West Hollywood, California, is LA’s design and trend central, where boutiques, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs line the streets. In some ways it can be likened to New York’s West Village, since it’s both hip and LGBTQ-friendly. WeHo, as it’s often called, may be the most accommodating neighborhood for gays south of the Castro in San Francisco.
Beginning in the 1920s, WeHo was a quiet neighborhood where many celebrities chose to live. Today, visitors can see the former homes of Betty Davis, Tennessee Williams, the Marx Brothers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bette Midler, Steve Martin, Marlene Dietrich, and Clark Gable. These dwelling places can be seen via a self-guided tour, or with a more immersive guided tour, such as Roy Rogers Oldenkamp’s Architectural Walking Tour,
The West Hollywood Design District encompasses Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue. This is must-see WeHo, where Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Jules Seltzer & Associates, Phyllis Morris, and Diva/B&B Italia have their shops and showrooms. A major site is the Pacific Design Center, affectionately referred to as the Blue Whale, for its distinctive blue glass exterior.
When it comes to accommodations, WeHo has a range of rooms. The Chamberlain West Hollywood is a hotel that mingles Zen-like calm and Entourage style; the rooftop pool is an oasis when LA overwhelms. Sunset Marquis has rock ‘n’ roll style, The Mondrian is sleek, and the Chateau Marmont is a Hollywood classic, a real “if walls could talk” kind of place.
Those on a budget will find plenty of restaurants where a quick bite won’t break the bank. Those with cash to spurge will have a choice of dining at some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, including The Ivy, Lucques, BOA Steakhouse, Koi, and Asia De Cuba.
While no one would describe LA as a walker’s paradise, most people would make an exception with West Hollywood, which is eminently walkable. Dotted here and there between the stylish venues are Jewish delis, Russian shops, and Armenian groceries, still flourishing signs of West Hollywood’s earlier ethnic enclaves.
For a trip back into the past, where the ghosts of Hollywood still linger, head over to Dan Tana’s, or to Formosa Café. The atmosphere is pure 50s and 60s Hollywood, without any of the gloss that comes from retro imitation, since these places have been around forever.
Night owls will want to check out West Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip, legendary for being the launching pad for rock groups. Over the decades, bands like The Doors, The Byrds, and Guns N’ Roses honed their chops at clubs like Whiskey a Go Go, and the Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd. These clubs are still open today, and with new up and comers taking the stage, there’s no telling which new band on the rise might be playing when you’re in town.
WeHo also has some of LA’s hottest nightclubs, including Pump, The Abbey, Rage, and Oak.
WeHo kicks it up more than a notch with its annual LA Parade & Pride Festival in June, and its October Halloween Carnaval, which features costumes guaranteed to make prudes cut and run for safer straits.