Los Angeles tends to be the beginning, or the end, of many a memorable adventure. It was the launch pad and the landing strip for Hunter S. Thompson’s “fear and loathing” – and at least a million less famous trips. But LA and its sunny sprawl can play host to an idyllic, self-contained road trip.
It might already be known as a driving city, but such functionality has no place in your vacation mindset. No matter where you’re starting from – east or west, the Valley or downtown – you and your car (and whoever you take along) can make more than just a day of it, particularly with three Four Seasons outposts to call home base. Here, the local spots our knowledgeable staffers say should most certainly have a place on your itinerary.
The provenance of hipsters and the creative class, these East Side neighbourhoods are the perfect foil for, or respite after, a day of culture.
Gareth Kanter’s breakfast window (1608 1/2 Sunset Blvd) is the perfect place to start your day – on the go. Try the scrambled eggs on toast, served with a sprinkling of Parmesan and delicate shaved ham. The pastries are tops, too. We recommend taking your snack, or even just your coffee, a couple of blocks south, where you can picnic on the banks of Echo Park Lake.
What Cactus Store’s (1505 1/2 Echo Park Ave) name doesn’t convey is the Zen-like atmosphere of this tiny piece of the desert that’s been transported to Echo Park Avenue. Pick up a zero-effort plant, or just browse the needles of hundreds of unique cacti sourced from around the globe. And yes, these plants travel – that is, they ship.
It’s a little on the dark side, but this creative cocktail bar (2810 Hyperion Ave), with rotating DJs and a massive outdoor space, is home to some excellent dance parties. Not your thing? Try the competition: The Friend, a cosier but no less buzzy spot just down the street, with pinball.
Los Angeles is home to some of the country’s best endowed, and best curated, museums. By all means, check out the Broad (pronounced “brode,” as in it rhymes with “road”) and LACMA, but don’t miss the Arts District, a section of LA’s former industrial home that was recently settled by contemporary galleries and has since been redeveloped with them in mind.
Ori Menashe and his wife, pastry chef Genevieve Gergis, brought fine Mediterranean dining to LA’s Industrial District with the incomparable Bestia. But they may have bested themselves with their new homage to Middle Eastern cuisine (500 Mateo St). Menashe and Gergis mined their family backgrounds – Israel, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt – to devise dishes like a duck nduja hummus, oyster mushroom kabobs and a tagine with braised Wagyu beef.
Aren’t feeling like a whole sit-down situation? Want the best taco in town? Jump the river to Boyle Heights and find Mariscos Jalisco (3040 E. Olympic Blvd). Just a humble food truck, it’s the source of the most celebrated fried shrimp taco in Los Angeles, maybe the world. Food critics flock here; there’s nothing else like it.
Part of the ground level for Los Angeles’ once burgeoning, now established contemporary arts scene, Davida Nemeroff’s expansive Arts District space (2276 E. 16th St) hosts riveting exhibits from some of the industry’s most exciting artists, like David Korty and Anna Rosen. While you’re in the area, stop by Hauser & Wirth’s outsize East Third Street location – on the Arts District’s most developed strip (coffee shops and boutiques galore) – which hosts more established names, like Alexander Calder.
The most famous zip code. If you can pry yourself away from the legendary pool at Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel), or want to do something with all the good energy you picked up at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, this neighbourhood is a perfect jumping-off point for some of the best shopping, recreation and sightseeing LA has to offer.
The twin shops (537 N. La Cienega Blvd) that René Holguin, the son of a bootmaker, built on this strip of La Cienega have come to embody a whole modern Western lifestyle, not just a look: There are unisex ponchos and shirting and roughshod leather laptop cases and palo santo for days. It’s not simply where you’ll find something for the person who has everything, it’s where you’ll find something for everyone.
You have to book your tour ahead of time, but it’s well worth it to view Weisman’s private collection in an astounding 1920s villa (265 N. Carolwood Drive). It includes work by modern masters like Giacometti and Rauschenberg, as well as a trove of abstract expressionist works: de Kooning, Rothko and Frankenthaler. . . . The pop gods are here too, including Warhol and Lichtenstein. This is a museum-worthy collection, on view just for you and yours.
Don’t be misled by the word “temple.” This is just a place to chill (17190 Sunset Blvd). Waterfalls. A lake. Fountains. Flower beds. Walking paths. Aren’t you feeling better already? Founded by yogi Paramahansa Yogananda in the Pacific Palisades, a quick drive from Beverly Hills, this relaxing spot (a favourite of Elvis Presley) is on your road to wellness. “It’s a quiet oasis” to wander around or just sit and meditate says Kisha Franklin, Concierge Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.
Gorgeous, unending beaches; the freshest food going straight into the finest cuisine; vineyards upon vineyards: Malibu is California dreaming. And for guests of
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, set in the Santa Monica mountains, it’s just a stone’s throw – or a car ride – away.
“Tony will come around and fill your plate with food,” Franklin says. “It’s a true Malibu local restaurant.” The thing about Malibu is, while luxurious, it’s low-key. And this is the kind of spot (23410 Civic Center Way) that draws the residents: fresh, lively Greek food – saganaki cheese served flaming, baby octopus straight from a charcoal grill – a beautiful terrace, and loads of charm.
“A lot of people will go to Paradise Cove, but Point Dume (Cliffside Drive and Birdview Avenue) is a little further out and more private, more local, and just beautiful,” Franklin says. Take in the views of Point Dume’s cliffs and bluffs, and the solitude you might enjoy even more. It offers all the stunning beauty of the California coastline, but with fewer tourists.
A highlight of Malibu is its proximity to the rolling hills of wine country. Nadine Jurchynsky, Chief Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, recommends Cornell Winery (29975 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills) and its unbelievably charming tasting room, with vintages sourced from local wineries. Another option is Malibu Family Wine, where you can look out over the 1,000-acre Saddlerock Ranch estate while you sip.
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