I always get messages from you guys about what to do in LA when you’re here so I thought it would be great to pile it all up for you in one post. And contrary to other beliefs, I consider Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu “LA” because, well, it’s all the same. For this post’s purpose, I’m grouping them into a “West Los Angeles” group.
So get your planner out, you’re gonna want to spend a week in West LA with all this good stuff. And remember, YES the traffic is horrendous (give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to get to a different neighborhood) and the food is amazing so ditch that diet you’ve been working on.
1st Stop: Malibu
If you think you’ve seen the prettiest sunset in the world, stop right there. A Malibu Pier sunset is at the top of the list. The vibrant colors, the calming ocean, and the surfers out at sea make it one of the most beautiful moments. The best time to check out this sunset is during the fall and winter, the colors are incredible.
And I’m not even done talking about the pier yet! Hello, Malibu Farm! Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch or Dinner, I always want to stop by when I’m thinking of the pier. If you step onto the pier and you’re overwhelmed by the amount of people outside, don’t be scared. Malibu farm stretches from the beginning of the pier until the end. And each building seems to have different menus, rules and decor.
Like the outside patio of Malibu Farm (to the left when you’re walking onto the pier) is definitely where you want to get drinks, juices and the nachos and stare at the ocean with your family or friends. I came here for Mother’s Day one year and it was super fun, such a hit!
The end of the Pier is perfect for crowded Sunday mornings when you want a yummy latte and your brunch. You get away from the crowd and the interior has a super cozy vibe. I also loved the Burger for lunch! And every time I come here I get the cutest latte art! I’m talking bears, whales and hearts. Yes please!
When you’re done at the Pier don’t forget to stop by this cute pink bench and umbrellas. They just added this cute little photo spot this year and I’m loving it! This gives me all the vibes. It’s going to be right by the parking lot next to the pier (which I highly suggest! It’s usually around $10-$15 depending on the day of the week but finding street parking in Malibu is next to impossible).
There’s so many pitstops along PCH with coastal access that it’s hard to suggest any in particular but if you’re making a day of it, you’ll be sure to find amazing stops along the way. On the way from Malibu Farm and back into Santa Monica, keep your eyes peeled on the right for Coastal Access signs or parking areas where you can pull your car over and walk down. Pack light!
2nd Stop: Santa Monica
Brace yourself, this is gonna be a long one! But you’ll be thrilled to know I’m spilling the deets on all of my favorite photo spots and places to eat. I’d say I spend the most time in Santa Monica because the food is great, the views are amazing and being near the ocean just feels right to me.
I’m going to start on Montana Ave because it’s the closet to my hood. I love to stroll Montana for cute little shops and yummy little spots. One of my fave stops is Bardonna. The lattes are big, beautiful and of course delicious. Not to mention my favorite thing to order is the Avocado Toast because there are many little pieces of amazingly toasted bread with creamy avocado on top and drizzled with truffle oil. I mean, I’m craving this right now. By far one of the yummiest avocado toasts I’ve had.
Another quick and delicious breakfast spot is Sidecar Donuts. The donuts are made fresh, like in front of your eyes! Meaning, if you’re there when they’re hot, you’re in for a warm and incredible treat. Not to mention they literally have the best flavors (last summer they had a chocolate chip cookie dough flavor?!) and the coffee of course gets my seal of approval. There’s also a cute and tiny little patio in front where you can stuff your face with this goodness.
If you’re tired of seeing Avocado Toast pics I’m sorry! But I can’t help but share this one. Bondi Harvest is an Australian Cafe tucked in a tiny office park with an amazing outdoor patio! I always stop by for a latte or as I mentioned, this yummy Avocado Toast. Other things to rave about are the Açaí Bowls and Breakfast Burritos.
I mean, what’s a post about Santa Monica without chatting about the Pier? If you’ve never been, you have to go just see what it’s all about. If you’ve been before, you’ll know about the huge crowds during the summer, the overload of seagulls and a fun but also terrifying ride on the ferris wheel (if you’re scared of heights!) Another honorable mention would be the garlic fries and all the sweets on the pier, I always come looking for trouble.
I have two favorite sunset spots in Santa Monica and you better believe I’m in either place every night with either my phone or my head pointed to the sky. I’m probably also running around like a crazy person (which Oliver confirms I do look like this).
Anyways, this spot is above PCH on Ocean Ave. and I believe it’s called Palisades Park. It’s the best place to chill out but not be in the scene near the beach. Not to mention there’s a ton of dogs to pet, if you’re into that sorta thing.
My next favorite spot is near the pier. You’re going to want to park to the left of the pier in either a lot or on a meter. Here you can walk down to the ocean or chill on the boardwalk. You either also walk or bike down the trail. When the Bird scooters were around I loved to ride them down the path at sunset. I think they’re illegal now.
A new spot that just popped up is Elephante for evening drinks and yummy pizza. I came too early to see the sunset this summer, but the drinks were so good, the vibe was amazing and the pizza was on another level. The decor also made it feel like I was on vacation, maybe Tulum. Would highly suggest coming here if you’re stressed or just want to have a good time. Make sure you make a reservation.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, my favorite is the Viceroy. It’s an amazing staycation or vacation. The hotel is so cute, the pool is amazing and an all marble bathroom is something from your dreams. Feels like somewhere else!
3rd Stop: Venice
So after reviewing my Venice pictures I’m pretty sure it’s all pictures of me holding something up, and more Avocado Toast of course!
Everything you’re probably going to want to do in Venice is in 3 locations: Abbot Kinney Blvd, the Venice Boardwalk, and Rose Ave. One thing to note about Venice is that it is a little “edgier” than Santa Monica or Malibu and parking is a b*tch. So be on the lookout!
Your first stop is definitely going to want to be the Venice sign and the Boardwalk. Again, if you’ve never been, you’re going to want to say you’ve been, but unless I’m going for a photo opportunity or to brunch, I’m not trying to hang out on the boardwalk on the daily.
I remember in high school my friends and I would fantasize about having a day on the boardwalk and we would walk around like it was the coolest place on earth. Honestly, nothing has changed since then but maybe I’m just older, and so is the smell.
Tips on getting the perfect Venice sign photo: give yourself 15 minutes because there is a diagonal crosswalk and each opportunity is about 20 seconds. You’re going to want to either go from corner to corner to get the shot or you can run to the middle and run back. My favorite corner to get the shot is the Great White parking lot corner.
Which brings me to my next spot, Great White.
Great White is a cute little brunch spot with, you guessed it, Avocado Toast and delicious coffee. This toast was unlike any other though, the bread was thick and toasty and the cappuccinos were perfectly photo ready. Not to mention, the decor was out of this world. There’s little tables everywhere and even an outside area to chill. Definitely come here before or after your boardwalk visit.
Another amazing breakfast or lunch spot is Butcher’s Daughter. The decor and aesthetics here are insanely cute and it helps that everything here is yummy too. I usually will get a coffee or juice. They serve the same brand of coffee here as Great White so expect it to be good! They also have so many food options that are all plant based, they call themselves the “vegetable slaughterhouse.” Every single corner is inspo!
Another coffee spot on the end of Abbot Kinney is Blue Bottle. Stop by here for a super caffeinated recharge, as their coffee always makes me feel super energized!
If you’re feeling a sweet tooth come on, the sweet smell of Salt and Straw will have you gravitating towards it anyways. They have the most amazing tasting ice cream and the craziest flavors you’ll ever see. The line is super worth it, you’ll be craving this for the rest of your trip. Don’t worry, there are a ton of locations in LA, but this one is just super sweet.
If you’re vegan and bummed about Salt and Straw, there’s also a Van Leeuwen truck (usually in front of the IRO store) and they have amazing ice cream as well!
Next, we’re making our way to Rose Ave. There’s awesome little places to eat everywhere. Flake is a delicious little breakfast spot for to quick bites like breakfast sandwiches and such and there’s outdoor seating to soak up the sun if you’re hungover or just need to chill.
Another favorite is Rose Cafe! When you walk in there will be the restaurant to the right and the cafe and bar seating to the left. I’ve had some amazing coffee and pastries in the morning and some bomb drinks at night to the left. If you’re looking for a sit down experience, head to the restaurant seating. For brunch they don’t let you make reservations so make sure you’re there when it’s not too crowded. I either go with the french toast, which is super thick bread and tons of cream on the top, or the cacio e pepe is just insane. It’s so good!!
Another coffee spot that I love is Flowerboy Project. It’s located on Lincoln Ave so definitely park on a side street or if there’s a spot out front. I love how unique the concept is. if you come early in the morning you can get amazing flowers. The lattes are also what’s so fun. They have Lavender and Rose flavored lattes, which if you’ve ever tried a Lavender latte you would definitely be obsessed.
Let me know if you’re planning and visit and if this guide helped you!