One of Los Angeles’ smallest neighborhoods is also its chicest, most boisterous, and without a doubt most gay-friendly. WeHo packs more than 36,000 residents into less than two square miles at the base of the Hollywood Hills. You might know it for pop-culture icons like the rainbow-swathed Sunset Strip, trendy Melrose Place, the musically legendary Viper Room, or bustling Santa Monica Boulevard, but West Hollywood’s outward fame and nightlife are just the beginning.
West Hollywood isn’t just home to historic theaters and comedy clubs. It also boasts a design district that flexes its alluring showrooms and shops in the shadow of the behemoth Pacific Design Center. Plus, it’s adjacent to some of Los Angeles’ best hikes. WeHo sees travelers from across the globe year-round, but draws crowds for L.A. Pride every June, and for the world’s largest Halloween street festival each October. Positioned right in between Santa Monica’s shorelines and downtown’s skyscrapers, it’s an ideal jumping-off point for any other L.A. activities you want to fit in, too.
A must-see hot spot on the sprawling map of Los Angeles, WeHo is a neighborhood where you could (and should) spend a whole weekend. Here’s how to see all the revelry and style WeHo has to offer, in just a few days.
Sunset Boulevard’s West Hollywood stretch, known as the Sunset Strip, has a slew of hotels offering far-flung views across L.A. as seen from the foothills of Hollywood. Plus, each hotel has a personality of its own to accommodate every type of visitor.
For a boutique hotel that packs value and style, The Grafton on Sunset is a respite between busy bars and hiking adventures thanks to a saltwater pool and patio views, plus a cozy hotel bar hosting live music at night. Splurge-worthy options on the same block include the new Jeremy West Hollywood‘s massive-yet-minimalist atriums and alfresco patio, plus the Mondrian Los Angeles‘ renowned rooftop SkyBar—known for its pool parties and panoramic L.A. views. More economical options like The Standard‘s motel-style retro digs, an adult-only option with its own nightclub, still fit right into the Sunset Strip vibe.
Afternoon: Check into your hotel before orienting yourself on a quick walk of the West Hollywood Design District, where one hidden gem will allow you to see the whole neighborhood from an unexpected spot: The Restoration Hardware on Melrose Avenue. RH West Hollywood has a rooftop public garden with cushy seating areas and views of the Hollywood Hills. Bring some coffee and food from nearby Urth Caffe or Zinque up with you to enjoy the sun and refuel. By night there are fire pits and table games like foosball to enjoy. Spot WeHo landmarks like the massive geometric Pacific Design Center and MOCA—or Museum of Contemporary Art: Admission is free every Thursday from 5 to 8 if you’re arriving early for an extended weekend.
After, head to the nearby boutiques and showrooms down Melrose Avenue for some window shopping and to North Robertson Boulevard to spot the West Hollywood bars of reality TV fame: celebrity-frequented gay bar The Abbey, and Real Housewife-owned SUR and PUMP. To feel like a local, peruse designer shops like Chrome Hearts, James Perse, and Jenni Kayne. See the area by bike with a WeHo Pedals rental.
Night: For happy hour and dinner, you’re sure to stumble upon some options in the Melrose and Sunset areas, but E.P. & L.P. on La Cienega Boulevard is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for shareable Fijian fare and creative cocktails on yet another rooftop with plenty of greenery and fire pits.
Morning/Afternoon: After an introduction to West Hollywood (and maybe spotting a celebrity or two), consider breakfast at Mel’s Drive In (the retro chain of Grease fame) on Sunset before a quick car trip to nearby Santa Monica. Carnival rides on the pier and biking along the Venice Beach Boardwalk to the area’s namesake canals are a favorite. If L.A. proper is more your thing, head in the other direction to explore downtown spots like Grand Central Market and experience Historic Olvera Street’s Latin-American vendors. To stay close to West Hollywood, the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater’s handprints from movie stars of decades past are the perfect introduction to Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.
Night: Saturdays are when the Sunset Strip comes alive. Have a square meal to gear up for a long evening—indulge in modern Italian American fare on Estrella‘s buzzing patio or Thai street-food plates at Night + Market. Near-endless nightlife options include stand-up at the Comedy Store, live music at the world-famous Viper Room, Whisky a Go Go, and the Roxy Theater.
LGBTQI bars on Santa Monica Boulevard are packed almost nightly, with the most popular being The Abbey, Flaming Saddles, and Hamburger Mary’s packed to the brim with visitors and locals alike. And the crowds will return to all three for boozy brunch options come late morning.
Morning/Afternoon: After a weekend of indulgence, take Sunday to get outside (even if it’s after a slew of Abbey brunch specials) on one of L.A.’s best and most accessible hikes: Runyon Canyon is located a stone’s throw from the madness of the Strip, and is a favorite for spotting celebrities and sweeping views of the Los Angeles skyline. Its lower loop is an easy 1.9-mile hike, while the steeper and more challenging 2.65-mile loop has a worthwhile reward at the top. Alternatively, you can also hike to the Hollywood sign at Lake Hollywood Park, which is just a short car trip away.
Bikes and Hikes LA can take you on a guided trek or bike ride if you’re looking for a reason to stay active. Learn about more than just the trail markers on the Hollywood Hills Hiking Tour, or try the longer L.A. in a Day Biking tour that heads toward the coast via historic Route 66. With late flights out of LAX, you might have time.
That’s all just a taste of what West Hollywood has to offer. Its eclectic options and ideal location might make it the best place to stay for an L.A. trip—ask any local. For an extra day or alternative food and bar options, there’s also:
Restaurants & Cafes
Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame
The Farmers Market at The Grove L.A.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Los Angeles Travel Guide
- 5 Gay-Friendly Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts
- 9 Must-See Los Angeles Attractions
SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel, and stayed in WeHo with assistance from Visit West Hollywood. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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