Los Angeles is massive, and although it doesn’t have the largest population, it covers a very large area. So, when people ask me what to do in Los Angeles, my first question is always: where are you staying? That way, you can tailor the trip around your home base. My favorite area of LA (and the place I call home after living in Chicago for the last eight years) is the Westside of LA — so I think it’s an awesome place to visit. If you’re visiting the Westside, you’ve got plenty of landmass to cover and a ton to do. Here are my favorite neighborhoods to visit on the Westside of LA, from most important to least important.
#1: Santa Monica
Santa Monica has something for everyone and that’s why it’s a must-visit for anyone visiting the Westside. The most popular attractions are the beaches and the Santa Monica Pier, which you can spend an entire day enjoying. The pier has restaurants, an arcade, a merry-go-round, ferris wheel, and rollercoasters for all ages. The beaches get busy in the summer too so head there early to grab a spot. Or, if you’re visiting in the winter, stop by during sunset with a blanket to sit on and sweaters to stay warm.
After the beach, head to the 3rd Street Promenade for food and shopping. There are also events throughout the year so be sure to check out the event calendar in advance of your visit. If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Sunday, check out the Farmer’s Market too!
Venice has such a unique and vibrant culture that it attracts all kinds of people (literally, all kinds). There are tons of fantastic restaurants, especially if you love healthy, farm-fresh food. And there are tons of vegan and vegetarian restaurants for veggie lovers.
My favorite restaurant is The Butcher’s Daughter, which you’ll find on Abbot Kinney Blvd. After you eat, make sure to spend time walking around Abbot Kinney, one of Venice’s most popular spots and then grab some ice cream at Salt & Straw.
If you’d rather eat at the beach, grab a bite at the Venice Ale House for an amazing view of the sunset and, of course, people watching. The boardwalk in Venice is always packed with people and interesting things going on so it’s a lot of fun to just walk around here. And don’t forget to check out the Venice Canals — you’ll be shocked that something so quaint can be found within Los Angeles!
#3: Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is no doubt one of the most famous areas in Los Angeles. Tons of celebs live here and there are a few landmarks for great photo ops. I definitely would not recommend spending a whole day here, but it’s definitely worth a stop to see a few sights.
Stop by Beverly Gardens Park for a few photos and to let little ones stretch out their legs. After that, take a walk down Rodeo Drive for some window shopping and people watching. Keep in mind though that this isn’t your typical high-end shopping area — this is like luxury overload, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you might want to skip Beverly Hills altogether.
#4: Malibu and Pacific Palisades
Malibu isn’t technically part of the Westside of LA, but Pacific Palisades is. Both cities have beaches and mountains in them, which makes them truly spectacular to visit. Some of the best Southern California beaches can be found here, especially in the more northern parts of Malibu. And if you’re a hiker, the Santa Monica mountains have plenty to offer.
If you want to do a nice lunch or dinner on the coast, I love Moonshadows in Malibu. Or, if you want to go somewhere really extravagant, Nobu Malibu is spectacular, though reservations are tough to get, especially around sunset.
#5: West Hollywood
West Hollywood (also known as WeHo) is the hippest of the Westside of LA neighborhoods. You’ll also find some of the best places to eat here. If you’re traveling with kids, you must stop for a meal at Au Fudge. Not only is their food fantastic, but they have a giant play room, staffed with childcare so the kids can play while food is being prepared (and while you enjoy a cocktail).
After that, spend some time walking around, people watching and window shopping. If you’re traveling as a family, I wouldn’t spend too much time here, but it’s a good place to spend half a day or so.
There are tons of awesome places I haven’t listed here, but with limited time, these are the best spots for visitors! What are your favorite places to visit on the Westside of LA? Let us know in the comments!