Los Angeles

Los Angeles is my second home. The best way to experience LA is to celebrate the city’s diversity. The weather reminds me of Ho Chi Minh where I grew up. The food, shopping and the people you meet here are one of a kind. LA is a large city but don’t feel scared! Everyone is welcome in LA. My guide will help you explore the city and make you feel like a local in no time.

  • All
  • DINING
  • EXPERIENCES
  • EXPLORE
  • SHOP
  • ACCOMMODATION
EXPLORE, SHOP
Century Books

CENTURY BOOKSHOP

1031 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106
www.centurybookstoreofpasadena.com
(626) 344-6411
Century Books is located in Pasadena! I remember searching on google for a bookstore that had vintage fairytale books. I was in a Brothers Grimm and philosophy phase. I was yearning to read all these books again. I was feeling frustrated with the modern bookstore and wanted to go to a bookstore that had an old-world, vintage feel. I finally came across this charming, quaint bookstore and knew immediately I had to drive to Pasadena! This bookshop reminded me so much of the English countryside! It almost looked like a bookshop that Harry Potter might have stopped by in Diagon Alley. Before I made the trip I called the shop and spoke to the Owner, Judith. I was curious to see if they carried books by C.S Lewis as I was dying to get my hands on a copy of the Screwtape Letters and the Narnia Series. Judith was incredibly gracious, kind and helpful. When I arrived it was hard to leave! I stayed there for a long time. If I didn’t have my dinner appointment I probably would have stayed until closing hours to read. I love sitting on that cute little wooden chair and table with the vintage night lamp. I was so happy the store had all books ranging from classic literature, science, culinary arts, ballet, travel and more! Thank you Judith for sharing your knowledge! I learned so much with you and enjoyed my time at your beautiful bookshop. Judith also gifted me a beautiful astronomy notebook from Hungary as well as bookmarks. Thank you for your kindness and hospitality. It was a one of a kind experience.

DINING, EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE
Huntington Museum

THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY

71151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
huntington.org
(626) 405-2100
The Huntington Museum is the size of Disneyland! This place is huge! I only went to the Walt Disney exhibition but felt like I walked 100 miles! It’s a nice place to explore and I ended the day at the Chinese Garden to have lunch. I prefer the Norton Simon Museum but if I feel like going for an adventure then I definitely would go to Huntington. The museum shop is a must! The shop has an amazing collection of books and souvenirs to purchase! The botanical gardens were splendid! I really enjoyed Shakespeare and the Japanese Garden. It felt like an escape from Los Angeles!

DINING, EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE, SHOP
Brentwood Mart

BRENTWOOD COUNTRY MART

225 26th Street Santa Monica, CA 90402
brentwoodcountrymart.com
(310) 458-6682
Bookstores, Cafes, Shops and even a post office is located in this charming shopping venue! This is a really nice part of town and reminds me of Greenwich, Connecticut. Farmshop is great for Sunday brunch. You might be lucky and spot one of your favorite actors and actresses here! Sweet Rose Creamery has great homemade ice cream. I love that it’s right next to a kid’s clothing store so you will see a lot of cute kids dressed up with fairy wings, eating ice cream. I also love the Caffe Luxxe here. My favorite is the Iced Shakerato and their sandwiches are great for afternoon lunch. There are many things to do here and there is always a fun event or pop-up store so be sure to follow their website and instagram!

EXPERIENCES
LA Phil

LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC

111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA
laphil.com
(213) 972-7300
The Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. Gustavo Dudamel is incredible. I recommend buying front orchestra seats. You will be able to see the Maestro work his magic and meet friends who enjoy classical music. Don’t forget to visit the LA Philharmonic store. My recommendation is to buy the John Williams Berliner Philharmoniker Vinyl to play at home. You will not regret this experience.

DINING
Sunny Blue

SUNNY BLUE

12608 Washington Blvd A, Los Angeles, CA 90066
www.sunnyblueinc.com
(310) 751-6306
This is LA’s #1 spot for Japanese rice balls. I’ve been going to this store in Santa Monica since I moved to Los Angeles. This place makes amazing Japanese omusubis! My go-to order is the miso curry omusubi and miso soup! I love that their service is very quick and food is always fresh. After dining at Sunny Blue I always like to go to the beach or head home and start watching Japanese animation!

DINING, EXPERIENCES
Violet Bistro

VIOLET BISTRO

1121 Glendon Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
violetla.com
(310) 208-1121
A charming French bistro and bar located in Westwood Village. Violet Bistro serves High Tea every month. I went with my sister and we both sat outside in their beautiful courtyard. We ordered the signature tea with scones, finger sandwiches and other decadent desserts. I felt like I was in a romantic French fairytale! Violet Bistro also offers cooking classes and is open Tuesday - Saturday. This is the perfect place to spend the day with your friend or someone special. I’d like to say thank you to Owner and Chef Dana Slatkin for this chic and unforgettable experience!

DINING
Bottega Louie

BOTTEGA LOUIE WEST HOLLYWOOD

8936 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
bottegalouie.com
(213) 802-1470
This new beautiful cafe that just opened in West Hollywood is such a delight! West Angelenos no longer need to drive all the way to Downtown Los Angeles to have a French meal. The interior lives up to the Bottega Louie brand of French style, elegance and class. Although Bottega Louie is well-known for their French style macarons they offer much more. You can come here for breakfast, a light lunch (my favorite is the Caesar salad) or dinner. Their dinner menu is exquisite and on par with their weekend brunches! Most cafes here in Los Angeles close at 4pm so it is so nice to finally have a cafe that opens from early am to late pm. My must-haves when I dine here are the chocolate souffle and cappuccino. I like to come here to read, feel inspired and ponder about my next fashion blog post. The open-space, the natural light and raw marble table always makes me feel creative. This is a great cafe for dates and meeting up with friends. Lastly, I recommend ordering their large pastries for special occasions. For my birthday, I love ordering their Le Noir cake. It is so delicious and beautiful to look at. This place never ceases to amaze me!

EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE
Santa Monica Beach Volleyball

SANTA MONICA BEACH VOLLEYBALL

2600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica, California 90405, United States
santamonicabeachvolleyball.com
(213) 446-3771
Making friends can be challenging when you live in a big city. This is the perfect place to meet new friends, get in shape and learn a new sport. I have not played volleyball since high school. This was such a nice way to reconnect with an old hobby while making new friends! I think the highlight of Santa Monica Beach Volleyball is the people you meet and the gorgeous sunsets during evening class! Charlotte, the owner (she is in the photo with me) is very friendly and passionate about volleyball. She creates a warm and welcoming environment and always hosts such amazing volleyball events during the weekends. All levels are welcome! Don't be shy! I highly recommend you sign up! You will have such a fun time.

ACCOMMODATION
Proper Hotel

SANTA MONICA PROPER HOTEL

700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
properhotel.com/santa-monica/
(310) 620-9990
The Santa Monica Proper Hotel is right on Wilshire Boulevard and central to great restaurants and shopping. I love that the hotel is on a quiet street in Santa Monica and a couple of blocks away from the beach. The location is just amazing! You can always walk around the hotel and find something fun to do. The architecture is stunning and reminds me a lot of Frank Gehry’s work. The interior is designed by Kelly Wearstler who is known for her exploration of colors and use of contemporary and vintage decor. Just walking into the hotel makes me feel like I am not in Los Angeles! The Proper Hotel has a wonderful on-site restaurant called Calabra which is on the 6th floor and serves Mediterranean-style dishes. My sister and I love to enjoy the appetizers and watch the sunset from the bar. There is also a spa on the ground floor that offers everything from massages to ayurvedic consultations. I had such a wonderful experience here and I always recommend it to my friends and family when they visit LA.

DINING, EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE
Monsieur Marcel

MONSIEUR MARCEL GOURMET MARKET & BISTRO

6333 W 3rd St #150, Los Angeles, CA 90036
mrmarcel.com
(323) 939-7792
I am a Francophile! I adore French fashion, food and language. Monsieur Marcel is a laid-back luxe bistro and market. I think the reason why I am drawn to Monsieur Marcel is because it brings up fond memories of my childhood in Vietnam. My parents used to take me to the latest French cafe on Sundays as that was our family day. The bistro tends to get busy during the weekends so make sure to call for a reservation. For a romantic French meal, I suggest the following: Tartare, Soupe L'oignon and Steak Frites. After you dine, be sure to check out their market where you can find premium products imported from Europe. I just love that they have everything from France all in one place! It is so convenient and you’ll always leave happy and full!

DINING
Agua Viva

AGUA VIVA RESTAURANT

100 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
aguavivabyjose.com
(213) 349-8585
The Spanish restaurant is a blend of Latin and Asian cuisine. I recommend booking reservations in advance so you have the best view of LA City Hall. Bring your camera so you can take beautiful photos of the LA Skyline. The croquetas and hand rolls are delicious. You cannot leave this place without ordering the profiteroles!

SHOP
Palisades Village

PALISADES VILLAGE

15225 Palisades Village Lane Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
palisadesvillageca.com
(310) 525-1380
The outdoor shopping mall has a small-town feel with upscale shops and restaurants. I enjoy shopping here because I like being in this part of town. It’s always clean, stylish and the service is excellent. My favorite stores are the Chanel Beauty store, Byredo and Erewhon market. After shopping it’s always nice to stop by Sweet Laurel for a hot matcha and a slice of chocolate cake. It’s a cute little area with plenty of boutique stores and an outdoor terrace to relax and go for a stroll.

DINING
Milo and Olive

MILO & OLIVE

2723 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
miloandolive.com
(310) 453-6776
Milo and Olive is a Californian-Italian restaurant that is famous for their wood-fired pizzas. Once you come here you will not go anywhere else. This restaurant serves high-quality comfort food with the freshest ingredients. Everything on the menu tastes amazing! My favorite pizza is the A.G.C.T pizza served with an American Arnold Palmer. I don’t think they have this drink in Vietnam. When my parents came to visit me in Los Angeles I brought them here and they enjoyed this place very much. This place is kid-friendly and you’ll always see families enjoying a late brunch during the weekends. Their coffee and breakfast pastries are incredible as well!

EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE
LA Flower Market

LOS ANGELES FLOWER MARKET

754 Wall St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
originallaflowermarket.com
(213) 627-3696
The Los Angeles Flower market is the reason why I wake up early. I always get excited and bring a cart with me to buy a bunch of flowers! I like to come here during the weekdays when it’s not crowded. I just bring my coffee and start strolling around the different flower stalls and explore. When I come home, I love to listen to some classical music and arrange the flowers. It feels so nice to decorate my living room and bedroom with fresh flowers. I love the Peonies here. I can look at them all day and never get bored.

DINING, EXPERIENCES, EXPLORE
Norton Simon Museum

NORTON SIMON MUSEUM

411 West Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, California 91105
www.nortonsimon.org
(626) 449-6840
The first time I visited the Norton Simon Museum was on a school field trip. I was at LMU and studying South East Asian Art History. My professor was the curator for this exhibition. It was such an exciting time to learn about Buddhist iconography and Hindu artworks. I also enjoy the Garden Cafe as well. The food and coffee was surprisingly very good. Sometimes if I don’t feel like going into the museum I will just go to the cafe to read, look at the sculptures and then go to the museum shop. I like the Norton Simon museum because it’s not overwhelming and packed. The crowd is always lovely and it’s a fantastic place to bring friends and family. I also noticed that it has become the spot to bring dates! I think you will have a wonderful time here.

DINING
Bianca

BIANCA

8850 Washington Blvd Culver City, California 90232
www.biancalosangeles.com
(424) 603-4353
Bianca is an Italian, Argentinian, French cafe that serves organic pastries and coffee! I love their matchas and iced lattes! I ordered the Chaja pastry and Iced Caramel Latte. Their pizzas are great too! The cafe is very elegant and is open for lunch and dinner. I recommend you make reservations for the weekend as it does get very busy!