to an impressive number of distinct shopping districts, West Hollywood is a very easy (and fun) place to spend some serious cash—or even just a little. Boutiques from the country’s most famous fashion designers can be found just a few blocks from an interior design mecca and bohemian-punk gift shops. Whether you’re in the market for $1,200 pumps or $12 t-shirts, there’s something in WeHo you simply must have.

Walk up and down Melrose Avenue for a mix of apparel, design, and unexpected gifts. East of Crescent Heights, you’ll find funky gems like Japan LA, featuring Tokyo–style stuffed animals, stationery, stickers, keychains, and the like. Behind a plastic ivy-covered storefront, Joyrich sells 90s-inspired streetwear, while at Scout, you can hunt for vintage finds, carefully merchandised below a giant leather chandelier. The closer to Melrose Place, the higher the price tags. Labels including Chloe, rag & bone, Alice and Olivia, and A.P.C. all have outposts here. Just a bit farther west, on Robertson Boulevard, sit such household-name designers as Christian Louboutin and Helmut Lang.

On the corner of Melrose and San Vicente Boulevard you’ll find the Pacific Design Center, a massive three-building complex filled with furniture and homewares. Not all vendors in the center sell to the public, but in the surrounding blocks, you’ll find luxury establishments, including RH West Hollywood, Blu Dot, Dao, and Christopher Guy.

If you’re in the mood to people-watch, head to Sunset Plaza. This shopping area on the Sunset Strip dates back to the early 20th century and is full of both colorful shops and characters. Give your legs and wallet a rest at Le Petit Four, right in the plaza’s center, where you can enjoy California-meets-French cuisine al fresco.

WeHo Design District
Pascal Shirley

WeHo Design District

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WeHo Design District
Get trendy in a fashion-forward neighborhood

This stylish West Hollywood Design District, roughly defined by the intersections of Melrose Avenue and Robertson and Beverly Boulevards, might be one of the best people-watching areas in Los Angeles. It’s where art and fashion aficionados, trend-setters, and in-the-know celebrities pull up in their Maseratis and duck into shops to search for edgy designs at high-end boutiques, including Moschino, Stella McCartney, and Christian Louboutin.

Also known as an L.A. apex of interior design, WeHo is home to more than 100 trade-only showrooms inside the Pacific Design Center. While some of the center’s stores sell only to design professionals, you can still browse the 1.6 million-square-foot multi-use space. Stop in the designLAb to see the latest exhibition at the rotating gallery, or simply wander the magnificent complex. Designed by influential Argentine-American architect César Pelli, the center consists of three notice-me glass buildings—one race-car red, one cobalt blue, and one forest green.

Dozens of surrounding shops offer one-of-a-kind home goods, apparel, furniture, beauty products, and gifts. Kelly Wearstler sells architecturally inspired women’s wear, jewelry, and home goods. Part gallery, part shop, Leica Store LA offers some of the most coveted photography equipment in the world, while Duroque, Niche, and Christopher Guy all sell high-end art pieces that also serve as functional furniture.

In line with the designer lifestyle, a strong coffee culture permeates the district. Grab a cold brew and an iced matcha croissant at Alfred Coffee in the Alley to better fuel your window shopping. Or sip a vanilla latte with a raspberry-pistachio doughnut from The Assembly as you enjoy the area’s handful of arresting outdoor murals.

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Courtesy of The Abbey

LGBTQ West Hollywood

LGBTQ West Hollywood
Head to the center of gay culture in Los Angeles

At the base of the Hollywood Hills, the city of West Hollywood is the center of LGBTQ Los Angeles. In 1984, West Hollywood became the first majority-gay municipality in the country, and ever since, its rich tradition of pride and acceptance has been enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Today, LGBTQ residents comprise more than 40 percent of the 1.9-square-mile community, and the crosswalks are painted as welcoming rainbows.

It goes without saying that the entire area is LGBTQ-friendly, with excellent restaurants, hotels, and shopping on every corner. As for nightlife, consider The Abbey as your first stop. One of the most famous gay bars and nightclubs in the world, The Abbey has everything from go-go dancers to high-end cocktails, and surprisingly good food. Turn up the volume at the aptly named Girl Bar, check out Fubar if you’re looking for an underground feel, or The Bayou for a late-night happy-hour scene. Round out the weekend with drag queen bingo nights held every Sunday at Hamburger Mary’s.

Come June, West Hollywood becomes the home base for the LA Pride Festival and Parade. The monthlong celebration includes festivities around the city, but the main event is the two-day festival in West Hollywood Park, which welcomes more than 400,000 people each year. Listen to A-list musicians perform on the event’s three stages and watch the elaborate floats roll by at Sunday’s parade. Additionally, One City One Pride commences in late May, honoring LGBTQ visual and performing arts with free events around the city.