At the base of the Hollywood Hills, the city of West Hollywood (known as “Weho” by locals) is an unabashed hot bed for L.A.’s vibrant LGBT scene. Expect splashy, classy, and stylish in an area where roughly a third of the people who live here identify themselves as LGBT.
Since you’re also in the heart of the entertainment industry, you might as well look like a star—and shop like one. Keep up your workout regimen at one of Weho’s excellent gym’s, like Crunch, TRAIN, or Mansion Fitness. Then browse fabulous boutiques filled with ultra-stylish clothing and exquisite home furnishings along Melrose Avenue, and Beverly and Robertson Boulevards. Visit top showrooms at the Pacific Design Center (dubbed “The Blue Whale”), also home to MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Pacific Design Center, with leading exhibitions on architecture and design.
At night, head to the legendary Sunset Strip for comedy clubs, rooftop pools and bars, and live music. One of the hottest spots is the Sky Bar atop the Mondrian, where head-swivelers include John Mayer, Nicole Richie, Marilyn Manson, and a bevvy of flavor-of-the-month young stars. Picking a time to visit? Consider the end of October, when more than 500,000 outrageously costumed revelers let loose during the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival outdoor extravaganza along Santa Monica Boulevard.
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, an interior designer’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 centre 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 is not 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.
Los Angeles’ vibrant restaurant scene is justifiably celebrated for its variety, quality, and innovation. But most observers agree that late-night dining options are in short supply in L.A.—especially if you’re in the market for a thoughtful, composed meal.
Casey Lane is helping to change all of that. The celebrated chef opened the Venice hotspot The Tasting Kitchen in 2009 and now runs three more outposts that cater to night owls: Viale dei Romani in West Hollywood, and Breva and Veranda at the downtown Hotel Figueroa.
“I’m mad when it’s 11 p.m. and I have a group of six friends and we want to go get great food and we can’t,” Lane told Food & Wine. “I’ve always hurt for that kind of place, where six or seven of us can go after an event. And we can hang there for two hours and actually continue our evening with a polished serviced setting.”
Thanks to Lane’s quartet of late-night friendly restaurants, Los Angeles foodies can enjoy Mediterranean-inspired food long after Lebron James has switched into street clothes and Gustavo Dudamel is out of his tuxedo. Here are a few of Lane’s favorite things to do and places to go in the Golden State.
Where do you live? West Hollywood
Why there? Love the inspiration of the community, love being able to walk in every direction and find new, creative, or classic Hollywood staples. Dining, shopping, shows—all right in your neighborhood.
Who or what is your greatest California love? The freedom and spirit people live with. There is a feeling that you can be creative and explore your sensibility everyday.
What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That no one in Los Angeles reads.
What is the stereotype that most holds true? That everyone is a bit soft when it comes to straightforward discussions.
What is your favorite Golden State splurge? Playing golf at Pebble Beach.
Time for a road trip—where are you going? Driving up the coast with no true destination—just a point at which you decide to stop and stay before you turn around.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? The French Laundry
How do you define California style? A laid-back originality with so much style it can be the formal version of yourself—or fit in at the beach.
Best California song? “California Love” [by Tupac]
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 go-go dancers, 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.
In late May, One City One Pride honors LGBTQ visual and performing arts with free events around the city, and come June, West Hollywood becomes the home base for the L.A. Pride Festival and Parade. The monthlong celebration includes festivities around the city, many of them appropriate for kids, 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. The festivities are family-friendly, even if they can get a little raucous, but specifically for kids and younger adults 24 and under, there’s the free, circus-themed, and alcohol-free Youth Pride Dance. July brings Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, which showcases the work from LGBTQ filmmakers from around the world.