The L.A. Weekend Bucket List
I recently went on a weekend getaway to Los Angeles with two friends from school—Ren and Annie. Within less than 72 hours, we were able to hit up some of the most scenic places in the city while eating some of the most delicious foods along the way. Here are 13 highlights from my trip that I highly advise you check out while you’re in L.A.!
Have brunch and dessert at Bottega Louie
With over 14,000 Yelp reviews, high ceilings, dainty Parisian decor, macaron Christmas trees, and picturesque pastries, Bottega Louie should be at the top of your list of things to do in L.A. Grab your besties and sit down at one of the marble tables for brunch on a weekend morning. Knowing that this place was super popular, Annie and I were a bit worried that we would spend a long of time waiting in line to get in. But because this place has a huge dining room, you'll find yourself seated immediately with plenty of empty tables left to spare.
700 S Grand Avebottegalouie.com
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Annie and I decided that we wanted both sweet and savory dishes, so we shared the smoked salmon Eggs Benedict and the plain beignets with raspberry sauce on the side. Bottega Louie's beignets are a bit like donuts—except they're fluffier and lighter.
Visit The Last Bookstore
After stopping at Bottega Louie, stay in the Downtown area and explore The Last Bookstore. Not only can you find cheap used books and records in the store, but you'll also stumble upon lots of art installations constructed out of books scattered throughout the building. Amongst them is a book tunnel, a circular book "window", and a bookshelf that looks like it's defying gravity. This bookstore also has a dedicated booth where you can drop off your old books and sell them to the store.
453 S Spring Stlastbookstorela.com
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Explore the Bradbury Building
Just a few blocks away from The Last Bookstore is The Bradbury Building. This building has made cameos in a number of movies and television shows and is known for its beautiful orange and green interior that draws from the Italian Renaissance Revival. The elevator is exposed, so you can see all the gears in action as the lift moves from floor to floor. Its open center, lit naturally from a large window in the ceiling, is surrounded by different offices on different floors. It reminds me of the 888 Brannan building in San Francisco—which is a much more modern version of The Bradbury that houses several tech companies. The two buildings are so uncannily similar that I wonder if 888 Brannan took inspiration from this older building. But then again, because this building is so famous… it must’ve inspired a dozen other buildings along the way. Anyways, it’s free to enter, and a super photogenic place that your camera will love.
304 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
After visiting the Bradbury Building, make sure to stop by the Blue Bottle Coffee right next door for a cold brew and to sit within the beautiful Scandinavian-inspired decor.
Take photos at picturesque walls in Beverly Hills
L.A. is literally the Instagram capital of the world—not only does it have gorgeous food, but it is also filled with hundreds of murals across its many neighborhoods. Melrose Ave in Beverly Hills is a street that houses dozens of artsy walls, and is home to the famous pink Paul Smith wall (which also has a wall of painted flowers right across from it), and the “Made in LA” wall, which is actually the side of a furniture boutique. Even if you don’t plan to do much shopping at the luxury stores here, there are plenty of picturesque alleyways that will catch your eye as much as the expensive clothing.
The Pink Wall at Paul Smith Los Angeles
8221 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Grab a snack at Grand Central Market
If you’re looking for a quick snack, coffee, or a casual lunch in Downtown LA, visit the Grand Central Market. Within this market that spans half a block, there are numerous street food vendors featuring Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese cuisines (I may also be missing some here…). Yes it can be hectic and lines can get quite long (especially for Eggslut), but it's super fun to walk through and marvel at all the different cuisines in one place. Instead of Eggslut, my friend and I resorted to getting the egg-shaped gummies instead, just because we were so damn curious about what it tasted like. And no, it did not taste like egg. Bummer.
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Shop at unique stores in Abbot Kinney
If you’re around the Venice Beach area, make sure you make an effort to walk inland to discover Abbot Kinney Blvd. This street is filled with all sorts of cute storefronts and cafés—some of them without roofs because... why do they need one anyways, it’s always sunny in LA, right? Even more established brands like rag & bone have adapted to this aesthetic and designed their storefronts to look like one that's owned by an indie brand. I would say that this street is the equivalent of Hayes Valley in San Francisco, only it’s much bigger and contains more stores.
Abbot Kinney Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90291
Dine at Cassia and shop in Santa Monica
It’s definitely not difficult to find good places to eat in L.A. The difficult part is deciding which one to eat at. I discovered a place on Yelp called Cassia which specializes in modern Singaporean and Vietnamese cuisine that was just a few blocks away from the Santa Monica shopping center. We ordered the Seafood platter which contained some of the most unique and creative seafood dishes that I’ve ever seen, the chickpea curry flatbread, and the bone marrow stewed in pho broth. After dinner, we headed a few blocks west to Santa Monica's shopping center to walk it off.
1314 7th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios
For those who grew up with the Harry Potter books and movies, Universal Studios has now given us a place to geek out—The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Hogwarts section of the theme park has two rides while the Hogsmeade portion is filled with restaurants and shops where you can purchase merchandise from scarves to wands to broomsticks. A tip for those who want to drink butterbeer: don't wait in the long lines at the carts around the park! Cut your wait time by going into Hog's Head Pub (connected to the main restaurant) and enjoy your drink in a dining hall that resembles a Hogwarts common room.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plz
Universal City, CA 91608
Have a casual Breakfast at Eggslut
If you plan on visiting Venice Beach, there is an Eggslut located conveniently right at the edge of the boardwalk. Since lines of the Eggslut located in Grand Central Market can get insanely long, try your best to visit the one in Venice instead. I can't guarantee that there won't be a line though—when we went early on Sunday morning, we still had to wait 5-10 minutes to enter. But if you want to sit down to enjoy your egg sandwich, or take it to go and enjoy it on the beach, the Venice location is the place to go!
Once you're there, try out "The Slut" (oh dear this sounds so wrong), which is a soft poached egg on top of a bed of mashed potatoes which you eat with crunchy toast drizzled in olive oil. The egg sandwich is incredibly messy to eat, since the eggs (even the scrambled) are extremely runny—but so delicious, of course. So prepare to grab a few extra napkins. Also worth mentioning is their biscuit, which comes with a honey butter that is to die for.
1611 Pacific Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90291
Check out the view and ride the slide at Oue Skyspace
The Oue Skyspace skyscraper is located in Downtown, right across from the L.A. Central Public Library. For $35 you can take the elevator up to the top floor to ride the sky slide: a transparent glass slide on the side of the skyscraper that goes down to the floor right underneath. Once you're on the second highest floor, go outside to get some shots of an angel's view of Downtown L.A., and to take some photos with a set of watercolor angel wings created by Colette Miller.
633 W Fifth St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Pig out in Koreatown
Koreatown is home to the largest Korean population outside of Korea, and its food is no joke. We were originally planning to go to Sun Nong Dan, a restaurant specializing in galbijim (갈비찜)—a hearty short rib stew—one of my favorite dishes. But because there was a huge line outside of its tiny storefront, we decided to go to the place next door—Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo—which also had over a thousand reviews and a 4.5 star rating. The bossam (보쌈)—boiled pork belly lettuce wraps—were definitely my favorite.
Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo
3470 W 6th St
Ste 9 & 10
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Wilshire Center, Koreatown
People-watch at the Venice Boardwalk
Unfortunately L.A. was quite gloomy on the weekend I arrived. So it was pretty cold and windy at the beach in Venice. Still, it was worth visiting to see all the unique street art, performers, and personalities. Because it got so chilly, we stopped by a nearby café called Menotti’s for a delicious Spanish latte.
Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291
Visit Mansur Gavriel and its café at Melrose Place
Mansur Gavriel has come out with some fantastic handbags in the past year. The minimal shape of the bags, paired with their eccentric colors, really helps to create a very unique look for the brand. The store itself, like its handbags, is absolutely stunning. There is even a lily pond inside the store! But because their handbags are on their higher end of the price spectrum, Annie and I decided to sit down at its in-house café for a light lunch instead. We shared the pesto orecchiette and the almond cake, which was the perfect portion for a light lunch before heading on the plane back to San Francisco.
One thing I forgot to mention was that we also passed by a farmer’s market outside Mansur Gavriel on Melrose Place selling street food, jewelry, baked goods, and fresh produce. I’m assuming that it happens every Sunday. Get the best of both worlds by doing luxury shopping in Melrose Place, and then doing your flea market shopping at the many tents outside.
Mansur Gavriel and Café Flora
8475 Melrose Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90069
A huge shout out to Ren and Annie for enjoying the best of L.A. with me! It was so nice going on a trip with an all-female crew and not feeling ashamed of going shopping, or being a little too *basic* by taking photos inside a bookstore.
All photos were taken on the iPhone X and edited on VSCO.