There are so many things to do in Los Angeles for classic film fans and more. Los Angeles has great food and wonderful historic hotels. See Part 1 for sightseeing!
Los Angeles map
Grabbing a bite
Philippe the Original is the home of the French dip sandwich. I thought I just had to try this and was overwhelmed by roast beef, pork, lamb, turkey or ham! The restaurant is on the edge of Chinatown, near Union Station, and it does have parking lots. There is sawdust on the floor, you stand in line to get your order, and you might be sharing a table with other customers. If you like old-fashioned diner-type restaurants, you must try Philippe’s!
Bennett’s Ice Cream is a fun dessert stop at the Farmers Market. The ice cream is made on site and has a fantastic array of flavors. I liked the Cabernet Sauvignon! I like that they employ teachers in the summer.
We enjoyed a seafood lunch at The Lobster on the Santa Monica Pier. The décor is modern and serene and the views of the beach and ocean through the huge windows can’t be beat. Raw bar items, mussels, crab, fish, salads, and steak with lobster are all available.
We love Duke’s in Waikiki and Kaua’i, so of course we had to have a meal at Duke’s Malibu. You can get a table by the huge windows perched on the rocks above the surf. The Barefoot Bar is outside and has a grill menu. I loved it!
We had wonderful morning meals at the Sunset Tower Bar’s outdoor terrace. The views of the city are spectacular, the food and coffee are wonderful, and you never know who you might see having a meeting in the cabanas or the dark recesses of the bar. (I respected privacy by not snapping away, but now, dear readers, you don’t get to see the proof of who I saw!)
Café Med on the Sunset Strip is Italian. It has a cute outdoor patio for seating. The food is excellent, with homemade pastas and fresh sauces.
In Hollywood, you could eat every meal at Mels Drive-In. The location on North Highland is the gorgeous Max Factor building. You can get almost anything you can think of to eat: malts, milkshakes, root beer floats; cherry pie, cheesecake; pastrami with eggs and cheese; turkey and goat cheese sliders; and salads, burgers, and chicken salad.
Swingers Diner in Santa Monica is a hip diner with an old-school vibe. They have great vegetarian options along with the burgers, tuna melts, and eggs.
Where to stay
The Sunset Tower Hotel started life in 1929 as luxury apartments for the movie colony. It’s an art deco jewel. I enjoyed just wandering around and finding nooks. John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Paulette Goddard and more all lived here and left stories behind. I heard that John Wayne liked fresh milk and they let him keep a cow on the premises! Our room was luxurious and the view from the huge windows was fabulous.
The Georgian Hotel faces the beach at Santa Monica. This 1933 hotel is a blue art deco dream! It’s so nice to sit on the front veranda and watch the world go by. The hotel has easy access to the tour buses and is in easy walking distance of the Third Street Promenade.
Langham Huntington is a large resort hotel in Pasadena. Elegance everywhere! You can even sign up for a history tour of this 100-year-old hotel. We enjoyed breakfast outside at the Terrace next to the pool.
If flying to LA, be sure to check out the different available airports. You might be able to get a better fare depending where you fly. Just check if the location is good for the amount of driving you plan to do. LAX, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Long Beach, and Ontario are all in southern California.
Resource links things to do in Los Angeles
- Hollywood Heritage Museum
- The Hollywood Bowl
- TCL Chinese Theater
- Chateau Marmont
- Sunset Plaza
- Love Beverly Hills
- California Science Center
- La Brea tar pits and Page Museum
- The Original Famers Market
- Santa Monica Travel and Tourism
- The Gamble House
- The Huntington
Let’s talk story
My great grandparents lived in Los Angeles long ago. Their home was in Inglewood and was destroyed for the 110 freeway. I really wanted to find the street where they lived and that my father still remembers visiting.
I thought about movies and TV shows the whole time we were there. What came to mind: Anchors Aweigh with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Kathryn Grayson; Private Practice with Kate Walsh; The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! with Peter Sellers; Sunset Boulevard with William Holden and Gloria Swanson; and Nickelodeon with Ryan O’Neal and Burt Reynolds.
I was surprised how much I liked this part of California (see Part 1.) Being such a classic film fan, I guess I should have known. I would love to go back again!
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Great article, Lisa! Makes me want to go to LA!
Thanks, Patty. I was surprised that everything wasn’t totally new (like in Las Vegas). They keep some historic buildings running and beautiful! And of course, the food!…