In a city obsessed with fame and glamour, it makes sense that some of the best spots are more off-the-grid. Whether you’re looking for a boutique hotel, a quirky museum, or a creepy hiking spot, dig deeper than the tour book tells you to, and you’ll be sure to find what you’re seeking.
The Petit Ermitage is a boutique hotel in West Hollywood known for an outrageous jet-setting crowd who like to get rowdy with discretion — no one boring stays here. The rooftop bar/restaurant/pool area is a haven. Their garden is even a registered butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary, and the hotel halls are lined with a museum-worthy art collection, including works by Erté and Dali. Meals at the Petit are incredible, full of local produce and organic offerings.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City is unlike any museum you’ve been to before. While the museum calls itself “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic,” it’s really an extremely peculiar personal collection of miscellany and peculiarities, displayed in a meta-examination of what it means to be a museum. Be befuddled by the artifacts, then visit upstairs and have tea and cookies while surrounded by doves in the Tula Tea Room.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is another boutique museum, focusing on — you guessed it — failed love. Its exhibits include personal objects left over from former lovers, and started as a traveling collection of donated items. It was originally founded by a couple who joked about getting a museum to house all the items associated with their breakup.
Murphy Ranch in the Palisades is an alleged former Nazi commune, and is wrapped in lore around LA — most of its history is not well-documented, and is passed on through storytelling. Ghost hunters, graffiti artists, and hikers love the spot, and it’s very clear that whatever happened there was quite strange: the commune that existed there had its own livestock and water supply from springs, and many of the structures and food lockers remain to this day.
Shareen Vintage’s Shareen Mitchell can help you find anything in her downtown vintage warehouse — many of the pieces I wear constantly, I found at Shareen. Try calling ahead to see when she will be in the store, because shopping with her is an incredible experience. She knows vintage clothes better than anyone and doles out life advice as she belts your dress. The shop is impeccably organized, and because all the items are hand-picked by Shareen, the vibe is decidedly unlike the average thrift shop. The past feels truly alive here.
Skeletons in the Closet, the LA Coronor’s office gift shop, is a hokey and hilarious spot to visit for anyone into dark tourism or the generally morbid. The shop sells body bags, beach towels with body outlines, and souvenir mugs out of a creepy building in Boyle Heights.
The Detox Market is a chicer option than Whole Foods for natural and nontoxic beauty products. After the owner, Valerie, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she set out to educate other women on the toxic ingredients in conventional beauty products and point them toward more wholesome alternatives.
Wild Vase is the opposite of mass-market flower delivery sites that seem to offer the same bland arrangements through all seasons. Specializing in seasonal, local, organic blooms, Atwater Village’s Wild Vase offers some of the most gorgeous all-occasion bouquets I have ever seen at remarkably affordable prices. The flowers are hand-selected daily, so you know yours will be the best offerings that day. If you have something specific in mind, be sure to ask. The owner was raised in Malibu but spent summers in Britain, so you can expect your order to combine laid-back California style with the lushness of English gardens.
Shojin might be the best vegan ramen and Japanese food on the west coast, but without seeking it out, you might never find it — it’s hidden on the second floor of the Little Tokyo mall. Their organic ramens feature many gluten free and macrobiotic options, and the servers always have great sake pairing recommendations. The apricot kale salad is a particularly divine starter, and if you love garlic and some spice, the Ramen Revolution is my personal favorite entrée.
There are many Urth Caffe locations in Los Angeles (Melrose, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Downtown, Pasadena), so you’re likely to have one near whatever part of the city you’re in — and it’s a great alternative to Starbucks. If you’re looking for a quick-but-healthy bite to eat between activities, Urth is a quality choice, offering sandwiches, pastries, and amazing organic coffee drinks.
The Alcove has one of the best happy hours on the east side, and plenty of health-conscious sandwich and soup options. It’s a great casual spot when you would like to sit and spend some time chatting with friends. The café and the bar are housed in neighboring historic bungalows, and the best place to eat is on their lovely patio. Be sure to try their very own Alcove chocolate!
Plant Food and Wine offers incredible locally-sourced vegetarian and vegan fare, plus natural wines. The Abbot Kinney hot-spot was opened by leading plant-based chef Matthew Kenney a couple years ago, and has been a choice location for a nicer meal —the zucchini lasagna and avocado and radish toast are life-changing. I highly recommend sitting outside under the fig trees.
Mignon is a French bistro with the coziest and most charming interior in all of Los Angeles. They are always serving interesting French wines. Plan for a wine flight and small plates to share — the baked eggs with leeks and cream are absolutely heavenly.