Heart and Soul: Hidden Gems of Los Angeles

Travel advisor Jane Henzerling with long blonde hair wearing a blue denim button-up
Curated By

Jane Henzerling

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  • Los Angeles

  • California

  • Arts & Culture

  • Beaches

  • Outdoors

  • Nightlife

  • Entertainment

cityscape at sunset
Curator’s statement

Visiting Los Angeles can feel as trite as watching a B-movie: like you've seen it all before and know exactly what's going to happen. Peeling back the veneer and seeking out the city's array of hidden gems can be very rewarding - and heartening. There's a soul in LA, and here are some places you can find it and feel it.

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Where to stay in Los Angeles

The Hollywood Roosevelt

Old Hollywood-style hotel with lavish rooms and an Italian restaurant helmed by a Michelin star chef.

Fora Perks
  • $100 resort / hotel credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Welcome amenity.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel Per La

Indulge in the comfort of beautifully appointed rooms, savor delicious cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients and unwind in the tranquil surroundings.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Freehand Los Angeles

A hip urban enclave housed in L.A.'s old Commercial Exchange building, complete with stylish rooms, a neighborhood restaurant and café plus a rooftop pool and bar.

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Things to do in Los Angeles

wide California beach

Going to the beach is a staple of any LA itinerary. For a relaxing and elegant experience complete with creature comforts (clean changing rooms, showers, lockers, a cafe) head to the Annenberg Community Beach House just north of Santa Monica. On the oceanfront site of the mansion William Randolph Hearst built for his long-time companion Marion Davies sits a historic, picture-perfect pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas. You can hop back and forth from pool to ocean, enjoy a tasty lunch, and pretend you're an A-list celeb. A pool day pass is only $10.

Step back in time to the glitz of old Hollywood by visiting the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room at the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown LA. Sip a perfectly shaken martini, crane your neck to gaze at the stunning ceilings, and soak in the history of this birthplace of the Oscars and iconic hangout of the city's original movie stars.

While not nearly as iconic, the lounge at Noe Restaurant in the Omni Hotel is home to downtown's only live piano player. On Friday and Saturday nights, Rick will take you back in time with beautiful renditions of the standards and a vibe that makes you remember how cool this storied city can be.

Another unexpected LA standard is the Angel's Flight funicular railway from Grand Central Market to California Plaza. For $1 you can climb aboard and go up (or down) the hill just as people have been doing since 1901.

Zoom ahead to the modern era by strolling through the Broad Museum and MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). Both are free - just reserve timed tickets online - and are right across the street from one another. You'll be delighted with works you recognize and surprised by the unfamiliar, boundary-pushing creations throughout the galleries.

Spend the night in the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt, a cocktail lounge with a speakeasy style and two classic bowling lanes. A spirit of high-class playfulness reigns.

Places to eat & drink in Los Angeles

Heart and Soul: Hidden Gems of Los Angeles - Places to eat & drink

Rosy's Cafe: The tucked-away poolside restaurant at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel serves up tasty California cuisine in a lush setting.

Otium: Next to the Broad Museum in downtown, open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Simple and modern setting with inventive dishes and a carefully curated wine list.

Panini Kabob Grill: On an unpretentious corner downtown, this place prepares huge portions of flavorful Mediterranean specialties.

Langer's Deli: A local favorite in Westlake. Classic deli sandwiches too tall to fit in your mouth. It's all about the pastrami. Order the #19.

Travel advisor Jane Henzerling with long blonde hair wearing a blue denim button-up

Travel Advisor

Jane Henzerling

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Los Angeles.