Pairing new sandals with a new city is kind of a rookie mistake. But, in my defence, I thought my feet would be safe in L.A., a city notorious for its car-bound lifestyle. (I mean, basically all of The Hills seemed to happen in people’s convertibles, so….) Much to my blistered heels’ surprise, however, I spent a few days in the West Coast capital almost entirely on my feet – and in all that wandering and strolling (and eventual wincing and limping), I discovered a “new L.A.” that has so much more than Rodeo Drive and In-N-Out Burger. It’s a city that’s slowly gotten cool through a gradual migration of creative thinkers, like native New Yorker Lena Dunham and Tom Ford, who showed his fall/winter 2015 collection there instead of in London. I also returned home with a perfectly-broken-in pair of Church’s Kelsey sandals.
Breakfast from Eggslut Credit: Instagram.com/eggslut
EXPLORE Here’s a recipe for a perfect L.A. morning: Start your day at the 99-year-old Grand Central Market, on the edge of the Financial District, where you’ll make two stops. First, you’ll grab an almond latte (and an almond croissant, because why not?) at G&B Coffee and sip that on a bench outside facing The Angels Flight, the old tramway local residents used back when this was the city’s open-air grocery store. Afterwards, you’ll head farther into the market (now home to 2,800 square metres of food vendors who hawk everything from Chinese food to green juices).
The Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad Museum
Toward the back, you’ll run into a lineup. That’s the queue for Eggslut, and you should get into it ASAP if you have any hope of getting your hands on its legendary brioche-bunned bacon, egg and cheese sando. You’re now properly fuelled for your visit to The Broad, the brand-new contemporary-art museum a short walk up the hill. Warning: If you want to get into the Infinity Mirrored Room (as seen in Adele’s When We Were Young video), there’s another line in your future, but it’s totally worth it to have an existential crisis all alone in a room of reflective glass.
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market Credit: Instagram.com/chloegarcia
SHOP Downtown L.A. (or DTLA) is easily the most pedestrian-friendly part of the city. If you’re after a more ephemeral sort of souvenir, the historic Original Los Angeles Flower Market is a great first stop of the day; you can peruse over 100 varieties of in-season blooms alongside professional florists who will do more with those peonies than just Instagram them.
Poketo store display
Poketo, located in the Arts District, is one of those stores that you’ll go into to browse and emerge with a bunch of pens, notebooks and a phone case – many by cool indie designers – that you didn’t know you needed but now can’t live without. If you want to get your hair cut and pick up a little something from an emerging designer, try The Well on South Olive Street: This converted warehouse boasts a salon, pop-ups of local designer goods and an in-house line of minimalist basics for men and women.
The Ace Hotel Rooftop Credit: Spencer Lowell
STAY Right in the heart of the downtown core’s renaissance – and just around the corner from A.P.C. and Acne – is the so-hip-it-hurts Ace Hotel. The refurbished art-deco building is full of quirky touches – pencil sketches on the walls of the lobby, guitars in guest rooms – that are a nod to its former life as the United Artists headquarters, and it has a killer coffee bar right by the doors, perfect for grabbing a latte and a chocolate-chip cookie before you head back out into the city. And for when you return, perhaps a little footsore, later in the afternoon? Up on the 12th floor there’s a pool and covered patio with incredible views of the city through the flower-covered railing.
The café at the Ace Hotel
EAT If you’re staying at the Ace, there’s no shortage of great options in your vicinity. Just down the block there’s the vintage-y glam Faith & Flower (get the devilled eggs), Guisados for tacos and Cole’s for the legendary “French dip” roast-beef sandwich. But if you really want to sample a smorgasbord of local cuisine, we suggest getting in touch with the infectiously-L.A.-boostering “Sally from the Valley,” a.k.a. Sally Tiongco, the founder of Six Taste Food Tours. In the space of an afternoon, she’ll take you to around seven different eateries, like, say, Jamaican joint Green Grotto and bakery Semi Sweet, for a grazing-size tasting menu of what’s hot and happening in the culinary scene at the time.
Faith and Flower’s devilled eggs Credit: Instagram.com/faithandflower
Fun fact: Sally says that L.A.’s restaurant offerings are so vibrant that she and her husband have made a pledge to never go out together to the same place twice. If you want to venture farther afield than DTLA, she also offers tours for other on-the-rise areas, like the Arts District and Thai Town.
Patio at Mame Shelter
GO OUT For a night on the town Angeleno-style, start with a show at the Regent Theater, originally a cinema built in 1914 that’s now a revolving door of indie-music excellence, like How to Dress Well and Hinds, both of whom have shows there this fall. (Hint.) Keep the party going literally next door at Little Easy, a N’Awlins-themed jazz joint located in the basement of the Alexandria Hotel. We hear great things about its Sazerac cocktail. (Another hint.)
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s Credit: Luke Gibson
Got a post-jet-lag second wind? These next two watering holes require a brief Uber or Lyft ride, but given that your driver is probably the next Ryan Reynolds, the quick trips are quintessential L.A. experiences in themselves. For something plein-air, head to the newly opened rooftop at Mama Shelter, where you’ll quaff pitcher after pitcher of sangria while snuggling under colourful blankets. For more of a speakeasy experience, roll up to the refrigerator door at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, which opens to reveal a bar that’s basically a living room from the 1970s, right down to the boozy snow cones on offer.
Matisee beige leather sandals ($135, at heelboy.com).
Seychelles metallic silver leather sandals ($104.94, seychellesfootwear.com).
Miista beige and silver leather and rubber sandals ($244.99, at getoutsideshoes.com).
“Walking in L.A.” – Missing Persons
“Los Angeles, I’m Yours” – The Decemberists
“Hollywood” – Marina and the Diamonds
“Hallelujah California” – Luna Shadows
George Augusto, Raquel Allegra
STAUD (120 N Santa Fe Avenue)
Shop the A-list-approved collection at this Los Angeles studio founded by former Reformation fashion director Sarah Staudinger. Open Saturdays or by appointment.
RAQUEL ALLEGRA (8372 West Third Street)
Allegra’s first flagship boutique is a 30-minute drive from downtown, but it’s worth the detour. Her boho-influenced fall collection features some of the raddest tie-dye velvet around town.
BUILDING BLOCK (970 N Broadway, Unit 104)
The flagship Chinatown shop for this L.A.-based brand offers architectural accessories that pop – think bucket bags, cylindrical shapes and oversized totes.
Packing List text by Lisa Guimond.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of ELLE Canada.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter