(1) Eat lunch with the celebrities at Nobu Malibu
If you're looking for that quintessential L.A. celebrity meal... look no further than Nobu Malibu. Look... even if you're NOT into sharing a meal with a celebrity (or at least sitting in semi-close proximity to one)... you should have a meal at this place, because it is mind-blowingly beautiful and the sushi / sashimi is ridiculously fresh and delicious.
Located right along the Malibu coastline, Nobu is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world. The restaurant is big and spacious. The inside doors are normally open, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from the dining room. It is minimalistic and modern.
Yes, the prices are ridiculously high (even for LA standards)... but you gotta treat yourself right? Here are some things you must get:
Sashimi Tacos are Nobu’s most famous dishes. They're small and there's a variety of them for you to try. Great thing for your taste-buds, horrible for your wallet!
Yellowtail Sashimi With Jalapeño is another signature appetizer dish
Black Cod Miso is a must-have entrée dish. Super buttery... melt in your mouth deliciousness
Rock shrimp tempura - tiny pieces of sweet, juicy shrimp deep fried to perfection!
All the sushi and sashimi. Just ask for recommendations... you can't go wrong!
[credit: Nobu Malibu]
(2) Check out the architecture (or dollar cookies) UCLA
Normally I'd never recommend you visit a college campus during your vacation. But UCLA is no ordinary campus. The architecture on campus is beautiful... there are some outdoor space you must check out! One of the most lauded outdoor sculpture collections in the country, the tranquil Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA features 70 sculptures and spans more than five acres on the northeast corner of campus. Otherwise, go find your favorite flower on the rolling hills of UCLA's Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens, a beautiful collection of gardens on the southeast corner of campus. There's a self-guided tour, including a dragon tree from the Canary Islands in the desert section and weeping myrtles from Western Australia. Also, if you visit the UCLA Planetarium on Wednesday night, there are free planetarium shows hosted by current astronomy graduate students. Shows last between 45-60 minutes, with optional telescope viewing after the show (weather permitting).
A short walk from campus, the Geffen Playhouse is a Los Angeles treasure and presents a body of work that garners national recognition each year. The popular Hammer Museum is a unique, cutting-edge arts institution that connects the classics and the contemporary through its varied collections, wide-ranging exhibitions and thought-provoking programs. Admission to all exhibitions and public programs is free and open to the public.
Aside from the campus itself, there are plenty of shops right around campus in Westwood. The Fox Village Theater opened in 1931 and host plenty premieres. This single-screen movie theater is easily Westwood Village's most iconic structure thanks to its 170-foot-tall Spanish Mission-style tower and its neon Art Deco "Fox" sign. Another institution is Diddy Riese. This decades-old scoop shop is an L.A. rite of passage. Its famous massive ice cream sandwiches are just $2 each. Choose any two freshly baked cookies then add a scoop of ice cream - the combinations are endless and all delicious!
(3) Escape to Italy for a cappuccino at Eataly
Located inside the Westfield Century City shopping complex, Eataly L.A. offers two floors to eat, shop, and learn all about the best food and drink from Italy and California. There are three restaurants, nine take-away counters, and two cafès. Eataly L.A. offers both local and Italian products. There's plenty of artisanal products and wines (their Italian wine selection is huge and reasonably priced!).
Eataly also offers complimentary tastings in the market and cooking classes at La Scuola di Eataly by Valcucine. Almost every day, producers will offer tastes of their products across the market, so you can learn the story of your product, try before you buy, and get recipe suggestions from the source. There are also classes led by the experts at the cooking school.
(4) Shop at The Grove
The Grove is your one-stop outdoor shopping destination. The Grove features a large central park with an animated fountain. The iconic fountain is located in front of the theater, at the heart of The Grove. Its music-fountain show plays every hour, and is reminiscent of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas but on a much smaller scale. There's also a double-decker trolley! The Grove trolley travels along First Street between The Grove and The Original Farmers Market.
Aside from shopping - there's also plenty to eat at The Grove (not that you should spoil your dinner... we've got something special planned for you). But just in case, here are a few key stops to make at The Grove:
At The Original Farmer’s Market is Bob’s Coffee and Donuts. This LA institution has been around since the 1940s and has fantastic house-brewed coffee and a legendary apple fritter
Dominique Ansel’s pastries are worth the wait. Whether it’s the famous cronut or a cookie shot or the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann), these baked goods are absolutely fantastic
Mixology 101 literally puts you above all the chaos at The Grove. Head up the staircase in the middle of The Grove for some well-made cocktails.
Monsieur Marcel Seafood Market offers a rich selection of daily catches... lobster, shrimp, crab... you name it! Relatedly - they just opened up Roxy & Jo's Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar. Come here for chowders, seafood platters, lobster rolls, fish & chips...and, of course, oysters. Pick your fish and watch chefs prepare it as you wish!
Bryan's Pit Barbeque offers excellent Texas-style beef, pork and chicken dishes
Du-par’s has been around for nearly 80 years and is an LA diner classic. This is open 24 hours!
(5) Enjoy Korean BBQ in K-Town at Eight
When you think about Korean BBQ... you're probably thinking galbi or bulgogi. What about pork belly? More specifically, 8 different flavors of pork belly? That's what Eight is famous for.
Eight first became popular when Chef Anne Burrell talked about how this was the best bbq she ever had on the TV series "Best. Ever." The dish “8 Flavors of Pork Belly” is the thing to order here, which (shockingly) features eight variations including black sesame, curry, garlic, and miso. If that's not enough, you can also get pork flowers — made from checkered pork belly. The slices of pork are so juicy and thick that once you've grilled them to perfection atop your table, a friendly and attentive server will appear with scissors to snip them into easily chewable nuggets. The best part? At the end of your meal, the server will use the leftover broth and kimchi to create a heavenly kimchi fried rice topped with mozzarella.
[credit: Eight Korean BBQ]
(6) Take in the LA night air from the rooftop bar Spire 73
Spire 73, located atop the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown’s 73rd floor, lets you look out over the L.A. skyline from the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. Like most LA hotspots, seating is limited and there's a strict dress-code (dress in business casual and summer attire). The crowd can be a bit... shall we say... expensively demanding? But hey, if you can find a nice seat next to a firepit... none of that will matter. Long story short... stunning views of the entire city, chic fire pits, hand-crafted signature cocktails, surrounded by lots of beautiful rich LA people... what more can you ask for as you wind down from another beautiful day in LA?!