The 17 best things to do in West Hollywood
This dark, old-school comedy club is a must-visit just for the history alone—and thankfully for an injection of must-see talent in the past few years. Three separate stages host a monstrous array of stand-ups more or less every night of the week. Sometimes the acts reek of comedic desperation, but that smell is never sweeter than in the place where it belongs. The show rooms are haunted by the ghosts of Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor and Andy Kaufman. Marc Maron was the door man here. ’Nuff said.
Sleeping baskets on the roof, communal kitchens and a revolving-door salon of artists. Nope, not a Burning Man camp: This is the Schindler House, designed by Austrian architect Rudolf Schindler, who built it as a dual-family residence. These days, it’s home to the MAK Center, a Vienna-based institute that runs a fantastic program of events in the space (think experimental fashion shows, innovative performance art and concerts of new compositions). From Wednesday to Sunday, you can tour the house and imagine yourself as part of the freewheeling L.A. bohemia of the 1920s and 1930s.
This storied club has a rich musical history: Randy Newman got his start here, and Elton John made his US debut on its stage in 1970. It hasn’t lapsed into irrelevance in the time since, and you’ll see on-the-rise bands sell out the space on a weekly basis. The sound is great and the views are decent from almost anywhere in the room—just stay out from under the balcony.
This art gallery-like furniture store (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) is great if you’re in the market for luxury midcentury-inspired furnishings. But chances are you don’t need a couch at this moment. You do, however, need to visit the space for its semi-secret rooftop. Architect James Gillam topped off the retail space with a park that overlooks the surrounding Hollywood Hills and Pacific Design Center.
This long-standing indie book shop has been a staple amidst L.A. bookworms since 1975. The variety of stock at Book Soup is huge and diverse (60,000 titles to be exact), even if the space itself is a little squeezed. It’s also a regular stop on literary luminaries’ book tours.
The Abbey’s unwavering success is also one of its downsides. Not so very long ago, it was the nucleus of gay life in West Hollywood, but as its popularity has grown, increasingly the crowd (particularly at night) seems to be made up of tourists and a hodgepodge of bar flies. All that said, make no mistake, the Abbey is the granddaddy of gay bars in Los Angeles and as such it still rules the roost. Other bars and clubs come and go, but WeHo locals still worship at the altar of the Abbey from time to time.
Just below the star-studded Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood’s mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard has long been the epicenter of a unique mix of sleaze and glam. It’s nearly impossible to miss the building-sized billboards, kitsch—Mel’s, Pink Dot, Carney’s, Saddle Ranch—and legendary clubs that line the famous street. Though much of the music scene has moved east, you’ll still find industry types mingling in Sunset Plaza’s high-end restaurants and boutiques.
In its 30-plus years as a Sunset Strip stalwart, the Roxy has been both a major player (hosting early Springsteen and Guns N’ Roses shows) and a disappointing has-been (insert name of horrible ’80s hair band here). Following a 2014 deal promoter Goldenvoice, the Roxy has seen a surge of worthwhile talent stopping by.
One of the many beautiful things about this Hollywood Hills fixture is that it’s barely changed throughout the decades. The hotel and restaurant (and, on the edge of the property, the outstanding Chateau Hanare) still attracts the brazen and the beautiful (everyone from Led Zeppelin to Lindsay Lohan has stayed here; John Belushi OD-ed in bungalow 3); it still offers a quintessentially glamorous L.A. experience; and it still promises its guests absolute discretion.
Founded in 1952, the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries has sinced amassed the largest inventory of LGBTQ materials on earth. This West Hollywood outpost showcases exhibitions that confront queer art and culture.