The perfect beach weather, the vibrant culture, the gorgeous natural landscapes, the incredible restaurants and hopping night life—it’s so easy to love Los Angeles. That is, until you get stuck in traffic for an hour (if you’re lucky) trying to get between them all. Suddenly the exhaust fumes and restless legs remind those of us who aren’t used to such rituals about one of the other, more infamous aspects of the city of angles.
Determined to avoid this rather ugly and frustrating side of L.A., on a recent trip I was given the rewarding challenge of getting to know this sunny, SoCal city without a car. And it wasn’t in Santa Monica or Venice, neighborhoods that seem more traditionally pedestrian-friendly, but instead in the true urban heart of the sprawling metropolis where West Hollywood meets Beverly Hills, the “Miracle Mile district”—just minutes from many of L.A.’s hottest attractions including top notch shopping and dining and Museum Row.
The challenge was given by Hotel Wilshire, a lovely Kimpton, boutique hotel, perfectly located in the district, and a hospitality partner in the Car Free L.A. tourism initiative. As part of the program, the Wilshire offers participating guests a pedometer, sunblock, and some healthy snacks as encouragement for reveling in exploration on foot. Additionally, the hotel offers guests the use of some very cool, custom designed PUBLIC bicycles, helping them get around with even more swiftness and style.
My own perfect car free day began feel insanely refreshed after having slept in the spacious, modern comforts of my Wilshire room. Wandering downstairs, I opted for taking out a bike, as I wanted to cover as much ground as I could on my one day in town. Coming from New York, I was surprised at how easy and safe it was to get around by bike in the downtown neighborhood. Careful to be respectful and obey traffic laws, I meandered down the wide range of interesting streets, from quaint and quiet neighborhood cross sections, to the busier, high end shopping avenues like Melrose, to the world-class museum and design districts, home to the likes of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the Craft & Folk Art Museum and A+D Architecture and Design Museum .
It was quite impressive how much was within reach on foot or by bike from the Hotel. Wanting to push the diversity of the city landscape even further, I rode up to the famous Runyon Canyon trail for some heart pumping hiking and breathtaking city views.
Working up quite an appetite on the trail, I hopped back on my bike and made a B line for Crossroads Kitchen. The new restaurant has been getting a lot of attention for its modern vegetarian menus, focused on simple but elevated dishes, driven by the season and the deft skill of Chef Tal Ronnen. Though getting a table at dinner time can be a bit of a scramble, a leisurely lunch might be the incredible, under the radar way to get a taste of the restaurant’s delightful offerings. A back room that is opened only for lunch gives a pleasant, almost speakeasy-in-a-market feel to the affair, a perfect compliment to the simple, vegetable focused menu.
Each day a different hand-made pasta is the most likely star of the menu, but the sandwiches (which have the option of coming on gluten-free bread), soups and salads are all richly imagined and wonderfully satisfying. Having spent the morning hiking, biking and being otherwise active, dessert was ordered without question, and my caloric burn was gloriously replaced with a divine pumpkin pie mousse that nearly floated off the plate.
Thus well sated, I was off again on my bike to indulge this time in some cultural enrichment at LACMA. Though it would take many days to take it all in, a few hours in the late afternoon gave a fine taste for the incredible collections on hand.
However, I had other priorities on this particular evening—namely the sunset and me, from The Roof on Wilshire. Settling comfortably into the cushioned banquette seat, with a house cocktail in hand, I watched the long evening shadows stray over the distant hills and the city skyline. From this beautiful vantage in the light of the setting sun, I could only wonder at how magnificent an experience I’d had, truly getting to know Los Angeles in a way that was far more intimate than I’d imagined.
That night, I settled back into my awesome bed, tired and satisfied like I have not been in quite some time.
– Ava Fedorov
Hotel Wilshire, A Kimpton Hotel
6317 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Reservations: (866) 650-2154
Hotel: (323) 852-6000
Learn more about Discover Los Angeles’ Car-Free L.A.: