For a municipality measuring less than two square miles and with fewer than 35,000 residents, West Hollywood wields enormous influence over the L.A. lifestyle. With a disproportionate number of world-class art galleries, fashion boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs and theaters, it’s a frequent destination for locals and tourists alike. The city, often referred to as WeHo, is home to a large and influential gay community, protective of the city’s cultural development and quality of life. West Hollywood and the adjacent Mid-City West area celebrate diversity, as hipsters live in harmony with senior citizens and immigrants.
After dark, this iconic stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Doheny Drive and Crescent Heights Avenue becomes the hottest stretch of asphalt in L.A. County. The club scene rocks here with many legendary establishments. The Roxy, Whisky a Go-Go and Rainbow Bar have a long history of hosting performances from rock ‘n’ roll’s finest. Other Sunset Strip nightclubs include the Viper Room and the Key Club. The Comedy Store continues to showcase the leading names in standup as well as emerging stars. During the day, boutiques such as Live! on Sunset and beloved Book Soup draw traffic.
Hotels are an integral part of the Sunset Strip scene. Chateau Marmont, a glorious and notorious celebrity hangout throughout the decades, remains a discreet local getaway. Skybar, at the style-conscious Mondrian, retains its aura of exclusivity. At the Sunset Tower Hotel, Bugsy Siegel’s former suite has been converted into the Tower Bar.
Sunset Plaza, between La Cienega and San Vicente Boulevards on Sunset Boulevard, is a collection of tony shops and bistros with an international flavor and free parking, a novelty in this neighborhood. This is the city’s Euro Zone, where you’re apt to hear more French and Italian than Valley Girl. For up-to-the-minute fashion, check out the collections at Oliver Peoples or either of the two H. Lorenzo shops. Pamper yourself with a facial and massage at Ole Henriksen Face/Body Spa, a blowout at Drybar or a makeover at Blushington.
Melrose Avenue has become virtually synonymous with trendiness, and new expressions in fashion, art and food continue to percolate up and down this street with multiple personalities. One stretch of Melrose, east of Fairfax Avenue, has an eclectic mix of indie boutiques, cafes and coffeehouses interspersed with tattoo parlors and vintage shops. Stores such as Wasteland and Ed Hardy have wild façades and vibrant signage that add energy to the scene. Farther west, Melrose becomes très sophistiqué, showcasing upscale tastes at Ron Herman, Kelly Wearstler, TenOverSix and Vivienne Westwood. Just off Melrose is the quiet, fashionable three-block street of Melrose Place, where Bentleys line up for chic salons such as Frédéric Fekkai and cutting-edge boutiques such as Zero + Maria Cornejo, Monique Lhuillier or Marni.
Melrose Avenue’s massive Pacific Design Center is the hub of L.A.’s flourishing art, fashion and design district known as the Avenues, which runs along Melrose Avenue and Beverly and Robertson boulevards. The complex itself—monolithic blue, green and red buildings designed by celebrated architect Cesar Pelli—is itself noteworthy (you’ll either love it or hate it), but its 1.2 million square feet houses more than 130 showrooms catering to professional designers and luxury homeowners. PDC is also home to a satellite of downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and a stylish Wolfgang Puck eatery, Red Seven.
Beverly + West 3rd Street
Beverly Boulevard and West 3rd Street are major east-west streets running through West Hollywood, filled with trendy restaurants, design showrooms and boutiques from some of the hottest up-and-coming clothing designers. The two streets bracket the landmark eight-level Beverly Center, whose design is reminiscent of Paris’ Pompidou Center. Bloomingdale’s, Henri Bendel, Fendi, Gucci, Stuart Weitzman and the Capital Grille are among more than 160 establishments drawing consumers.
On West 3rd Street east of Beverly Center, you’ll find favorite boutiques such as Shareen, BedHead for chic pajamas and Duncan Quinn for bespoke tailored suits. There are many dining options such as Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Son of a Gun, plus a branch of Magnolia Bakery. On Beverly Boulevard, you can browse vintage Lanvin at Beige, or score handcrafted shoes at Calleen Cordero. Afterward, you can experience market-fresh American cuisine at Cooks County or hearty Italian on the romantic patio at Dominick’s.
Beverly Hills may be the toniest shopping district in L.A., but West Hollywood’s Robertson Boulevard is not far behind, particularly if you’re young and hot and have your own reality show. The celebutante set hits Curve for designer womenswear, Zimmermann for haute swimwear and Kitson for trendy accessories. A cutting-edge Chanel concept store illustrates the difference between Robertson Boulevard and more staid Rodeo Drive. For a breather between boutique-hopping, consider a cocktail with crab cakes on the picket-fenced patio of Ivy Restaurant, where famous faces practically outnumber those of civilians.
Technically part of the city of Los Angeles, the Fairfax District is one of the most culturally diverse and artsy neighborhoods in the West Hollywood area. At Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), a renowned multifaceted facility with more than 100,000 works from around the world. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, designed by architect Renzo Piano, showcases art from the contemporary and modern eras, while the latest additions to the LACMA campus include the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion and Ray’s & Stark Bar. Adjacent to LACMA is the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Additional venues at this formidable Museum Row include the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Architecture and Design Museum. South of the museums is a surprise for curious foodies: a neighborhood known as Little Ethiopia, where acclaimed Ethiopian restaurants are located. Be prepared to eat with your hands!
One of the district’s anchors is the historic Farmers Market, with more than 100 open-air produce stalls, shops and eateries. There are spots to satisfy virtually any craving, including a wine bar, taquería and stands with authentic Louisiana gumbo and Korean barbecue. Adjacent and connected by a vintage trolley is The Grove, an outdoor, pedestrian-only shopping center. The Grove has the character of an old-fashioned village square, with stained-glass street lamps and central fountain. Nordstrom, a movie theater and stores such as Athleta and Splendid are joined by eateries and restaurants.
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