1. The Trails Café, 2333 Fern Dell Drive, Los Angeles
The Trails is a little café tucked in the middle of Griffith Park that is my favorite place to go on a Saturday morning to catch up with a friend over tea and a slice of quiche. It sits perfectly between Fern Dell and the start of a trail up to the Griffith Observatory, but somehow feels miles away from LA. I like to go right when they open at 8am and retreat to one of their benches for a few hours of sketching or brainstorming before starting my day.
2. The Eames House, 203 Chautauqua Boulevard, Pacific Palisades
I like to think of the Eames House as one of LA’s lesser known marvels, and tend to tell every out-of-towner to make their way out to Pacific Palisades to see it. The house sits on a beautiful meadow overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and most days of the week, you can tour the grounds and peek inside the interior, which is decorated exactly as Charles and Ray left it. Though it’s hard not to want to photograph every nook and cranny of the property, it’s also the perfect place to sit silently, admiring one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture the city has to offer. One time the docent even let me picnic on the lawn with a packed lunch.
3. The Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino
The Huntington Library is another one of the city’s beautiful properties where you can easily whisk away an afternoon. The gardens span from desert landscape, to roses, to a conservatory, to a Japanese tea garden, all with uniquely enchanting qualities. I like to sneak around here on a weekday when the crowds are less abundant and spend the bulk of my time at the Japanese House (pictured above), which is widely considered one of the best examples of early 20th-century Japanese architecture in the United States.
4. Mignon Restaurant, 128 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles
Continuing on the theme of places that don’t feel like you’re in LA, one of my favorite restaurants to retreat to at the end of a long day is a little place called Mignon. It’s a cozy food and wine bar in the historic core of Downtown LA that feels as close as you can get to sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris. The interior is small and dimly lit, with walls covered in beautiful oil paintings and funky light fixtures overhead. An evening here always helps me get my dose of Europe when traveling is no where on the agenda.
5. Hennessey & Ingalls, 300 S. Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles
One of the best things about Los Angeles is its thriving art and design scene, even down to its bookstores. Though few and far between, there are a handful of bookstores around the city that are dedicated to literature on art and architecture, my favorite of which is Hennessey and Ingalls. I used to have to travel across town to Santa Monica to get my fix, but they recently closed up shop there to open a Downtown LA location that’s not too far from home. Whenever I’m struggling for ideas or inspiration, I’ll pop by here and peruse their endless collection of design books.