The first thing I noticed when my plane touched down in Los Angeles was, predictably, the weather. Flip-flops everywhere, guys in tanks. It was only April but I felt like I landed in summer. And within an hour of arriving, I was already clued into that LA lifestyle. My shirt was off and I was by the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, drinking Micheladas (a Mexican tomato beer cocktail) with local LA blogger, Arnette. As I sat there, watching people watching other people by the side of the pool, I thought to myself: I could get used to this.
Seven days later, with thousands racked up in credit card debt, a new iPhone6 and a depleted stash of condoms, I only had one thought: get me out of here!
* * *
Four of my six nights out in West Hollywood, I was on the dance floor at The Abbey. At one point, the bar was named one of the world’s best gay bars and it’s pretty easy to see why. I had more than a few good nights at The Abbey, often ogling the go-go dancers with bodies too perfect to be true while getting high on poppers and spilling drinks by the DJ. I was a total mess and I loved it.
And even when my phone was stolen right out of my pocket on the dance floor, there was something disastrously fun about the bar. I put the phone down as a loss, because in all honesty: I was just having too much fun to care.
Going out in West Hollywood was every bit as crazy as I’d imagined. My booze-fueled week of debauchery was spent almost entirely on a short stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard—the landmark street in West Hollywood.
There were drag shows and go-go boys, tequila shots and sloppy selfies, fried chicken sandwiches at 4am and Uber rides with drag queens. I never knew Los Angeles would be so much fun. I’d always imagined it as a soulless city, but as it turns out: when you let loose and embrace it, the city has a lot to offer.
There’s nowhere really like LA. I can’t remember a holiday that was ever so reckless, so fun, so expensive. And even with all of that—it was so fantastic! My week in LA reminded me of the value of spoiling yourself. It’s fucking fantastic to throw some money down at the bar, buying drinks for you and your friends, charging the Uber to your own account, and late-night mini-bar purchases. I know it all sounds wasteful, and there’s always a way to do it cheaper. But sometimes you just need to spend the cash.
Of course, too much of a good thing can probably be dangerous. A week in Los Angeles was just enough for me. Just the right amount of time to see the sights, enjoy the city, have A LOT of fun, and still come away alive.
How To Spoil Yourself in Los Angeles
Sightseeing & Things To Do
I’m a firm believer in the work hard, play hard mode of travel. Spend your afternoons sightseeing so that you can party hard each night.
- Santa Monica Pier — The iconic LA pier, with carnival rides, restaurants (including the new, trendy Japadog—Japanese style hot dogs) and lots of crowds. It’s great for an afternoon break by the beach. Plus the Santa Monica beach is easy to reach and the sand is beautiful. It’s a total escape from the rest of the Los Angeles experience.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art — One of the most impressive Los Angeles museums, the LACMA is home to collections on everything from contemporary art to Greek & Roman classics. Spend a few hours there, and then make sure to spoil yourself with some drinks at their outdoor cocktail bar & restaurant, which includes an entire menu of 20 different premium waters.
- Original Farmers Market & Shopping at The Grove — With gourmet food shops in the Original Farmers Market and luxury clothing brands throughout the Grove shopping complex, you could easily spend a fortune (and an entire day) shopping, eating and enjoying the attractions. If you’re pressed for time, try the Melting Pot Food Tour for a quick intro to LA’s food market scene.
- Paramount Studios — Ever wanted to see what it was like to be a celebrity? Paramount Studios offers a pretty cool tour through their live studios. You might just run into a celebrity while on tour because the premises are used every day (and night) still for filming!
Where to Go Out in West Hollywood
- The Abbey — The world-famous gay bar & restaurant, food is served during the day in a large outdoor space, but the real action is in the bar each night with plenty of go-go dancers and parties. Watch your pockets as it’s a popular place for pick-pocketing. Also: nightlife in LA shuts down early so don’t expect to be out too late.
- PUMP — A corner restaurant, started by the one and only Lisa Vanderpump, with a beautiful garden terrace and a delicious bar menu perfect for the summer.
- Kitchen24 — This 24-hour diner is one of the few places open late on Santa Monica Boulevard. Food is good and it’s a decent hangout after clubbing.
- Micky’s — Every Monday night is “Showgirls” with drag shows and RuPaul’s Drag Race screenings. Otherwise, it’s a popular bar with younger crowds.
Where to Stay
Sure, Los Angeles has some decent budget accommodation, but for a week in LA, your credit’s going to be ruined regardless. Might as well treat yourself to one of these fantastic properties. Bonus: the swimming pools serve as a great way to chill down after long nights partying.
- Hollywood Roosevelt — It’s a classic Los Angeles hotel with one of the city’s best swimming pools. The pool is popular on Sunday afternoons with good music and fun crowds. Plus: the property is located right on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, so you can cover some of the LA sightseeing right out of your doorstep.
- W Hotel Westwood — Recently renovated, the W Westwood has a nice style—sleek and modern but not overstated. There’s a great swimming pool and bar on the ground floor.
- Ace Hotel — Part of the iconic hipster Ace hotel brand, the downtown Los Angeles property is as nice & stylish as you can get. Plus, the rooftop bar is one of the coolest nightlife destinations in town.
I feel ya… sometimes there is NOTHING better after a lot of hard work to throw caution to the wind and go hard! But hopefully the cautious part of me sets $$ aside for this purpose ;) Would love to go out in LA… someday!
Yeah, nothing better than saving up a chunk of $$$ and then just letting it all go — whether it takes a day, a week or three months to blow through it!
Interesting that you didn’t actually write about the IGLTA Convention. Or is that story yet to come?
Thanks Rick :) I don’t really talk about business on this blog, which is kept strictly for my travel stories. I was at the convention to speak on a panel about social media & blogging – you can check my professional site for more info (possibly in the future) about the IGLTA and blogging/writing/marketing as a business.
I’m from LA but now live in Amsterdam. Being away makes me appreciate LA so much more and it’s nice to hear that you had a great time. Living in Weho for so long, all of what you mentioned was routine and tedious, but I’m glad to hear that it still can be exciting to newcomers. LA is such a unique and diverse city and can only be appreciated in long stays. I often wonder what LA offers tourists?
Most tourist attractions like Universal Studios and Disneyland are all over the world; the water at Santa Monica Beach is filthy; Venice Beach is riddled with gangs; and celebrities are hidden behind their tinted glass windows. That being said, the greatness comes in it’s diversity and the amount of smaller/midsized places that are innumerable to see in a short stay.. But maybe LA is a lifestyle or a state of mind that others want to experience. BTW… Mickey’s used to have a great stripper night on Wednesdays called Hot Rods.. talk about depletion of cash!
Hey Jerry – thanks for that great feedback. The Mickey’s Wednesday stripper event sounds pretty awesome ;-)
I love how you describe LA as a “lifestyle or a state of mind.” That was my feeling while I was there! I definitely could see myself tiring of the city as a tourist, but I imagine living there, you can experience an entirely different type of city. Hope to spend a longer period of time there in the future. There were entire areas of the city I’d love to explore deeper: more along the coast and Silverlake for example.
I really was wondering if that was you in the picture so thanks for clarifying! :-)
Hahaha happy to oblige Caitlin :)
[…] it’s in full blown luxury. With the wealth of knowledge and honest opinions from Travels of Adam, I’m sure I’ll have no problems finding ways to spoil myself in LA, because I deserve […]
I love LA and Ace Hotel is the best! I had a great time with their 24 hours hot bod time machine which is the coolest thing ever. :D I would love to go out in LA again someday.