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ICONIC CITY | Unique Things to Do in Los Angeles Guide

Malibu Beach House Proper

Our ICONIC INSIDER, Caitlin Sauer of Lost Luxe, shares her recommendations for where to stay, eat, explore and shop while visiting her fabulous hometown of Los Angeles.

Most everyone seems to have a decided opinion on Los Angeles. Whether you’ve been or not, it tends to evoke very strong feelings. I truly believe there is something for everyone in this nuanced, sprawling city of dreams. There are so many distinct neighborhoods, atmospheres and energies, that if you feel there isn’t a part of LA that speaks to your soul, I dare say you just haven’t found it yet.

I absolutely adore Los Angeles and am honored to get to share some of the many gems of my beloved city with you.

Santa Monica Proper

Just blocks from the Pacific Ocean the newly open, Kelly Wearstler-designed, Santa Monica Proper seamlessly blends California casual with art-house elegance. Reviving a quintessential 1920s era building expanded by contemporary, statement-making architecture, Proper ushers a new level of sophistication to the West Side. The hotel’s premiere restaurant “Onda,” a collaboration between James Beard-award-winning chefs Jessica Koslow of Sqirl and Gabriela Camara of Mexico City fixture Contramar, is set to open in the next month and already has the town buzzing. Plus, it’s Santa Monica’s only rooftop pool and enjoys direct proximity to Sidecar Donuts, read on for more.

Mailbu Beach House Proper

If the sound of Santa Monica Proper intrigues you, but you’re looking for something a bit more private, turn your eyes toward the coast and head north to Malibu’s exclusive Carbon Beach, where the Malibu Beach House Proper awaits. This beachfront abode boasts five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling glass and a private beach—but after seeing the master bathroom, you may just want to bathe all day. Housekeeping and culinary staff available as a premium service.

The Rooftop by JG

When thinking of fun things to do in Los Angeles, we all know food comes to mind. It may not be easy to pin down a cuisine specialty in a city as diverse as Los Angeles, but it certainly excels in dining experiences accompanied by a view. Featuring panoramic vistas of Beverly Hills, Century City and Hollywood, The Rooftop by JG at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills has an unmissable perspective of the city that wows right from the entrance. It’s a must see view, in line with ICONIC LIFE’s list of 10 best restaurants with a view.

For seaside versus city views, natural wood finishes and Italian-inspired bites that make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Mediterranean, head to Élephante in Santa Monica. The perfect sunset viewing locale, grab a coastal cocktail or a glass from their extensive wine-list while watching the sun meet the ocean beyond the quintessential palm trees. Don’t miss the whipped eggplant appetizer which should really be called, “The freshly baked bread of your dreams that you may choose to dip in the whipped eggplant provided.” Be sure to reserve your spot as the oceanfront tables are highly sought after.

Looking for a sweet treat? Sidecar Donuts has melt-in-your-mouth stunners that will make you forget any notions about donuts being passé or childish. These are not the donuts of yesteryear; my friend, they are a culinary experience. Made from fresh, seasonal ingredients and fried every hour throughout the day, Sidecar has the art of donuts down, and they serve them from a marble slab, no less. Their menu changes seasonally but a mainstay that absolutely cannot be missed: the Butter and Salt. Thank me later.

Any LA local will tell you the best sushi is in The Valley. It’s basically the only reason we would ever go there! Nestled in an inconspicuous strip of historic Toluca Lake, you’ll find Sushi Yuzu, a true star of the sushi scene with uniquely modern options like rolls topped with lemon sliced so thin it’s translucent and eggplant that tastes like the most exquisite french toast you’ve ever had. Reservations required as tables are limited. Must orders: Lemon Roll, Yuzu Roll, Miso Eggplant and anything truffle. (Our publisher just booked a table two seconds after reading this.)

One of my all-time favorite hidden gems of Los Angeles, the Greystone grounds are like something out of European fairytale.

If you’re in search of some peace and quiet but are still craving those breathtaking LA panoramas, take a stroll along the grounds of Greystone Mansion, the historic Doheny estate owned by the City of Beverly Hills. One of my all-time favorite hidden gems of Los Angeles, the Greystone grounds are like something out of European fairytale, with views from Hollywood to the Pacific Ocean. A great place to take a brief respite and a deep breath of fresh air in the heart of the city.

For similarly manicured grounds steeped in the histories of ancient Rome and Greece, spend an afternoon exploring the Getty Villa. A museum housing extensive collections of art from the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece, its gardens and architecture are art in themselves.

The Broad Museum

For more unique things to do in Los Angeles, contemporary art lovers won’t want to miss The Broad Museum. Across from the architecturally imaginative Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, The Broad features artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol, along with a revolving offering of special exhibitions such as Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms. I spent an entire day recently soaking in their latest offering, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” which was masterfully executed and thought provoking.


No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a little shopping. I recommend venturing over to the Pacific Palisades for the most recent addition to the Caruso portfolio, Palisades Village. As with any Caruso property, the grounds are exquisite and the sounds of Frank Sinatra waft through the air, but Palisades Village distinguishes itself with its bespoke selection of boutiques and dining. Featuring the first brick-and-mortar stores of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, Hollywood jewelry darling Jennifer Meyer and Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon, it fully embodies its tagline “Where the stars meet the sea.” Visit the concierge for perks like hands-free shopping via porter, gift shopping guidance or park-side picnics.

Jennifer Meyer


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