West Hollywood Travel Guide
Perhaps the most overlooked hot spot to spend your Los Angeles vacation is West Hollywood.I think that’s because it gets overshadowed by the big attractions like the movie studio tours, the beach towns and of course Hollywood itself. There is also a tendency to dismiss it as “just” a LGBTQ enclave.
Truth is West Hollywood, better known to the locals as WeHo, is one of the vital, alive and hippest parts of LA you can explore. Nestled against Beverly Hills, it is difficult to tell from the world class architecture, manicured gardens, high end shops, unique boutiques, nightclubs, restaurants and bars where one ends and the other begins.
Centering your Los Angeles vacation in WeHo has a lot of advantages. It’s much nicer than Hollywood. MUCH nicer, and there’s actually a lot more to do. It’s centrally located between the beach attractions such as the Santa Monica Pier and the famous funky Venice Beach Boardwalk, the culture of downtown Los Angeles and the excitement of the studio tours up in Studio City. In a city as big and sprawling as LA, that can help you get a lot more packed into your vacation. Simply head out from your hotel to the beaches one day, then come back and enjoy the WeHo nightlife at night. Head off to Studio City the next and so on. You can also save a considerable amount of money making your West Hollywood travel plans with Trip.com
Here are a few of the attractions and things to do in WeHo:
Party on the Sunset Strip
The world famous Sunset Strip is that section of Sunset Boulevard that runs through West Hollywood. It’s where the legendary nightclubs including Whisky-A-Go-Go, The Roxy and the Viper Room that launched the careers of the most famous rock singers are located. Follow the links to find out which famous singers and rock groups came from each club. I most highly recommend stopping in at Whisky-A-Go-Go, aka Whisky’s by the locals. This was the venue that launched The Doors among others.
Best of all is you can walk. WeHo is considered the most walkable part of Los Angeles.
See Photographs of the Rock Legends at Morrison Hotel Gallery
The Morrison Hotel Gallery is located within the world class Sunset Marquis Hotel just off of Sunset Blvd at 1200 Alta Loma Road. The gallery was founded in 2001 by two big music industry professionals and the famous music photographer, Henry Diltz. Diltz was personal friends with many of the musicians that erupted out of nearby Laurel Canyon in the sixties and seventies and is the photographer that created the iconic album cover photo for the Doors album Morrison Hotel. Today the gallery represents 125 of the world’s top music photographers. The gallery contains some of the most intimate and personal photos of the music legends in the world.
See the Handprints and Busts of the Great Musicians at RockWalk
The RockWalk isn’t technically in WeHo. Due to the irregular shape of the town it’s just outside of it. But if you’re into music you can’t miss this attraction. RockWalk is at the entrance to Guitar Center at 7325 Sunset Blvd. You’ll find the handprints of all the greats such as The Moody Blues, bronze busts of Miles Davis and other blues legends and the guitars of Jimi Hendrix and the likes in glass display cases.
Shop on Melrose Avenue
Melrose Avenue has garnered quite a bit of fame for itself and the portions running through WeHo shoulder to shoulder with the section in Beverly Hills. Designer boutiques and high end housewares stores dominate the western end of Melrose in WeHo. When it intersects Robertson, you’ll find more of the same up and down its length.
Eat at Mel’s, the Most Famous Drive-In in the World
Mel’s Drive-In became famous when the San Francisco Mel’s was used to film the 1973 movie American Graffiti. However the Mel’s at 8585 Sunset may actually be more significant. It’s one of the few remaining buildings done in the once popular Googie style of architecture. Also due to its proximity to the famous music venues it was a hangout for the notable musicians during the formative years of rock. You’ll definitely want a photo or two of yourself standing in front of this iconic drive-in for your Instagram feed!
View the Cacti Public Art Installation
At the WeHo border to Beverly Hills on Santa Monica Drive at Doheny is a beautiful public art sculpture installation entitled Cacti by acclaimed artist James Petersen. Petersen’s translucent sculptures of Barrel, Yucca, Agave, Nopales, Organ Pipe and Saguaro Cacti are mesmerizing. The sculpture is located in the median strip of Santa Monica Blvd which is quite wide at this point. Take some time to stroll along the path and soak in the beauty of this work!
Traffic median at Santa Monica Blvd. and Doheny Drive
Celebrities love to shop along Melrose and Robertson so keep your eyes open. This world class shopping district is second only to Rodeo Drive for attracting celebrities. They are also known to dine frequently in some of the restaurants. These include:
Craig’s at 8826 Melrose Ave and the outdoor patio at The Ivy 113 N Robertson. They dine at these two restaurants so often that both have paparazzi lurking near the doors almost full time hoping to capture some shots of them as they enter or leave. One note, if you’re looking for good food on a budget, scratch them both off your list. They are pricy, hard to get into and I’ve heard the food is really nothing special.
Dine in the restaurant at the fabulous Chateau Marmot. While I can’t promise you you’ll find celebrities dining there, the elite hotel has always had a famous clientele and it quite well known for some of the antics of the stars. This is also the premier place to spend your nights if your budget can handle room rents of over $450 per night.
Dan Tana’s Restaurant at 9701 Santa Monica Blvd has been a major hangout of Hollywood celebrities for fifty years. It’s still frequented by celebrities.
The Formosa Cafe at 7156 Santa Monica Blvd is a Chinese restaurant nearly a century old. The past and present clientele of this Chinese cafe is impressive to say the least. Among them are Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Paris Hilton, Bono, Johnny Depp, Dean Martin and many more.
It’s debatable if Pink’s Hot Dogs at 709 N LaBrea is in WeHo or not, but it’s close enough. You’re not so likely to see celebrities dining there are you are to see the pictures of all the celebrities that have once dined there on the walls. Every inch of the walls is covered with their autographed pictures.
Shop at the Beverly Grove Mall
This huge shopping mall is having trouble deciding if it’s in Beverly Hills or WeHo. It doesn’t matter. It underwent a major renovation in 2018 and the beautiful mall not only has the typical things you would expect in a world class mall, it’s known for having some of the best and most trendy eateries.
Explore Boy’s Town
If you’re looking for the most gay friendly place to hang out in Los Angeles, this is it. WeHo is the center of the gay community and of LGBT activism in LA.
Boy’s Town is the section of Santa Monica Blvd running through WeHo with the rainbow crosswalk, gay pride flags, and lively cafes and restaurants usually adorned with colorful gay pride flags. Santa Monica Blvd is also part of the original Route 66 path and the signs designating the historic highway are adorned in the colors of the rainbow. The area centers on San Vicente and Santa Monica Blvd where you will find the rainbow crosswalk and gay pride flags in the median of Santa Monica Blvd.
Of note on the corner of that Intersection is Rocco’s WeHo. What makes this relatively new dinning establishment and watering hole unique is that it’s co-owned by Lance Bass, former singer with the famous boy band NSYNC.
A block over at 692 N Robertson is The Abbey, the most famous of all the gay restaurant/bars in Los Angeles. With a large patio seating area The Abbey was long the nucleus of gay life in WeHo but the crowd now is heavily dominated by tourists and those of any sexual persuasion.
Hamburger Mary’s at 8288 Santa Monica Blvd is a flamboyant eatery that has the motto “Eat Drink and be Mary”. Besides its flamboyance, it’s known for drag queen bingo and karaoke.
Stroll this stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. It’s packed with world-class shops, book stores, restaurants, bars and other things to feast your eyes on.
Where to stay in West Hollywood
Hotels in WeHo can range from $1000 per night to as low as about $225 per night. Most hoover around $400 a night an up. Any of them I have seen are world class hotels, though you can probably find an off the radar dive hotel if you drive around.
Some hotels I would recommend are:
The Le Parc Suite Hotel. This is a 4 star hotel with rates pushing $400 per night, but you can get the same rooms for about $250 per night through the Hotels.com link we have below. It’s located at 733 NW Knoll Dr.
The Ramada Plaza at 8585 Santa Monica Blvd. Rooms run around $400 per night, but again you can get them for about $230 through Hotels.com
The Mondrian 8440 W Sunset is a 4.5 star hotel with a rooftop pool and sundeck. Discounted rates run about $400 a night
The Sunset Marquis that we mentioned above is a class act all the way. Rooms run about $400 per night.
If you search the listing on our Special Hotel Deals in West Hollywood Hotels.com link for West Hollywood hotels, you can find some better prices with a number of hotels in the $250 range. Of course prices will vary depending on the season.
I hope this helps you find fun things to do while you’re visiting West Hollywood. Be sure to explore our other Los Angeles Travel Guides and our LA Tourist Attractions category for more of the fun things to do in LA.
See more West Hollywood photos after the break….
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