In case you hadn’t noticed – summer’s here. Beyond the stereotypical options like going to the beach or going up to the mountains, there are plenty of ways to escape (or revel in) the summer sun in Los Angeles.
One of the best ways to cool off during the summer is the hang by a pool. But this is Los Angeles – the pool lifestyle is one of the most popular choices for Angelenos so deciding which one is crucial.
If there was ever a pool that exemplifies summer, youth, and fun: it would be the Roosevelt Hotel’s pool.
During the morning hours (unless it’s the weekend), the pool is populated only by people who get up early (which is no one in LA), people using the pool for actual swimming (exercise!), and those that just want a peaceful moment before the stresses of life (and other people) creep in.
As the day progresses, and the sun gets hotter: the midday through early evening set pour in. If it’s the weekend, these hours include a DJ, enjoying cocktails or a glass of champagne in the pool on your floatie, and a very sceney vibe. If it’s a weekday – there’s still the possibility for all of the above, but way more manageable (i.e. not so many drunk bro’s.)
Nighttime brings a totally new crowd altogether. This is the crowd that mixes and mingles around the Tropicana Bar. Swimsuits make way for leather jackets, and stilettos (unless it’s Night Swim – no description needed.)
The Chateau Marmont - 8221 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90046. (323) 656-1010
Far harder to get into than the Roosevelt Pool (which you’ll be thankful for) is the Chateau pool. First things first: Chateau doesn’t need you. You need it.
The Chateau has something that many LA hotels do not – a wonderful garden. After passing through the gate by valet, the path is shaded by a mature canopy of trees and wonderful shrubs and flowers. Around a couple of the bungalows and the pool becomes visible through a bamboo forest. Small, oval-shaped, and always the perfect temperature: this pool is glamorous. Also in the area are a Ping-Pong table, a tiki bar (though not always), and beautiful gardens and fountains down by the poolside cabins.
This is not a place to party. Not a place to be seen (well not to be on show rather.) It is a place to relax and feel like you deserve it. Because you do.
Food and drinks can be ordered to the pool via a wonderful old-fashioned phone, or by asking one of the white-clad pool boys that are always at your service if the tiki bar is open.
The Avalon - 9400 W. Olympic Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 277-5221
Though completely different in just about every way from Chateau, The Avalon Hotel pool is equally as hard to enter. Mainly because the hotel almost always enforces a strict guest-only policy. More tantalizing is the fact that the hotel restaurant, Oliverio, surrounds the pool with tables and cabanas. So you can eat – but don’t touch the water.
If you’re lucky enough to take a plunge, this kidney-shaped pool will definitely cool you off. The hotel, decorated by Kelly Wearstler, is chic. Its aesthetic brings the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, jazz, 50’s/60’s posh, to mind.
The Beverly Hills Hotel - 9641 Sunset Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 276-2251
When everyone else in the world dreams of lounging by a pool in Southern California – this is what they’re thinking of. There are few places in LA (certainly not pools) that have such a demanding presence. It’s almost as if the pool, as well as the hotel, have personalities. The history oozes from all points of the Pink Palace. If there’s one image that personifies everything about this place (hint hint), it’s Terry O’Neill’s picture of Faye Dunaway the morning after her Best Actress win for Network.
The pool is big. The staff is friendly. And the people-watching is fantastic. Life’s good.
The Andaz - 8401 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 656-1234
You may not think you know this hotel – but you do. This is the famed Hyatt House, aka the Sunset Hyatt, aka the Riot House. This hotel is rock history and its current incarnation The Andaz (still owned by Hyatt) not only appreciates the history - it celebrates it.
Upstairs on the roof is a small pool similar in size to that at Chateau but with a great view of the entire city. High above the hustle and bustle of Sunset Boulevard this pool takes you far, far, away from Los Angeles to a true LaLaLand. Order some food, a drink, and get a tan.
Petit Ermitage - 8822 Cynthia Street West Hollywood, CA 90069. (310) 854-1114
Two words: salt water. Tucked away on a little street above Boys Town in West Hollywood is Le Petit Ermitage. On its rooftop sits one of the few salt-water pools in LA. It’s small, relatively shallow, and never crowded.
This spot feels more like a private members club as it is very difficult to reach unless you, or someone you know, is staying at the hotel. But when there’s a will – there’s a way.
Cinespia - 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard LA, CA 90038.
One of the best parts of summer in Los Angeles is Cinespia. For all of you who have yet to watch a great movie amongst the graves of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery – it is fantastic.
Each summer Cinespia plays movies on Saturday nights to crowds of thousands each week. From classics, to cult kitsch, to holiday-approriate titles: they play movies for everyone. And who doesn’t like to enjoy a picnic, glass of wine, and Coming to America the day after Independence Day?
Make sure to reserve your tickets in advance as they frequently sell out soon after going up for sale. Doors to the cemetery open a couple of hours before the movie starts but get there early so you have first pick of good seats.
Silent Movie Theater (Cinefamily) - 611 N. Fairfax Avenue LA, CA 90036. (323) 655-2510
Located in the Fairfax District, this theater has been around since 1942…. Almost two decades after talkies came out. The mix of movies (which is predominantly talkie by the way) is indescribably amazing. Its ultra-curated selection, old-time feel, and true interest in cinema make this a great place to beat the heat outside.
Twice a year LA diners get to not spend an arm and a leg going to the city’s top restaurants. Special prix fixe menus for lunch, dinner, or both, are available at each participating restaurant. This year it will be taking place July 14th through July 27th so get to booking folks!
Taking place the second Thursday of every month, Art Walk is centered on both Main and Spring between 4th and 7th Streets (but spills into the surrounding area as well.) Art of all types, food, people in the streets: a very cosmopolitan and fun experience. This is a great way to support local artists, enjoy a balmy night, as well as enjoying tasty food and drinks.
Hollywood Bowl - 2301 N. Highland Avenue LA, CA 90068. (323) 850-2000
Greek Theatre - 2700 N. Vermont Avenue LA, CA 90027. (323) 665-5857
Summer nights in LA are the best. It’s cool, the city’s rough edges can’t be seen, and people are out enjoying themselves. Both the Hollywood Bowl and Griffith Park’s Greek Theatre offer al fresco entertainment to thousands of Angelenos each summer season. Whatever kind of music you’re into – you’ll have the chance to see it. And who doesn’t like a bento box and some wine/beer while enjoying a concert?
All Canyons – especially Franklin Canyon
LA is blessed with many canyons to choose from when wanting to be out in the summer heat. The best one is Franklin Canyon. Why? Because it’s one of the few canyons in LA that actually offers shade. Our arid climate doesn’t allow for too many forests but Franklin somehow (as we’re not biologists here) has areas of dense foliage. There’s a wonderful lake, a turtle/koi/duck pond, and multiple hikes of varying difficulty.
Runyon: if you’re feeling like some exercise with your people-watching.
Bronson: caves, hikes, dusty nature.
Any canyon from Brentwood to Malibu: nature at its finest.
Places like Malibu, Orange County, and The Mountains – they’re all easy to get to. Catalina, however, isn’t. Only accessible by plane or boat – this is LA’s version of Capri. Away from the traffic, the smog, the pretentiousness, Malibu is a peaceful (and absolutely gorgeous!) getaway spot.
Take the ferry over from Long Beach or San Pedro, rent a golf cart, go snorkeling, grab a nice meal, and forget about the stress of life.
Orange County Beaches
If you want some of the best beaches in Southern California – head to Orange County. Laguna Beach and Dana Point are two of the most beautiful beach communities in the country. Make the hour or so drive down the 405 and the water is clean, blue, and oh so California.
UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden - 777 Tiverton Drive LA, CA 90024
Sometimes summer means it’s a little too hot outside. This is one of the few public gardens that is so shady and cool that no matter what temperature it is – it’s a great place to be outside.
The impressive collection of trees, shrubs and flowers from all over the world will take you away from LA; from anywhere really. Carve your name in the bamboo forest for posterity’s sake.
Nature in the City – Hancock Park
LA can be a relatively daunting place to get around by foot. To many Angelenos the idea of walking around a neighborhood for exercise would be as foreign a concept as snow.
Nicer areas of the city (like here in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood) aren’t as pedestrian friendly as older neighborhoods that are from a time when people actually walked. Case in point: Hancock Park.
You know this neighborhood; it’s the only inner-city neighborhood that reeks of money. It has way more class than Beverly Hills and has a decidedly East Coast vibe. Take a stroll up and down Larchmont (between Beverly and 1st) for the best Main Street USA in the West or around the intersection of 4th and Hudson for a peek at the finer side of life.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
LACMA - 5905 Wilshire Boulevard LA, CA 90036. (323) 857-6000
Proof that LA not only has art, but really great art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art holds more than 120,000 works in the largest art museum in the western United States.
- Madonna and Child Enthroned – Aelbrecht Bouts
- Portrait of Jacopo – Titian
- Multiple works by Rembrandt
- Still Life with Cherries - Cezanne
- Works by masters such as Renoir, Monet, and Gauguin
La Brea Tar Pits - 5801 Wilshire Boulevard LA, CA 90036. (323) 857-6300
This is not just a place for kids. It’s more like place to go back in time to when you were a kid and absolutely loved fossils and dinosaurs.
There are many parts of the Tar Pits that are open and free to the public. In fact, in many areas there is tar actually bubbling up in the middle of the grass.
There is a museum (which you do have to pay for) that houses many a pre-historic creature. Who doesn’t love a mammoth skeleton?
MOCA - 250 S. Grand Avenue LA, CA 90012. (213) 626-6222
Further proof for those who say LA doesn’t have art, let alone Modern Art: you’re wrong. MOCA is the place to go to beat the heat surrounded by Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Rauschenberg and Pollock (and almost 6,000 other works!)
17985 Pacific Coast Highway Pacific Palisades CA, 90272. (310) 440-7300 (The Getty Villa)
1200 Getty Center Drive LA, CA 90049. (310) 440-7300 (The Getty Center)
If you want ancient art head to the Old Getty aka The Getty Villa. Built by J. Paul Getty in 1954, this was the original Getty before the new location was built in 1997. You’ll feel like you’re in Italy without the airfare. Get some culture and head down Sunset to the PCH and it’ll be waiting for you.
Standouts (of the 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities):
- Victorious Youth
- The Lansdowne Heracles
- The wonderful main courtyard of the villa
The new Getty (located off the 405 north of Sunset) is just as impressive. Visible from many parts of the city, this modern icon designed by Richard Meier and opened in 1997. Sitting high up in the Hills, this museum has a commanding presence over the Westside.
- Multiple works by Titian
- Multiple works by Rembrandt
- La Promenade by Renoir
- Portrait of Madame Brunet by Manet
- Irises by van Gogh
- Sunrise (Marine) by Monet
Stahl House - 1635 Woods Drive LA, CA 90069. (323) 744-1635
LA has some of the most incredible modern houses in the entire country. Many are private homes today so to be able to visit one is quite special. The Stahl House, or Case Study house # 22, sits high in the hills above West Hollywood providing views from DTLA to the ocean and everything in between.
Designed by architect Peter Koenig, tours of the property take place daily (check for specifics) both during the day, sunset, and night. It’s a bit expensive (and there are heavy parking restrictions – one car per group) but it’s worth the curated and special experience.
The time slots around sunset are the best as they allow you to see the house and its surroundings in three distinct (and GORGEOUS) times: day, sunset, and night.
Virginia Robinson Gardens - 1008 Elden Way Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 276-5367
Few people seem to know about this place. Hidden in Beverly Hills (north of Sunset), this classic estate that will leave you breathless. Few houses and gardens like this exist in Los Angeles – a hidden relic of a time when Beverly Hills was just being built and Los Angeles was experiencing its Golden Age.
The earliest estate in Beverly Hills (built in 1911 when there wasn’t anything but farms – not even the Beverly Hills Hotel!), both the house and grounds are simply divine. Tours are hosted and have to be reserved in advance so plan accordingly.
There are five distinct areas to explore in the gardens:
- The Italian Renaissance Terrace Garden
- The Formal Mall Garden
- The Rose Garden
- The Kitchen Garden
- The Tropical Palm Garden
Huntington Library and Gardens - 1151 Oxford Road San Marino, CA 91108. (626) 405-2100
Pasadena (actually San Marino) may seem far away but it’s actually surprisingly close. Whatever the distance, you won’t care after visiting the Huntington Library and Gardens. This stunning property is gigantic (120 acres) and exploding with flora unrivalled in the LA area. Some of the standouts:
- The Japanese Garden: this was completed in 1912 and opened to the public in 1928. You can tell that this is a mature Japanese garden that has gotten to truly blossom.
- The Desert Garden: massive and contains some very important species.
- The Conservatory: also massive. Tropical plant extravaganza!
Also on the property is a world-class art collection featuring works by masters including: Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, and Rogier van der Weyden. You thought that was it? There’s also a library that holds some of the most amazing editions of literature and history (like a Gutenberg Bible; letters and papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln; the first seven drafts of Thoreau’s Walden, and the Ellesemere manuscript of Chaucer.)
Melrose Trading Post (Fairfax Flea Market) - 7850 Melrose Avenue LA, CA 90046. (323) 655-7679
Although there are bigger (and some would say better) flea markets in the LA area, this one has cool factor. Only in Los Angeles would people dress up to go to the flea market – and that’s why we love this place.
Held every Sunday in the parking lot of Fairfax High School – the best time to go is as early as you can. Not only is the morning temperature perfect for doing some shopping but it also isn’t totally overrun with everyone who partied too hard the night before.
For $3 you can peruse anything from clothes, antiques, furniture, art, knickknacks, and everything in between. Just make sure you look the coolest you’ve ever looked.
AL FRESCO DINING
And finally – how could we leave out FOOD in this article? One of the best ways to enjoy the lovely LA summer is to dine outside. Many places throughout the country deal with it wither being too cold to sit outside, or conversely it is too hot and humid for it to be enjoyable. Here are some of the best places in LaLaLand to eat outside:
Cecconi’s - 8764 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069. (310) 432-2000
This patio area is what al fresco is supposed to be. Cecconi’s (like former tenant Morton’s) is an industry hangout where the whispers and murmurs of any number of execs, celebs, and celebutantes create a hum throughout.
If you want to be privy to any number of personal conversations – make a reservation on the patio. You can’t miss it (BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL) – it’s the first thing you see upon entering. Comfortable seating, shaded, elegant, classy, and the food – the food.
The Garden at Chateau Marmont - 8221 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90046. (323) 656-1010
The pool isn’t the only reason to make a visit to the Chateau Marmont this summer. Though there is no guarantee that you will be able to visit this oasis perched atop Sunset Boulevard (as stated in the pool section – Chateau doesn’t need you. You need it), it’s worth a shot.
If you’re lucky (and you will feel that way), you’ll get to sit in The Garden. Wherever celebrities are hanging out in the great beyond – it probably looks very much like this holiest of meeting places. You’ll certainly think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
Stone arches, glorious colored tiles, wicker, lanterns, birds chirping, the distant noise of the city, attentive staff, and a celebrity (or two, or three.)
The Polo Lounge - 9641 Sunset Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 887-2777
Much like The Garden at the Chateau, The Polo Lounge is a place that has been around for a very, very, long time. Not in the bad way. Quite the contrary. In a city where new is best and old means passé – few places grow old gracefully. This is one of those special places. Luscious gardens, seasoned waiters, great people-watching.
Anywhere on the patio has a great vantage point to look at your surroundings. Get a salad. Have a drink. Or two. Or three.
The Ivy - 113 N. Robertson Boulevard LA, CA 90048. (310) 274-8303
OK, before you say anything – The Ivy is great. This place opened in 1983 AND IT’S STILL HERE. Providing celebrities and people alike with the opportunity to see and be seen; people think very often that that’s all it is.
Thank God that isn’t true. The food may not be experimental but they know what they’re doing. Plus – it’s one of the few places in LA that you can order stone crab. If you haven’t had a stone crab – you haven’t lived.
The red brick patio sits off Robertson, separated by – of course – a white picket fence. There’s lots of florals, lots of pale pink. It’s a very preppy look. Unless you really want to be on show, ask for a table on the patio but further back off the street.
Villa Blanca - 9601 Brighton Way Beverly Hills CA 90210. (310) 859-7600
In Beverly Hills there are many places that have outdoor seating. But few of them carry the weight that Villa Blanca does. Owned by reality star (and wonderful lady) Lisa Vanderpump – this bright, white, eatery caters to just about every kind of person who passes through Beverly Hills.
There are the tourists (either looking for Lisa, or for any number of regular celebrity patrons), the aforesaid celebrity patrons, Beverly Hills business types, and housewives (those on TV, and actual housewives.) The patio wraps the corner of Camden and Brighton with a shady awning that provides respite (and a Bloody Mary or two will certainly help!)
The food Villa Blanca serves goes perfectly with al fresco dining. It’s the kind of food that is augmented by eating it outside. Big salads. Seafood. Lobster Crisps.
Il Pastaio - 400 N. Canon Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 205-5444
Il Pastaio, like Villa Blanca, is a great place to people-watch in Beverly Hills. Many times, locals are more entertaining than any celebrity.
Busy just about every time of day – Il Pastaio is a scene. And its patio is certainly a scene in and of itself. If you want a quitter patio experience – ask for a table as far down the back of the patio section on the Brighton side. The area that faces Canon is much smaller, louder, and is for those who want more walkers-by.
Get a martini, have some pasta, pig out on bread. Sounds like a great summer evening.
Any Malibu Restaurant
Well – any restaurant in Malibu that is on the ocean side of the PCH. They vary in price, cuisine, patrons: but they’re all good.
- Malibu Pier
- Paradise Cove
- The Sunset (Point Dume)
High at The Erwin - 1697 Pacific Avenue Venice, CA 90291. (424) 214-1062
From the tallest point in Venice – High at The Erwin serves drinks and small plates to its tanned customers on one of the best rooftops in all LA. Do one 360 and you can see the entire LA coastline, Catalina, Malibu, the Getty, the Hollywood Sign, DTLA, and the planes coming and going from LAX.
This place is so relaxing and has such wonderful views that you can actually stay up there all day – even though the beach is right next door. That should tell you something.
Gjelina - 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard Venice CA 90291. (310) 450-1429
You can’t go wrong with a glass of wine and a pizza from Gjelina in their back patio area. Cool even by Abbot Kinney standards, this restaurant has been packed since it opened in 2008. If DTLA and the beach had a baby it would be this restaurant. A perfect blend of building materials and interior design makes the restaurant feel very industrial yet somehow also beachy.
Areal - 2820 Main Street Santa Monica CA 90405. (310) 392- 1661
The Third Street Promenade can be a rather daunting place – particularly to an LA local who just wants to do some shopping and maybe get something to eat. Main Street offers a much calmer and more small-town-feeling vibe.
On a corner shaded by trees is Areal. The al fresco dining area is huge! Birds are chirping, it’s relaxing, the food’s great, the drinks are great. All just a few blocks from the ocean (to walk off the calories / drinks.)
The Abbey - 692 N. Robertson Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90069. (310) 289-8410
Think this is a strange addition to the list? No way!!!
Yes, you’re thinking about the right Abbey – the one on Robertson in Boys Town that has been providing good times since 1991.
Yes it is the scene of much debauchery in the evening, but this gay establishment actually has good food, great drinks, and a great patio. During the week the patio is quiet around lunchtime and perfect to meet up to enjoy a naughty drink during the afternoon. The food isn’t artistic let’s say – but it’s simple. And it’s good.
Salads, burgers, nachos. Cakes upon cakes upon cakes. There’s certainly alcohol. And the people watching – to die for. You never know who you’ll see…
The Eveleigh - 8752 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90069. (424) 239-1630
If you want to be transported this summer far out of the city without ever leaving West Hollywood – head to The Eveleigh. Out the back is a covered yet outdoors dining area that is equally wonderful for either brunch or an intimate dinner. Picture a lot of wood, a lot of ‘country’ elements. Not in the kitschy way. It’s like if Elle Décor did ‘country,’
Very hand-crafted, the food and drink at this restaurant are no joke.
ICE CREAM AND OTHER FROZEN GOODS
Sweet Rose Creamery - newest location at 7565 Beverly Boulevard LA, CA 90036. (310) 260-2663
With three locations (Brentwood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Blvd. near The Grove) – this artisanal creamery is delicious. Expect long lines, particularly towards closing time. It’s just that good.
Flavors to try: SALTED CARAMEL!!!! Rose and geranium, coffee, earl grey.
Mateo’s - 4222 W. Pico Boulevard LA, CA 90019. (323) 931-5500
There are three locations of this amazingness. Arguably the most popular location is in a pretty nondescript strip mall near the intersection of Pico and Crenshaw. Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars is a visual delight - rows upon rows of different paletas (fruit bars) and ice cream that taste just as good as they look.
Flavors to try: SMOKED MILK – you’re welcome. Really any flavor – but be adventurous. You can’t go wrong.
Neveux - 7407 Melrose Avenue LA, CA 90046. (323) 951-1002
It’s about time there was a delicious boutique ice cream store on Melrose. With an owner who came back to Southern California wanting to, “save Los Angeles from frozen yogurt” – you know it’s got to be good.
Flavors to try: HONEY LAVENDER!!!!!! Roasted banana, strawberry balsamic.
Mikawaya - 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall LA, CA 90012. (213) 624-1681
You might not think you know this name – but you do. Luckily Mikawaya mochi is available in many supermarkets these days. What’s mochi ice cream? It’s ice cream of any flavor wrapped in a type of rice paste and it’s delicious.
Flavors to try: RED BEAN! Plum wine, coconut, and green tea. Also: get some green tea Kit Kats.
Ghirardelli - 6834 Hollywood Boulevard LA, CA 90028. (323) 466-0399
The San Francisco classic opened up a store (within the Disney space next to the El Capitan Theatre) on Hollywood Boulevard last year and if you want a sundae. A real sundae. You really can’t beat this place.
Try: THE SALTED CARAMEL SUNDAE! Or any kind…
Mashti Malone’s - 1525 N. La Brea Avenue LA, CA 90046. (323) 874-6168
Considering this place has been around since 1980: if you don’t know it - you’ve been missing out. The flavors are decidedly exotic (the owners are from Iran) and really can’t be found anywhere else in the city.
Flavors to try: ALL OF THEM! Rosewater anything!
Sprinkles Ice Cream - 9631 S. Santa Monica Boulevard Beverly Hills CA 90210. (310) 274-7890
It was only a matter of time until Sprinkles opened an ice cream store next to its cupcake destination in Beverly Hills. Just like its cupcakes, the ice cream is something to wait in line for. It’s like a Cold Stone blended with a Sprinkles and had an even better outcome.
Flavors to try: RED VELVET (because this is Sprinkles.) Banana, salty caramel, and any of their crazy sandwiches, sundaes, and shakes!