Dream of having the confidence to travel solo?
Read my book Get Lost to find out how!
Greetings Internet Stranger! Where to start your 24 hours in Los Angeles? It’s been said that Los Angeles is a city of neighborhoods, and what neighborhood could be more famous than the glamorous Beverly Hills? Like all right-thinking Americans, my first impression of Beverly Hills came from a VHS copy of the Shelley Long cult classic, Troop Beverly Hills. I dreamed of wearing a fabulous lined khaki cape, toasting smores at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and selling cookies with Robin Leach and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
But I had an even better time in my 24 hours in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills than my wildest girlhood dreams. I dined at Spago, I saw a celebrity in a man-bun, and…I thought a lot about Anne Frank. Join me for the day, and by the end of the 24 hours in Los Angeles, we’ll both be saying, “Beverly Hills, what a thrill!”
24 Hours in Los Angeles
Where to Stay?
Ordinarily this is the point in the 24 hours in Los Angeles when I would recommend a place to stay. However I can’t do that because when I arrived at 1 in the morning at my hotel in Los Angeles after a lengthy flight from New York City, I was informed by my hotel that they had canceled my reservation due to an unspecified problem with my credit card. (Narrator: The credit card was fine.)
Then they kicked me out into the night with no car and no place to stay. I did find something at the last minute, but I can’t recommend it. Next time I spend 24 hours in Los Angeles, I’m just staying at the Chateau Marmont!
But if you want to check out great deals at almost 3000 hotels in Los Angeles, just click here! There are so many options to choose from, so I’m one-hundo-percent positive you’ll find something perfect in your budget.
24 Hours in Los Angeles
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
LA is usually sunny, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
24 Hours in Los Angeles
Morning: Tourific Escapes Food Tour
So what’s the first thing you think of when I say Los Angeles Food? Probably it’s like a kale smoothie? Or the Master Cleanse? Well, believe me when I tell you that the Tourific Escapes Hollywood Sites & Bites Food Tour has no smoothies at all. Nor does it have any water mixed with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Instead it has five delicious snacks from Mexican to Italian to Jewish deli. Also there’s quite a bit of the History of Old Hollywood thrown in! I don’t want to give away all of the secrets of the tour, but I’d be delighted to share with you…
approximately top 5: 24 hours in los angeles food edition
1) Dolby Theater
I’m going to largely limit myself to discussion of the food and not of the Hollywood fun facts. We’d be here all week if I told you everything I learned! Plus, I want to encourage you to take the tour for yourself. But one stop I definitely want to highlight is the Dolby Theater. It’s a bit of a hidden gem because it’s located in the Hollywood and Highland shopping center.
Some of you might be thinking, Boring! Who cares about some stupid movie theater? I’ve never even been in a movie theater because I watch all my movies on Netflix. Well, Internet Stranger, the Dolby Theater isn’t just any performing arts venue. It is also home to the Academy Awards, aka the Oscars. It has always been the home to Oscar. The Academy Awards used to be so small that they were given at a banquet at the Roosevelt Hotel.
But the little golden man has been given out at the Dolby (formerly the Kodak Theater) since 2002. For any film buff, getting your photo taken while walking up the stairs to the Dolby is a dream come true. I insisted on yelling, “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille!” Then I was escorted out by security for making a scene.
But then it was all good because I got to hang out with these elephants in the sunshine! I love LA!
2) Gourmet Pastries
I think of the first stop on our food tour as being the breakfast stop. After all, a pop tart was involved, and everyone knows fried dough filled with sugar is the best way to start your day. I felt pretty shocked to learn that anyone in Los Angeles eats baked goods. But maybe that’s why Angelenos spend so much time jogging and biking on the beach, so they can enjoy carbs and sugar and still fit into their Speedos.
We were lucky on this tour because we had two different kinds of pastry. The first was our choice of cupcake. I always say that my hometown of New York City started this gourmet trend, thanks to famous fictional New Yorker Carrie Bradshaw and her love of Magnolia Bakery. So I wasn’t thrilled to see LA trying to co-opt our style. But one bite of my red velvet cupcake with real cream cheese frosting made me forget all about the East Coast-West Coast rivalry.
The second pastry was the aforementioned Fancy Pop Tart. Apparently gourmet pop tarts are to LA what gourmet cupcakes are to New York City. But it makes sense that Los Angeles would glamorize a childhood treat, since so many people in Hollywood are trying to seem younger than they are. I’d have even deeper thoughts on the subject, but I forgot to write them down, as I was distracted by the wonders of my Nutella Pop Tart.
2) Mexican Food at Loteria Grill
It’s just sick and wrong to go to Los Angeles and not eat some tacos. Even I have to admit that the Mexican food in LA is about a frillion times better than the Mexican food in New York. We stopped for some tacos and corn cakes at Loteria Grill. It used to be at the famous Los Angeles Farmers Market. Now it’s just a brick and mortar shop of its own. The name comes from a card game called Loteria, which is apparently like BINGO. But it seems like it would be harder because there’s more letters in Loteria.
As I munched my snacks, I tried to figure out what makes the Mexican food in Los Angeles so tasty. I think it’s three things: a proper amount of fire in the salsa, a better quality of avocado, and a rich and tasty corn masa dough for the tortillas instead of those flour abominations you often see on the East Coast. But the best part of eating at Loteria was their creative aqua fresca drinks. They change the flavors daily, so I can’t guarantee my melon drink will be available, but you should snap it up if it is.
4) Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza is such a famous restaurant that I had actually dined there alone the day before. The owner, Nancy Silverton, is one of the most famous Italian chefs/bakers in the country. She is especially famous for her sourdough pizza crust. But I had no objection to stopping here for a second day in a row.
First of all, we got to sample three different pizzas: a white, a red, and a garlic, none of which I had eaten on the previous day. (The garlic was my favorite. So pungent! The only downside would be if I ran into Matt Damon walking around LA and he fell madly in love with me, but then I had to kiss him with garlic breath.)
Speaking of celebrity encounters, on our way to Pizzeria Mozza, we saw a very adorable dog walking a pretentious-looking fellow with shades and a man bun. Everyone else was looking at the dog, but I was digging deep into my well of celebrity gossip knowledge to figure out who the man was. “By George, that chap in the man bun is Shia LaBeouf!” I cried. Then everyone else in the tour van stared at him until he made a rude face at us and walked away. Sometimes celebrities act the exact way you would expect them to behave when you meet them.
5) Greenblatt’s Deli
I’m Jewish, so it’s definitely not offensive for me to say that Jewish people have had a great influence on the development of Hollywood and the motion picture business. (I mean, I don’t think it’s offensive for anyone to say that, but this is the Internet, and you never know what will make people angry.) So I was excited to stop at Greenblatt’s Deli for an authentic pastrami sandwich.
Greenblatt’s is just as much a part of Hollywood history as the Hollywood sign. It’s been around since 1926 and everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Marilyn Monroe has eaten here. Our guide, whom I shall call Norma because that isn’t her name, said she often sees celebrities shopping here. (They’re not just famous for their sandwiches; they’re also a wine store.)
The pastrami was succulent and satisfying, but the thing that made me believe this deli is the real deal is that they stock Dr. Brown’s soda. (Try the Cel-Ray soda if you want a real deli experience. It’s has actual celery in it.)
6) Mashti Malone’s
So I didn’t feel surprised to find delicious Mexican, Italian, and Jewish deli food in Los Angeles. But I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting Persian ice cream to pop up on this tour. But Mashti Malone’s, which like almost all good things in LA is in a random nothing building by the side of a road, serves some of the most famous ice cream in Los Angeles.
Its owner, Mashti Shirvani, is an Iranian immigrant who is as famous for his rosewater ice cream as Marlon Brando is for mumbling or Marilyn Monroe is for standing over grates. It’s very likely that you’ll get to meet him personally if you go on the tour because he likes to greet his guests.
You get to choose your own flavor of your scoop of the tour. I can’t guarantee my favorite will be on the menu, but I was extremely happy with my ginger rosewater. This was no artificial essence of ginger we’re talking about here! My ice cream had a real kick to it, so you knew the ginger was freshly grated. But I like an ice cream that can satisfy my sweet tooth and cure my cold at the same time. (Do people get colds in Los Angeles? It doesn’t seem possible with the weather.)
24 Hours in Los Angeles
Afternoon: Museum of Tolerance
So we spent the morning in Los Angeles indulging in food and Shia LaBeouf sightings in Hollywood. Then we’ll spend the evening…indulging in food in Beverly Hills. But is there anywhere a girl can go in Los Angeles if she’s looking to feed her soul? The answer is the Museum of Tolerance. The Museum of Tolerance, open since 1993, was inspired by the work of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. (If you want to watch a completely insane movie with a Nazi hunter main character who is kind of based on Wiesenthal, please rent Boys From Brazil.)
It is rare to find a spot in Los Angeles to dedicated to quiet reflection that doesn’t include even one spa treatment. I hope to encourage you to visit this fascinating place with…
Three unfun facts: Museum of tolerance
1) How Did I Learn About It?
I found out about the Museum of Tolerance by watching a YouTube video of Arnold Schwarzenegger. (That’s really the only time the Governator has made a helpful suggestion to me about this blog. I tried his favorite restaurant in Graz, but I didn’t care for it.) Schwarzenegger was responding to Donald Trump’s claim that there were “good people on both sides” of the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Schwarzenegger pointed out that he had grown up in post WWII Austria with the original Nazis and there are no good ones. Then he recommended supporting The Museum of Tolerance. So here I am! Thanks, Arnie!
2) What Kind of Exhibits Do They Have?
Since The Museum of Tolerance got its start from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, it’s not surprising that many of its exhibits relate to the Shoah. When I was there, I saw an exhibit on the life of Anne Frank. She has been a heroine of mine since I read her diary when I was a teenager. The whole exhibit was fascinating, especially the interviews with her family members who survived the Holocaust.
But for me, the most touching part of the exhibit was seeing some of her collection of movie star postcards and film magazines. (Frank was a rabid film fanatic, and one of her favorite film stars was Deanna Durbin. She even dreamed of being a movie star one day.) I was glad to have the opportunity to remember Frank in a city that meant so much to her. As frivolous as the movie industry can be, entertainment has a tremendous power to get us through dark times.
3) What Else Can You Find At the Museum?
The Museum of Tolerance isn’t limited to talking about the persecution of Jewish people. There were exhibits on everything from legal discrimination on Latinos in the United States to aid for Syrian refugees. (This tent above was part of the exhibit on Syria.)
I was saddened, but not shocked to learn that Mexican children were once sent to segregated schools in the state of California. This practice became illegal in the 1947 case Mendez v. Westminster. Many say this case helped pave the way for the decision in Brown v. Board of Ed. I don’t understand why Mendez v. Westminster isn’t better known. But now you know about it, and I know about it, so it’s a start.
24 Hours in Los Angeles
Late Afternoon: Beverly Canon Garden
Now that we’ve thought out deep thoughts for the day, it’s time to be frivolous. So we’re going to walk the 23 minutes to Beverly Hills. (Though I’m from NYC, I try to not hate LA and its sunny ways. But the one concession I refuse to make to West Coast living is drinking. I’ll walk any distance that’s less than an hour. Suck on that, LA!)
All over the world, Beverly Hills is synonymous with luxury and…what’s the word I’m looking for? Yes, moolah. But there’s one hidden gem in Beverly Hills that will make you feel Very Fancy Indeed, yet it costs not a penny. That is the Beverly Canon Gardens. It costs absolutely nothing to get it, and you can stay as long as you want.
I like to buy an iced tea from one of the little cafes, sit at any available table, and read and people watch until it’s time for my dinner reservation. The one thing I didn’t do was take a very good photo of the park because I was afraid I’d be mistaken for a paparazzi and get kicked out.
24 Hours in Los Angeles
Evening: Dinner at Spago
OK, now it’s time for true Beverly Hills luxury. I’m taking you to Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago. (I guess the theme for this day is Austrians who have moved to California.) The original Spago was actually in West Hollywood, but this is the only Spago still open in Los Angeles. (There’s another in Las Vegas.) There’s nothing to make one feel like a Big Shot than sitting in front of Spago’s terrifying, giant black fireplace sipping on a Japanese whiskey.
Speaking of movie stars, did I have any sightings? I don’t believe so, though I did see some fellow who I assume must have a lot of money because he was wearing sunglasses indoors and holding a curvaceous lady in tight jeans on each arm.
I mean, I assume he’s rolling in the green because those women didn’t seem all that interested in him for his mind. I also saw a middle-aged couple having their anniversary dinner who kept whispering about me and wondering who I was. I’m nobody! Just a young lady who doesn’t mind eating by herself at the most famous restaurant in LA.
24 Hour Tip
When I went to Spago, the waitress suggested ordering four courses: an appetizer, a pasta, a main, and a dessert. This definitely wasn’t too much food, but I suggest pacing yourself and varying lighter dishes with heavier ones. It would be very embarrassing to explode inside Spago and mess up their fireplace.
I took my own advice and began with a prosciutto and pear salad with burrata and tomato spheres. Except for the tomato blobs, which burst in my mouth like a perfect summer tomato throwing itself on a grenade to save its best friend, this was a simple dish. The high quality of the ingredients was what made it shine.
24 Hour Treat: Squid Ink Pasta
This was the winning dish of the night. The briny squid ink pasta came with a tender octopus Bolognese. I had never had octopus Bolognese before, nor had I ever eaten squid ink and octopus in the same dish. It was as if the ancient feud between octopus and squid were being resolved in one satisfying dish. Also, the color of the squid ink pasta matched the color of the petrifying black fireplace.
Our main course is a crispy sea bass with corn and lobster. If you had told me when I first went to Los Angeles at the age of 8 that one day I’d be dining on lobster at Spago alone, I would have just about died from happiness. Just like the tomato blobs in the pear salad, this dish tasted exactly like summer. This was a bit odd because I was visiting Los Angeles in the fall. But I guess every day is summer in Los Angeles? I feel like that was the entire moral of La La Land.
24 Hour Treat: Nougat Glace
Speaking of endless summer, how about some nougat glace with peaches. I was worried the heat from the Devil’s Fireplace would melt it, but happily that was not an issue. Some dishes have an intriguing complexity, so no two bites are the same. Other dishes pretty much taste the same all the way down, but that one taste is so delightful, you could keep eating it for hours. This was the latter kind of dish. It was the perfect end to our 24 hours in Los Angeles.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Los Angeles!
What would you do with 24 hours in Los Angeles? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Los Angeles? Who did that couple on their anniversary think that I was? And will Donald Trump ever take up Schwarzenegger’s suggestion to visit the Museum of Tolerance? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Los Angeles. If you have time for another 24 hours in Los Angeles, try this itinerary.