The perfect 36 hours in LA begins and ends with two fantastic restaurant dinners that bracket a day of shopping. But where to start with so many possibilities? Here's one itinerary for the Womantraveler.
What recession fears? LA restaurants remain jammed despite the economic downturn, especially at these popular finds -- Fraiche in Culver City, The Rose Cafe in Venice, Campanile toward downtown, Upstairs2 near the 101 Freeway and JiRaffe in Santa Monica.
Witnessing the dark history of the US incarceration of its own citizens during World War II is a sobering experience at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo. Not only are we taken into the concentration camps in the US West -- where 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned for more than three years from 1942 to 1945 -- but we are provoked anew regarding the fragility of democracy and our responsibility for preserving it.
You may have missed the annual end-of-summer Barneys New York Warehouse Sale in Santa Monica, but you don't have to next year with LA's Shopper Shuttle. This service is a dream come true for fashionistas and wannabes seeking to fulfill spending fantasies in a city offering blinding choices and variety.
If Key West is the southernmost point in the US, then surely its West Coast sibling, Playa del Rey, one of the beach villages of Los Angeles, has some claim to being the last toehold on the Pacific side of the continent. This is, of course, a totally inaccurate statement geographically (as there are indeed and points west of Playa), but spiritually it is not -- Playa del Rey has the genuine funky lack of pretense that Key West wished it still retained.
When in LA, dining at JiRaffe Restaurant in Santa Monica is a dependable quality favorite. Why? Its Monday night three-course prix fixe bistro meal is a steal at $24 per person (plus wine), a special that starts the work week off just right. A steal not only because of the price, but we experience the same high-quality JiRaffe cooking that stands tall on weekends as well.
Everyone wants to know where chefs eat when they're not cooking in their restaurants. Hint -- they usually go to friends' restaurants, occasionally scope out the competition, or frequently entertain other chefs and friends at home, where the experience is casual, effortless, yet inventive. In LA, here are the top 15 restos frequented by chefs, according to a recent survey.
Barney's New York Warehouse Sale at Santa Monica Airport is a semi-annual free for all that starts today and trumps a regular dose of Loehmann's. Word is that it's the best sale in town -- in a fashion-conscious city where insider shopping secrets are uncovered on a daily basis. The sale lasts until Aug. 21, offering progressively reduced prices. NB -- there are no dressing rooms!
Themed -- not themepark -- shopping is the way to get the most out of Los Angeles and most places for that matter, and Surfing Cowboys of the antique retro variety in Venice, CA, is an excellent place to start.