City Series: The Corporette® Guide to Los Angeles

guide to Los Angeles for womenThis mini-city guide to Los Angeles for women lawyers and other professionals comes from reader Auntie M, a longtime Los Angeles resident and born-and-raised Southern California girl (and former LA lawyer, and one of Kat’s oldest and best friends). She wants you to know that this guide is not meant to be all-inclusive, and even as she writes this, she knows she’s left off too much. Los Angeles is vast and confusing and a tough nut to crack, but it’s also glamorous and offbeat and artistic and delicious, a tough place to both love and leave. She also has Bruins in her blood, and knows that her second-favorite team is always the one that’s playing USC. Welcome back to Corporette®, M! Readers, you can check out other posts in our City Guide series here. Want to offer advice to the readers for YOUR city? Please fill out this form — we’d be so thankful for any advice you have! – Kat.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

If you’re planning a trip to LA, then you probably already know how spread out it is. If you’re visiting for a specific reason or event, like a work or family event, you’ll probably want to stay close to wherever that is, for convenience – what they say about LA traffic is true, and although Angelenos love to brag about their super-secret side-street and back-road routes, if you don’t know the lay of the land, you will probably find yourself stuck in traffic and very frustrated.

If you’re just headed to LA for a vacation, where you decide to stay will depend on what you want. Sand and surf? Celeb-spotting? High-end shopping? If you’re looking for ideas, the Los Angeles Conservancy has some interesting suggestions for self-guided tours. Wherever you are, you will probably need to rent a car to see it all (more on that later), but here’s a quick look at what some of the areas have to offer:

Santa Monica & Venice Beach

Beachside towns that border each other, with Venice just south of Santa Monica.

Beverly Hills

Spend enough time here and you, too, may have an important epiphany at a water fountain.

West Hollywood and adjacent

A high concentration of gay-friendly hotspots in West Hollywood is a stone’s throw from the iconic Fairfax Avenue, and also is your entry point for a fun hike

Hollywood

Home to, well, Hollywood, including:

Downtown LA

Downtown – known to some as DTLA, but I’ve never heard a local call it that – has been “up and coming” for more than a decade, but it’s still a little rough. Worth it, though, if you want to see:

The Valley / Burbank

I’ll admit that I have heard of these places and may have even driven into them a few times, but really all I know about the Valley is that it’s home to a lot of TV studios, there’s an airport in Burbank, and people who live there actually really love it.

Silverlake / Echo Park

Hipster central, high concentration of indie music spots, local restaurants, and gay-friendly (in a more low-key way than WeHo). Not much in the way of tourist attractions, but worth seeking out if you want to check out LA’s coolest kids.

Where to Eat in Los Angeles

I’ll be honest, there are far too many great restaurants to include here, but if you have a few hours and want to sample some of LA’s best, check these out:

Grand Central Market: A little bit of everything.

Food trucks: Admittedly, these are hard to find, and with LA driving being what it is, it’s not so easy to just “pull over” if you spot one you like. This website seems to be a good place to start.

In-n-Out: You’ve heard of it, now try it for yourself. Several locations in LA, and there will probably be a line or a wait. (Pro tip: eat it fresh, rather than to go.) (And, ok, fine, here’s the unofficial secret menu, which goes into slightly more detail than their official one.)

Philippe: Home of the original French Dip sandwich.

Canter’s Deli: My personal favorite (although if I lived further east, I’d probably spend more time at Langer’s). Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling as you eat your expensive-but-delicious sandwiches, and once you’re done, do drop in to the Kibitz Room next door, where the rock history practically emanates from the walls.

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Tacos and tortas: The best I’ve had are the ones I’ve gotten from food trucks or holes-in-the wall late at night, and I honestly couldn’t tell you the names of any of those locations, but this list seems to have some good offerings.

Pink’s Hot Dogs: Great onion rings, beloved chili dogs. Always a line, even at 10 in the morning.

Guelaguetza: Another personal favorite, this place has delicious Oaxacan food in the middle of LA’s Koreatown, and the best mole I’ve ever had.

Other Things To Do While Visiting Los Angeles

Honestly, there is so much to do in LA, and with everything so spread out, it’s nearly impossible to get to all the best it has to offer in a single visit. Here are some suggestions, to start.

Art: LACMA, Getty, REDCAT, Downtown Art Walk – they all show different parts of LA’s fantastic art scene, from the classics to exciting new works to avant-garde performances.

Theatre: New York gets all the theatre love, but LA’s theatre scene is vibrant and often overlooked. I personally love “Theatre Row” in Hollywood, but you can catch more mainstream shows at the Geffen Playhouse or the Center Theatre Group.

Music: The Hollywood Bowl, Staples Center, The Forum – these are some great places to see a huge headliner, but LA has some great smaller venues that attract some great acts. My favorites are the Troubadour, the Wiltern, and the Greek Theatre.

Sports: Staples is home to the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and Kings, so whatever you like, you’ll probably find it there. If you’re there during baseball season, a trip to Dodger Stadium is a fun way to spend a summer evening.

Show tapings: From The Price is Right and Jeopardy! to popular sitcoms and Jimmy Kimmel Live, there are plenty of opportunities to be part of a “live studio audience,” which is actually a real thing. Plan ahead for this one, and plan to spend a lot of time doing it.

Disneyland: Technically located in Orange County, Disneyland often feels like LA because so may Angelenos go there regularly. I had a season pass for years, even though I don’t have kids, because there is something that’s just so fun about driving down to Anaheim after work on a random summer weeknight just to hit a few rides and maybe eat a churro. Yes, Disneyland can be crowded and overpriced, but it’s also a California classic that’s worth a visit at least once.

Safety Tips for Women Visiting Los Angeles

If you’re visiting and renting or borrow a car, you’re probably going to be using your phone to help you get around. Plan ahead: download whatever maps apps you like – people like Waze, I’ve been fine with Google Maps. Just find what works for you, and get comfortable with it ahead of time. Put in your destination before you start to drive, and try to get a general feel for where you’re going. And for the love of all things LA, get one of these vent-clip mounts, so that you’re not looking down at your phone. This one seems to be popular (affiliate link).

Use caution on the roads, especially in the rain. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Traffic will probably have you spending plenty of time in the car, but fortunately, LA’s KCRW radio station is pretty great.

LA readers and recent visitors to LA, what would you include in a city guide to Los Angeles? Where do you like to shop for work clothes in Los Angeles; where are your favorite LA spots to eat, and what is a “don’t miss” thing to do? Here’s a template for your response if it’s helpful…

Where to stay:
Where to shop:
Where to eat:
Favorite attractions:
Etiquette tips if any:
Safety tips if any:
Other notes:

Pictures via Stencil.guide to Los Angeles for women lawyers - picture of Hollywood sign

The Corporette® Guide to Los Angeles for women lawyers and other professionals -- what to do if you're visiting LA or just got a new job in or near Los Angeles!

Comments

  1. Christina Wang :

    This is super helpful for someone that’s planning a soon/eventual/someday move to LA! When we visited earlier this year – we found everything pretty overwhelming but the Silverlake area to be very relaxed. Coming from NY though, it was disappointing not to be able to walk between neighborhoods.

    • I so agree. I love NYC, but would LOVE to live in LA for mabye a year, tho I would have to buy a car. FOOEY. Rosa once got asked if she wanted a modelling contract from a place that had an LA office, but she was dating Ed, and Ed did not want her to go to LA b/c he knows that men would POUNCE on her (figureatively and literally) and he might loose her to some greazy guy with more money in the bank then he had.

      But I am NOT married, and if there are guys who make alot of money that would be loyal to me, I would be open to that posibility, especialy b/c men in NY are onley interested in “the moment”, meaning that after they have $ex with you, they burp, fart and pull their pants back up and poof, they’re gone! DOUBEL FOOEY on THAT!!!!

  2. KateMiddletown :

    Love this series! Keep em coming – would love to see Chicago, Austin, ATL, etc. Thanks!

    • Shopaholic :

      Ya! I’ve been wanting to visit LA but know basically nothing – this is really helpful!

  3. Rebecca Strong :

    Where to stay: I can’t answer this very well, since we live here. People stayed at the Culver Hotel for our wedding and said it was nice–it’s more on the historic side, for what it’s worth, but Culver City is very trendy. A cousin gave a thumbs up to Custom Hotel on Lincoln just south of Venice. And, I had a meeting with some people at the Belamar which is on Sepulveda (se PULL veh dah) just south of LAX and it seemed pretty cool.

    Where to shop: Online! Haha. Seriously, driving around LA is such a pain that I buy almost everything online.

    Where to eat: El Cholo is an LA institution and makes awesome traditional Cal-Mex food. Bestia downtown is said to be amazing for Italian food–I haven’t managed to get a reservation yet to test this out. If you want to eat ramen, there are many good places. The best I’ve had is Daikokuya on Sawtelle (between Culver City and Santa Monica). Those who eat sushi seem to like Sugarfish. The best BBQ I’ve had is Bludso’s on La Brea in Hollywood. Ray & Stark at LACMA has a good charcuterie plate and you can hang out with a glass of wine and people watch. And, I far prefer the french dip at Cole’s (downtown) to Philippes, and it also claims to be the original. Behind Cole’s is a bar called ‘Varnish’. There are two locations of ‘Wurstkuche’ (one downtown and one in West LA) that serve exotic sausages and a huge variety of beers as well as addictive fries. Father’s Office (Culver City right near the Culver Hotel) makes very good gastro pub fare but is not kid friendly and will not alter your burger to taste.

    Favorite attractions: The walking streets of Venice (by the canals) are very pleasant if you want to look at tiny bungalos worth several million each. Griffith Park Observatory is free and amazing with great views. The Getty Villa (in Malibu) and the Broad Museum (downtown) are great for ancient art & modern art respectively. Urban light (an installation outside LACMA) is always popular, and you can see the big stupid boulder they hauled through the streets (Levitated Mass) by just walking onto the grounds. Right by LACMA is the La Brea tar pits, which has a great small museum, but you can also just walk through the park and gawk at the bubbling pools of goo. We also have the Endeavor Space Shuttle at the California Science Center, and if you’re into old transportation, you can also go down to Long Beach and see the Queen Mary. Right now, the lotuses are blooming on Echo Park Lake, and you can take an amazing picture-postcard shot of the LA skyline from there. And, if you can swing an invite from a member, the Magic Castle has a great dinner/magic show combo.

    Etiquette tips if any: Don’t bother celebrities if you happen to see them.

    Safety tips if any: LAX is a hair-raising driving experience even for Angelenos. I would avoid it, if possible. Driving downtown is also pretty bad. There are quite a few one-way streets, and they’re always doing construction.

    Other notes: Try out the Metro if you get a chance. It can get you from downtown all the way to Santa Monica (and various other places as well)

    • +1 to all of the attractions and restaurants, with a few others.

      For a quintessential LA restaurant: Urth Caffe. For incredible Italian food: Giorgio Baldi. For NY pizza all the way in LA: Village Pizzeria on Larchmont (which is also a cute little street). Susiecakes for cupcakes (also Brentwood a very cute area to visit). Shutters for very LA-scenic views. Remember that on the West Coast the sun sets over the ocean, so enjoy a sunset!

      Other fun night: Korean Karaoke! Shatto 39 is a bowling alley that is a time machine to the past. Go bowl for fun, then go do some karaoke in the strip mall there and have awesome tacos from the trucks that park nearby.

      As far as walking along the beach, I think Santa Monica is prettiest. Venice is quirky, but definitely a sight to see!

      • OH! Korean barbecue!!! And for regular BBQ: Baby Blues is the best.

        • I keep remembering more: as for ettiqu3tt3, honking is a BIG NO-NO even when the traffic is frustrating. Same goes for waiting in lines, there is just a more laid-back vibe with people less anxious to be waiting in line. I definitely think people wear less black than in NYC, DC, and Chicago, and are less formal with attire: I have seen gladiator sandals with a pant suit like it was no big deal and incorporating trends into attire is very normal, even in businesswear. I feel like people in LA are more interested in the ‘industry’ so even though no one bugs celebrities when they see them, they want to know who’s who in every bar they walk into.

          This is a weird one but an only-in-LA thing but go see a movie at Hollywood Forever with a picnic from Gelson’s. Yes, it’s an old cemetery but it’s fun.

          • Yessss to the no-honking. People come out here from the east coast and get confused about why they are getting dirty looks (at best) and yelled at when they honk. A quick tap on your horn if a couple of heartbeats passes with someone at a newly-turned green light is OK, but blaring your horn all the time is definitely not done.

      • 100000000% yes to Village Pizzeria… in addition, the best ice cream is a couple doors down at Jeni’s, so you can do a whole meal plus shopping in one stop!

        Another tip; assume that whatever time google maps says it’ll take, double it not during rush hour, triple it during rush hour. In other words, if it says 15 minutes, if it’s 11am-2pm or 8pm-5am, plan on 30 minutes. If it’s 5am-11am or 2pm-8pm, assume it’ll take closer to 45 minutes.

        Be aware of parking restrictions and plan time for that (y3lp gives tips on parking sometimes from visitors of places).

  4. Two Cents :

    This is a great idea for a new series and since this is a fashion blog, I would add a section on where to shop, particularly stores that are specific to that city or that just have a few stores nationwide (I’m thinking of Reiss or LK Bennett, etc.)

  5. Seventh Sister :

    I’m a Culver City-ite and would recommend Public School over Father’s Office for general kid-friendliness in downtown Culver City. Kay and Dave’s is super kid-friendly, as is Wildcraft and K-Zo (assuming you go early and the kids are OK with Japanese). I’ve never stayed at the Culver Hotel but the bar is fun and it’s a really nice space for events. Also close: Versailles (Cuban food, very very kid friendly) and Gaby’s (Lebanese). Nearby, I’d recommend The Corner Door for drinks/dinner, Hatchet Hall for fancy dinner, and Pitfire Pizza for kids.

    La Cabana is awesome Mexican food on the eastern edge of Venice, though parking is fairly terrible. My very very favorite LA restaurant is Valentino in Santa Monica.

    As for shopping, I’m always a fan of the LACMA and MOCA museum stores, Clothes Heaven (if you happen to get to Pasadena), and the small Target in downtown LA (if there is a capsule collection, they’ll probably have good pieces left). Lundeen’s in Culver City is super-cute. Most of the Santa Monica Promenade stores can be skipped, but the TJ Maxx at 4th and Arizona is usually full of good purses and clothes (but not shoes).

    People do honk, but it’s not Boston. I only honk if someone has pulled off a complete jack*ss move or the light turned green and they aren’t going because they are looking at their phone. Also, the stoplights on most streets are timed for 35mph, so there isn’t much sense in accelerating up to 50 then getting caught at a red light.

  6. Where to shop: Tourist-y and not for actual shopping — the Grove, which is a nightmare to park at and get to unless you’re already in the area. If you want a similar feeling, go to the Americana in Glendale, which is exactly the same parent company/outdoor feeling, plus it’s next door to a mall that normal people shop at. The Americana complex has Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and a ton others including a movie theater, lots of food options (Din Tai Fung dumplings!! Shake Shack for those who don’t want to wait in NYC lines to try it!), and they just put in a Tesla showroom. I really recommend Burbank for people looking for vintage and vintage-style clothes — the online stores Pinup Girl and Unique Vintage have brick-and-mortar locations there, there’s a SUPER amazing vintage store called Play Clothes that’s crammed full of things but displayed nicely with decade information on each piece, lots of accessories and shoes. There’s even a store that has designer clothes used on movie and TV sets (categorized by show, if you want to be nerdy) — good for discounted deals if you’re on the slightly smaller side.

    Where to eat: In’n’Out. Always eat in. Get your cheeseburger Animal Style. Get the fries Animal Style too if you’re feeling adventurous! I also second Wurstkuche — the one in the arts district downtown is by Pie Hole (yum!) and Salt & Straw (ice cream).

    Favorite attractions: Pasadena is really under-rated and only mentioned in the context of the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl. I’m biased since I live in the area — it’s slightly north and east of downtown LA, and isn’t quite as horrifically crowded as west LA. If you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, head east. There’s incredible craftsman architecture to see — just drive around looking at all the big houses, small houses, Craftsman bungalows… the famous Greene & Greene home is stunning and the furniture in each room was designed for each room individually.

    The Huntington Library is a -must- if you like sprawling gardens, art, and history — they have ENORMOUS grounds with a cactus garden, famous Japanese garden (with bonsai and tea house, koi pond, arched bridge — the works), a new Chinese garden with ponds and dumpling house, tea house for afternoon tea, a brand new giant store… plus the impeccable historical displays — lots of American and European art; the historical home of the Huntington family with tapestries, giant paintings, silver, ceramics, etc; a gallery of the history of science with a fascinating display of historic lightbulbs; and then the huge room of literary delights — they have a huge illuminated manuscript version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the huge Audubon bird book, letters from Lincoln, Washington, and many famous literary figures…the list goes on. It’s totally worth the drive and the price.

    Descanso Gardens (north of downtown) and the LA County Arboretum (east of Pasadena) are also other great garden options. The San Gabriel mountains to the north/northeast of downtown LA are great for hiking. The mountains near Malibu are also great for wine tasting and hiking. It’s really pretty if you’re already in the area.

    Also the Getty Villa — everyone knows about the giant Getty Museum on the “hill” right by the 405 freeway, but everyone forgets about the Getty Villa. It’s all Roman and Greek art and artifacts, in a stunning and quiet location near Malibu in a villa modeled after one in Pompeii. (It was originally Mr. Getty’s home and the original home to the Getty Museum, but it was rebuilt after the “hill” location was finished.) Tickets are free but parking costs, and you have to get a timed reserved entry in advance, FYI. Totally worth it. Beautiful and quiet and sumptuously decorated — then go to the beach for dinner after!

    And Disneyland, of course. Check the Disneyland “crowd forecast” calendar to see when it’s likely to be less busy. Churros and dole whip, A+.

    Etiquette tips if any: Use your blinker. Go with the speed of traffic if you can. Don’t talk on the phone while driving.

    Other notes: I’ll reiterate all the reminders about traffic and parking. Just bring a trusty GPS or your phone, check your route ahead of time, and be prepared for rush hour. Check SigAlert or Caltrans Quickmap if you want to be insane-prepared — the Caltrans Quickmap shows you the flow of traffic (red/yellow/green), road construction areas, and real-time updates on traffic accidents. If the Burbank airport is an option, ALWAYS GO BURBANK. So worth it. 10 minutes for security, unless it’s busy, and then it’s like 20-30. ;) Aaaand…I personally don’t think it’s worth going to Hollywood & Highland where the walk of fame is, unless you just want the experience of tourism — it’s pretty dirty, crowded, and full of crappy souvenirs. Try farmers markets or craft fairs instead!

  7. I recently visited for work and opted to Uber everywhere rather than drive. It was fantastic: It was perhaps a bit cheaper than renting a car, and much lower stress level. I wish I’d had this article to read before going, but a couple of additions that I enjoyed:
    -Visiting the Griffith Observatory (free, great views) and then I hiked around some in Griffith Park (which is where the Hollywood sign is). There are both easy and difficult trails.
    -La Brea tar pits
    -Upright Citizen’s Brigade (improv / skit comedy)

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