Mira Mikati serves up her favourite spots for all things fun in the heart of California’s surf & skate culture.
When is the best time to visit?
All year long! Though, if you’re looking for a less tourist-laden trip, head to the boardwalks and canals when summer transitions into fall (September-November is ideal). Springtime offers some of the best weather, while summer time brings peak tourist season, peak surfing conditions and peak temperatures. Basically, there’s no going wrong.
What to pack?
Bikinis and wetsuits for the beach; sunnies, shorts, and tees for the streets; hoodies for the evenings, and sliders for all occasions. (Shop our selections at the bottom of the page!)
Where to stay?
The Rose Hotel is a surfer’s dream. A low-key lodge with artsy flair, this boho resort is a far cry from LA’s brash flamboyance with its understated style (think Shaker-inspired striped rugs, whitewashed walls, and beachy wooden furniture). Spend your mornings in its cosy courtyard before snagging a board from reception and hitting the beach.
Looking for something more beach-central? Shutters On The Beach sits on the verge of white sand shores, channeling a more old-school vibe with its 1920s Cape Cod facade and prime Santa Monica location. Shuttered doors are a given, while its sun-drenched pool and luxe spa are added bonuses to this homestyle resort.
In search of your own California Dream? Hotel Bel-Air is your modern oasis nestled in the luscious landscape of the southern west coast. Expect extravagance, beauty, and plenty of pampering.
Start your day sweating it out at one of Rise Nation’s climbing classes as you work towards that Jessica Alba bum without the hum-drum of a normal workout. Bonus: You’re more likely to spot Bradley Cooper here than on the street.
Best places to grab a bite?
Sitting along Malibu’s famed pier, Malibu Farm offers all-day, farm-to-table eats. Locally sourced, organic meals for every family member plus sweeping views of the ocean combine for a casually-cool California experience. Book a group dinner, or wander to the end of the pier to fuel up before you hit the beach below.
Known for their fish sandwiches and artisanal loaves, Gjusta bakery serves up fresh-baked, specialty bread at their bustling Sunset Avenue location. Unassuming and charmingly boho in nature, this low-key deli offers everything from hearty sandwiches and fresh salads to flaky sweet pastries and kid-friendly pizzas.
Stop by Sqirl café in the Silver Lake neighbourhood for the best toast of your life. Originally founded as a jam company, this cosy restaurant still holds true to its heritage with a menu that’s revolves around its confiture roots. Thick slabs of brioche and country-inspired loaves are loaded with eclectic parings like house-made ricotta and, of course, the ubiquitous avocado toast.
For a trendy take on Italian food head to LA’s Bestia. Headed by a husband-and-wife duo, this industrial, trattoria eatery offers everything from artisanal cocktails, to hand-made pastas, wood-fire pizzas, and adventurous bone marrows. Innovative in nature, the menu takes diners out of their comfort zone with something more along the lines of a palette-pushing experience than a standard dinner.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Stop by their shop, or track down one of their mobile vans to get your hands on classic and vegan scoops. Made from scratch, you can’t go wrong with any flavour—just don’t miss the matcha.
Best way to spend your day?
Spend the day with friends and family at a few of LA’s best museums. Wander amongst the LACMA’s iconic installations like Richard Serra’s Monumental iron works and my personal favourite: Jesús Rafael Soto’s neon “Penetrable.” The newer BROAD offers more off-beat, eclectic modern works like Ellsworth Kelly and my all-time favourite, Takashi Murakami.
Or opt for the outdoors and spend the day hiking point Mugu where you can soak in the sun and wander along the coastline before heading to Brentwood Farmer’s Market to stock up on fresh, local produce.
Hotel Erwin holds the title of the only rooftop bar in Venice Beach. Located right on Pacific Avenue, it’s the ideal location to grab end-of-day drinks and watch lingering boardwalk-goers, rolling waves, and last of the sunset surfers and skateboarders.
Best place to shop?
Abbot Kinney Boulevard boasts wares for every style-hunter with booths offering everything from eco-friendly and punk apparel to athleisure and designer denim. They also have donuts for a quick re-charge as you make your way down the shopper’s row.
Best place for an adrenaline rush?
Definitely surfing the swells at Topanga and Malibu beaches.