Expat Kiwi turned LA-local Kimberly Crossman gives her picks for the best places to hang out around the City of Angels.
LA can be pretty overwhelming if you are visiting for the first time. There are plenty of tours and touristy activities to take part in — get those out of the way, then use my list of 12 places to guide you through the city like a local.
Elephante: One of the newest places to visit in Santa Monica for drinks with a view. Because it is a trendy spot I would recommend getting a reservation. They make great cocktails and flatbreads.
Huntington Gardens: Sometimes LA can feel like a concrete jungle compared to NZ. The best part about the Huntington Gardens is that you can take a trip around the world here. There are sections dedicated to all the continents on the planet. It's like a theme park for those with a green thumb. They have a large selection of tea and snacks if you want to have a picnic.
Malibu cafe: This is a great spot to spend the day. There is amazing barbecue, lots of games, great drinks and loud country music to make you feel like you are in America. There is a great vibe here and an awesome spot to meet people if you have a large group.
Malibu Beach cafe: Located right at the end of the pier in Malibu, this is a stunning spot for breakfast. It's super healthy and you can watch the surfers and even spot a dolphin or two.
Malibu Wine Safari: Wine tasting and feeding a giraffe? Seems too good to be true. This is a really fun activity for LA locals and tourists. The property is stunning and there are lots of animals to feed while you try a selection of wines. Bring a camera.
Venice Ale House: A great low-key brunch spot before a day at the beach. They have a massive menu and you will be very entertained while you eat with the buzz of Venice all around you. Possibly the best people watching around. They also do flights of beer in skateboards, which is bloody cool, and one of the main reasons people flock to Venice Ale House in summer.
Fritto Misto: In need of a cheap and cheerful dinner that will make you so full that you need a nap? Well this is the spot. Tucked away in Santa Monica, this pasta joint will blow your socks off. If you are open to it, try the jumbo ravioli — you won't regret it.
Eataly: Essentially a food market with little restaurants around the outside, if you are a foodie and love to cook this will be a very exciting place to check out. It's located in one of the fancier malls I have ever encountered so if you are looking to also buy a Tesla after your lunch or dinner you will be in luck.
Sprinkles: LA might not be known for its desserts but if you have a sweet tooth and you are in Beverly Hills it is quite exciting to check out the Sprinkles ATM.
Joan's on Third: This cafe/market is a healthy and funky spot to look for celebs and get a quick bite to eat. Their coffee is great and they have good to-go options too if you need something to take with you.
Dialogue: This is the very best food experience I have ever had. It's expensive but it is such a tremendous dining experience you will remember it for life. This small restaurant is hidden in the alleyways of Santa Monica and only seats 18 people. You eat roughly 18 courses as the chef takes you through a journey. Sit at the bar so you can see them prepare all the dishes.
Getty Villa: This is a great place to stop if you are near the coast and in need of a bit of culture. The Villa is an educational centre and a museum dedicated to the arts and culture of ancient Rome and Greece. Grab a coffee and walk around this stunning location for a few hours before you head to the beach.
Top Tip: Remember to carry your ID with you at all times and don't forget to tip.
Along with her sister, Rochelle Sheldon, Kimberley Crossman has launched the new local gifting business, Joyable.co