All the best hangouts, in all the best cities, from the locals who know…
First stop on next week’s FP Lets Move tour — Los Angeles! After a day full of meditation and potion sampling, consider treating yourself the way the locals do. We reached out to five Free People employees from the LA area to give you in the in’s and out’s of all their favorite spots.
Erica Contreras: Los Angeles District Visual Manager
The Broad – 221 S. Grand Ave. Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012
The newest LA home to Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger and, currently, Jean-Michel Basquiat. The standout perhaps being Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a space completely covered with mirrors and dozens of LED lights hanging from the ceiling. With only 45 seconds per room visit, you get the opportunity to experience “the sense of infinity” and take a quick selfie for your Instagram feed. Make sure to reserve your free timed slot in advance, as wait time is usually a minimum of 2 hours!
The Butcher’s Daughter – 1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA 0291
Located in one of Los Angeles’ coolest neighborhoods, Venice’s Abbot Kinney, The Butcher’s Daughter is known for treating fruits and vegetables as “a butcher would meat”. I love a good pressed juice and this place is one of the best. They gather fresh fruits and veggies from the local Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and “filet and carve” them into delicious and beautiful juices. The menu changes daily but you are always guaranteed a wonderful vegetarian (or vegan!) breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!
Commissary: The Line Hotel – 3515 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90010
The Commissary is a beautiful greenhouse set on the 2nd floor of the Line Hotel in LA’s Koreatown. A comfortable, modern rooftop garden with cascading plants, mixed matched plates, napkins and utensils and drinks served in vintage glassware. A fun place to brunch or just grab a cocktail with friends.
The Strand Bicycle Beach Path – Pacific Coast Hwy & Temescal Canyon Rd. Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
A 22-mile bike ride (44 round trip) along the pacific from Santa Monica to Torrance State Beach. Hop on to your beach cruiser and start at the popular Santa Monica Pier. Ride through Venice Beach and all of its wonderful people watching. Make your way through Dockweiler to Manhattan Beach to catch surfers and professional volleyball players in action. After that, ride to Hermosa Beach for some great food and live music. You are in for a full day of beautiful beach views and adventure.
Cinespia: Hollywood Forever Cemetery – 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038
Pack a blanket, a basket full of snacks, and catch a cult classic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. With movies like Purple Rain, Death Becomes Her and 2001: A Space Odyssey, along with coordinating photo booths, you’re in for an unforgettable movie experience.
Crystal Reign: Valencia Visual Manager
The Griffith Observatory – 2800 E. Observatory Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Constructed in June of 1933, this Art Deco building offers breathtaking and iconic views of Los Angeles such as The Hollywood Sign, Downtown LA, Griffith Park, and even the Pacific Ocean. The Observatory has an extensive array of space and science displays open six days a week, and always offers free admission and parking. Hours typically run from sunrise to 10pm, and is closed on holidays. The Observatory houses all sorts of different sized telescopes to offer a closer look into LA while, inside, the Samuel Oschin Planetarium hosts daily space programs and special monthly star parties open to all ages, with tickets running between $5-$10. The Observatory is not only sought out by “out-of-towners”, but remains a cherished local spot, too. Offering copious amounts of hiking and biking trails, picnic spots, and simply a convenient way to enjoy nature, the land that surrounds the Griffith Observatory will always be high on people’s must-see lists.
Alcove Café & Bakery & Big Bar – 929 Hillhurst Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Nestled right in Los Feliz, this little restaurant and bar is a sure treasure of East Hollywood. Offering speciality cocktails, beers and wines to perfectly pair with a variety of baked goods, soups and salads, sandwiches and wraps, filling entrees, lights snacks and desserts. Their menu offers vegan and gluten free options as well as kid friendly selections so everyone can enjoy. I recommend their vegan veggie wrap with a side of fries or lentil soup…yum!
Point Mugu State Park – 9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Point Mugu, which sits right below the the Santa Monica Mountains, offers some of the best sunsets in LA. (I recommend parking along the highway if you want to save a few bucks)! It offers clean beaches, fire pits, state park camping, swimming, and hiking. And the off-season is even more special because it has less campers and visitors on site. Just bring some blankets and your favorite drinks and snacks and sit back and watch as the 5pm fall/winter sky fills with vibrant oranges and pinks. Open daily from 8am – 10pm.
Counterpoint Records & Books – 5911 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
With a deep assortment of records, books, cd’s, and tapes, you’re sure to find a hidden gem in here. Everything is organized by genre, newness, and price points. I especially like the more unique baroque and classical guitar music. Even if you just want something to do on your day off, a good record store will never cease to amaze and entertain you.
Magpies Soft Serve – 2660 Griffith Park Blvd. Silver Lake, CA 90039
After a day of exploring, there may be nothing better than indulging in some scratch recipe soft serve ice cream. Opened by Rose and Warren, a husband-and-wife duo, Magpies offers flavors like dairy free Horchata and Yuzu Honey, a Korean tea. All of the toppings are made in house and fresh daily. How does Chocolate Covered Honeycomb, Candied Pecans, Hazelnut Wafers, Non Dairy Fudge Sauce, and Toasted Maple Coconut Chips grab you?
Niree Nazarian: Los Angeles District Sales Driver / Studio City Store Manager
Mantee – 10962 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604
Very well known in the Armenian community, Mantee serves some of the best authentic Armenian food around… Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, and many others like to frequent this little haven, which mimics a little cottage lined in string lights outside all year round.
Sweet Butter – 13824 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks 91423
Sweet Butter is a family-owned coffee/dessert shop who take great pride in using all-natural ingredients. It’s so cute, with pots of flowers all throughout the garden-like patio area. Located on the end of a residential street, this makes the décor feel extra homey.
The Edison– 108 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Once a boiler room, this basement-ish bar/lounge now has Persian carpets lining the entire floor, with a few of the boilers left for ambiance. The crowd is awesome, too. You can go in and strike up a conversation with anyone.
Midici – 14612 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Midici does something wonderful — they mix music with pizza, beer, wine, cheese and Nutella. Their head chef Jesse always gifts people a free Nutella dessert which is about the size of my head. Midici’s entire right side boasts the quote “People are the best thing that can happen to anyone.” Once I read that, I knew I would love it.
Bookstar – 12136 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604
Growing up, I loved going to the bookstore. That unmatched smell of thousands of books is an amazing thing that I wish more folks knew how to appreciate. The following is a clip about Bookstar I found in a 1990 newspaper: “The 50-year-old landmark may be saved from the wrecking ball and restored to its original grandeur. The landlord, a family that has owned the Ventura Boulevard property for generations and leased it out to Mann Theaters, reportedly has no interest in redeveloping the site and hopes to sign a lease with a Texas-based book chain that has turned two other old theaters into stores.”
Tara Meagher: Topanga Visual Manager
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s – 1611 N El Centro Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028
Good Times is my favorite place to bring people from out of town. Situated right in the heart of Hollywood, you soon realize as you walk in through the vintage refrigerator, past the “garage sale,” that this is not your typical tourist trap. A soundtrack almost exclusively from the 60’s and 70’s will transport you back to your parents’ era. Grab an adult snow cone from the RV in the backyard and you’ll wish you could just move in!
The Huntington Library – 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
The Huntington is somewhere you can get lost for hours. Hidden in Pasadena, it has a massive library, art collections, and 16 botanical gardens. The Chinese Garden is my favorite. I love wandering through its landscape and admiring the architecture across the little bridges. Perfect for grabbing a fortune cookie and a hot cup of tea!
Ace Hotel – 929 South Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90015
From the rooftop at the Ace downtown, you can see all of the variety that LA has to offer! Just as stunning is the theater downstairs. The ornate interior makes for one of the coolest backdrops I’ve found yet, making it my fave music venue in the city.
Clifton’s Cafeteria – 48 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014
If you’re on the hunt for a zoo’s worth of taxidermy, the largest public cafeteria in the US, a grand ballroom, a giant redwood tree (with a fireplace in it!!), 4 bars including one with a meteorite, the oldest working neon light around, and an indoor waterfall? come to downtown Los Angeles! Clifton’s cafeteria is not just a place to eat, it’s an experience and THE go-to place for dinner and ballroom dancing.
Highland Park Bowl – 5621 N Figueroa st Los Angeles, CA 90042
Many of my favorite places are historic venues that have been brought back to their former glory, and the Highland Park Bowl takes that to another level. It has been beautifully restored to its ’20’s heyday, and the repurposed pieces of machinery from the bowling alley (check out the pinsetter light fixtures!) are seriously incredible. And on top of that, they have some of the best pizza in California.
The Last Bookstore – 453 S Spring St Ground Floor Los Angeles, CA 90013
If you need some creative inspiration, or are just in the market for a new read, The Last Bookstore is THE place to go. California’s largest new/used book and record store, it also includes artist galleries, display installations, and a labyrinth on the second level. Don’t miss the science fiction novels housed in the former vault of what used to be the building’s bank.
Maeve Showalter: Hollywood Store Manager
Amoeba Music –6400 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028
Amoeba Music Records holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first record stores my brothers ever took me to, and showcased some my favorite artists, like Paul McCartney and Band Of Horses. It houses two stories’ worth of music, movies and books, yet manages to offer an intimate sense of community with an incredibly helpful and knowledgable staff. I love their staff picks, updated weekly… I always end up leaving with a new artist to fall in love with.
Aroma Cafe Coffee and Tea Company – 4360 Tujunga Ave, Studio City CA 91604
Whether I am coming get my favorite Vanilla Almond Latte fix or for date night, Aroma Cafe delivers. During the spring and summer months the patio is a beautiful place to sip on ice coffee, shaded by trees and colorful umbrellas, and during the winter you can cozy up by the indoor fireplace, akin to a rustic French cafe. This is my home away from home — to read, write, work, and hang out.
The Record Parlour – 6408 Selma Ave, Los Angeles CA 90028
By far my favorite record store in LA. The Record Parlour keeps over 15,000 records in stock, along with vintage gear, jukeboxes and record players — a proverbial candy shop for vinyl collectors. Only blocks away from Amoeba Records, it holds its own by providing rareties, test presses, and originals by some of my favorite bands. I have bought some of my favorite records in their original form here. It’s easy to lose hours of time at one of their listening stations, taking in all the cracks and pops of their raw recordings. Thanks to this little gem, my record collection now tops 1000.
California Science Center – 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles CA 90037
I am a total nerd for anything science and, living in LA, i’m so lucky to have The California Science Center at my fingertips. Their permanent exhibits are free to the public so its always fun to be able to stop by and see an old favorite like the World of Life or the space shuttle Endeavour. Each visit yields a new learning, and with it, a better understanding and appreciation of the world we live in,
Mama Shelter – 6500 Selma Ave, Los Angeles CA 90028
Mama Shelter is one of my newest favorite bars/hotel. It offers a warm and welcoming vibe, with neon signs, chalkboards with drawings on the ceilings, foozball tables and candy machines. During the summer months, the rooftop bar is must-visit with my girlfriends and co-workers, as we sip on sangria and watch the sun set over Hollywood.
+Have some Los Angeles favorites yourself? Let us know in the comments below!
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