Museums & more
LACMA's collections and particularly its exhibitions and programming have long been the most impressive in the city. From Chris Burden's iconic entrance installation Urban Light, a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around LA, to blockbuster exhibitions like James Turrell and Rain Room, LACMA's artwork is essential. Its collections span hundreds of years and thousands of miles, from the Pavilion for Japanese Art to the Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
Miracle Mile was the first commercial development in LA designed expressly for the benefit of drivers, and so a former department store makes an apt home for this museum of car culture. A 2015 redesign has since turned the automotive history museum into more of a high-tech gallery with about 150 cars on display. There's a glimpse into the rise of car culture in Southern California, but that mostly takes a backseat to a focus on the progress, dominance and dazzling good looks of the automobile. You'll find a mix of famous Hollywood cars, sumptuously swooping vintage vehicles and high-performance supercars.
Back in 1875, a group of amateur paleontologists discovered animal remains in the pits at Rancho La Brea, which bubbled with asphalt from a petroleum lake under what is now Hancock Park. Some 140 years later, the pros are still at work here, having dragged more than 3.5 million fossils from the mire in the intervening years. Many of these specimens are now on display in this delightfully old-fashioned museum. Outside, the pits still bubble with black goo—in summer, you can watch paleontologists at work in the excavation of Pit 91 and inhale the nasty tang of tar in the air.
L.A.’s only public showcase devoted to contemporary craft and community-based folk art continues to broaden its programming. Shows could take in anything from Venetian glassmaking to American printmaking, the circus-themed dioramas of Sonny King to a retrospective of work by Hungarian designer Eva Zeisel.
Hancock Park—not to be confused with the affluent neighborhood of the same name—sits atop a literal mine of goo-soaked preshistoric bones. You don't need to pay for admission to the Page Museum to walk around the Pits, and the same goes for the opposite end of the park, where you can pose in the Instragrammable Urban Light sculpture without a ticket to LACMA. The green expanse between the two institutions is picnic and dog-friendly, and overall a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors.
It might be a gorgeous Art Deco relic, but the 800-capacity El Rey runs a roster that's decidedly dust-free. From Fuzz to the Raveonettes, Dizzee Rascal to Autolux, the schedule is full of acts du jour, with the older but still-interesting likes of Roky Erickson and Nick Lowe also appearing. Sound and sightlines are both excellent.
The history of moviemaking will have a home in Los Angeles in 2017, when the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is scheduled to open. Located next to LACMA in the Wilshire May Company buildling and in a new and expanded space designed by Pulitzer Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum will feature gallery space, theaters (including a 1,000-seat space), screening rooms and other event spaces. The Academy's collection includes millions of photographs and thousands of scripts, films, posters and drawings.
Restaurants & bars
Built in 1929, the building first served as Charlie Chaplin's office, then the birthplace of LA's beloved Campanile and, after Campanile shuttered, La Brea Bakery. Yet while history certainly plays a part—the importance of a quality bakery has been carried forward—République is a refreshing addition to LA's French bistro scene. Some preliminary advice: Should the phrase "Hold the bread, please" cross your mind, hold your tongue instead—the freshly baked breads and pastries, as well as the charcuterie and cheese choices, are phenomenal.
The sleek outdoor Stark Bar resides next to its sister restaurant Ray's at LACMA. Given its 1960s-style aesthetic, Don Draper would feel right at home ordering his signature Old-Fashioned, or, if he felt so inclined, a creative cocktail from the impressive drink menu. To nibble, you'll find a smaller, simpler menu of Ray's Mediterranean-esque food—head next door if you're looking for a full course.
Nancy Silverton is credited with single-handedly introducing Angelenos to the joys of the fresh, flavorsome loaf. In the two-plus decades since her store opened, she's become a household name and her store has grown into an international operation. The bakery's newest home on the corner of La Brea and 6th Street is larger than ever, with plenty of space to munch on turkey avocado sandwiches followed by arguably one of LA's best chocolate chip cookies.
Open since 1936, Tom Bergin's Public House has been gracing us with their exceptional Irish coffee and all around excellence for nearly 80 years, serving as a gathering place for the neighborhood—and for those who have to travel a little farther to get a taste of the homeland. Owner Derek Schreck and beverage director Brandi Boles have revamped the place with modern updates, an elevated menu and a creative cocktail list.
Molly Malone's has been brewing up its own little pint of Dublin in LA since 1969, and showcasing musical talent (and a great beer list) every step of the way. Rock, Irish folk, country—the lineup spans the genre gamut, and with Molly's stellar acoustics, it's one of LA's better pubs for catching a show. True, the menu sometimes reads as less than traditional—ask for O'Brien Fries and you'll get a plate of French—but the Kildare Hot Corned Beef Sandwich is as Irish as they come.
One of the city's best bakeries is an unexpected hit inside LACMA. C+M is Coffee + Milk, which they have along with nostalgic throwbacks like pop tarts and Oreo cookies. You won't find ordinary retro favorites; instead, Intelligentsia is served with Clover milk and must-try handheld pies are buttery and refined. There's also hand-blended milkshakes—adults can request theirs spiked—and one of the best chocolate chip cookies around.
Cookies abound at Milk Jar Cookies, where baking from scratch in small batches is the standard. Favorite standbys (read: the chocolate chip variety) get spiced up alongside seasonal flavors like chocolate-covered banana, birthday cookie or peppermint candy cane. Pair your treat with a glass of milk from Broguiere's Dairy or a cup of joe from Handsome Roasters.
Whether you're a veteran LACMA goer or first-timer, this museum gift shop thoroughly blurs the lines between want and need-right-now. Sure, the prices are a bit steep, but with selections like stationery, posters, books and other trinkets outfitted in prints from the latest exhibition, it's like you're taking a piece of the museum home with you (a tangible souvenir alongside your candid Urban Light lamp posts pic).
Dubbed one of LA's best kept secrets, Liz's Antique Hardware is equal parts fine art gallery and equal parts antique haven. The top level of this unsuspecting gallery space, the Loft at Liz's, is home to contemporary works of both emerging and established artists and artisans, while the first level serves up a treasure trove of furnishings, light fixtures, cabinet knobs and more. Shop contemporary and antique items from a range of styles including Art Deco, Midcentury, Victorian and more.
Housed in a 1920s warehouse, Desiree Kohan's eponymous boutique is chock-full of sought-after labels and emerging designer tags like Helmut Lang, Azzedine Alaia, Sophia Kokosalaki and Juan Carlos Obando. It's no wonder the airy outpost has become a cult favorite among LA's well-heeled. Thumb through on-trend tops, dresses, rompers, jackets—you name it, as well as coveted leather handbags, accessories, jewelry, home goods and more.
This isn't your average beauty supply store. A staple fixture in LA's beauty scene since 1947, this family-run cosmetics shop offers a curated mix of American, European and Japanese skincare and beauty products exclusive to the store. Helmed by neighboring boutique owner Desiree Kohan (of Des Kohan) and her family, Wilshire Beauty stocks top-of-the-line brands including Dermalogica, Yonka, Caudalie, Ojon, the Thymes, Voluspa, Bliss, Bare Escentuals, Stila, the Art of Shaving and the like.
Bordering LA's Miracle Mile, LA Premier Flowers serves up a medley of plush bouquets, custom arrangements and event services for your forthcoming flower-filled affair. Don't be fooled by the small size of this unsuspecting shop. This blooming outpost has dished out stunning arrangements for the most sought-after events in town: the Grammy Awards, the Oscars, the Emmy Awards Governors Ball, celebrity weddings—you name it.
This neighborhood toy haven caters to your inner child with more at-home games, building Legos, dolls and toy cars than you'll know what to do with. A hidden gem in the heart of Miracle Mile, the specialty shop stocks unique and hard-to-find collectibles, as well as staples in the toy chest like rainy day puzzles, stuffed animals, costumes, toy trains and eco-dough.