With its mix of celebrity culture, trendy shopping, healthy food, beachlife vibes and Insta-worthy backdrops at every turn, Los Angeles just might be the perfect long weekend with a teen. It was the first visit to Los Angeles for my 19-year-old daughter, who is in college in New York. We met up for her fall break and packed too much into three days. Here is what we loved.

Navigating L.A.’s traffic can be treacherous, so we found a fun solution: two nights in Beverly Hills and one in Santa Monica. Splitting our stay let us enjoy both city and beach vibes hassle-free. Just remember, you have to drive everywhere in L.A., so plan accordingly!

Beverly Hills: Where to Stay

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills’ prime location and jaw-dropping aesthetics wowed us. Designed by Pierre Yves Rochon, known for his work at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, the ambiance strikes all the right ‘quiet luxury’ notes, a bit glam but also understated. Think: lots of marble, burnished bronze and rosewood accents complemented by plush furniture in serene blues and greens. The crowd is chic but approachable, the staff are attentive without being overbearing. 

The Rooftop by JG at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
The Rooftop by JG at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills serves American cuisine by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in a garden setting. (The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills)

All 170 guestrooms and suites are spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to private terraces with views overlooking Beverly Hills or the Hollywood Hills. Go for the corner Two Queen Suite where you can share a bedroom, like a sleepover. We loved this roomy 775-square-foot suite on the penthouse floor with panoramic views from two 146-square-foot private terraces. It also features a massive bathroom with a Dyson Hair Dryer (the Dyson Air Wrap available through housekeeping) and a separate living room for hanging out. For VIPs, contact Rashawnda Vereen-Wood ([email protected]), the reservations manager.

Beverly Hills “Must-Do’s”

Let the hotel drive you around Beverly Hills in its Rolls Royce. It is complimentary to all guests on a first-come, first-serve basis. We saw the high school from Beverly Hills 90210, Rodeo Drive and (the gates of) many beautiful celeb homes. Our ride in the Rolls was an absolute highlight and perfect for snaps to share on TikTok and the ‘Gram. Another must-do is a morning hike to the Hollywood sign, which is marking its 100th anniversary. Our guide Sarah from Bikes & Hikes LA Tours was knowledgeable and hilarious (she’s also a stand-up comic, of course—it’s L.A.!). The hike is about four miles, and not too strenuous. Nevertheless, reward yourselves by picking up the “Billion Dollar” Acai bowl at Sunlife Organics topped with so much stuff—it is 100 percent worth the $40 price tag (though so big, two people can share one). Then hit The Getty, a sprawling cultural campus filled with a mix of masters and modern art, gorgeous gardens and views of L.A. and the beach. It's a fun way to spend a few hours.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
The luxury poolside cabanas at Waldorf AstoriaBeverly Hills offer exclusive treatments. (©Vanessa Tierney Photography )

Shopping: For cool vintage pieces, decorative home goods and the chance to discover up-and-coming brands, hit L.A.’s most famous flea market, Melrose Trading Post. We also loved The Grove, an outdoor mall with cool brands like Alo yoga, Aritzia, Brandy Melville and Lululemon. Refuel at the adjacent Original LA Farmers Market, a 90-year-old landmark that has hundreds of vendors serving all kinds of ethnic street food, perfect for lunch.

Make time to relax back at the hotel. A visit to the 12th-floor rooftop is a must, offering breathtaking 360-degree views. The pool and hot tub are surrounded by chic cabanas and sun loungers, but what really stole the show was the hotel’s ingenious conversion of one cabana into a hot/cold experience. Guests couldn’t stop talking about it. Featuring a 50-degree Fahrenheit bathtub and a 150-degree Fahreinhet infrared sauna for two, it was a unique and refreshing treat, available on a first-come, first-served basis. This brilliant idea was the brainchild of General Manager Antonio Bugarin and Spa Director Amanda Raich, who oversees the hotel’s 5,000-square-foot La Prairie Spa, boasting six treatment rooms. Don’t miss the signature caviar-infused facials, perfect for rejuvenating and firming the skin, with optional add-ons like LED light therapy, radiotherapy and oxygen boosts, catering to both teenage and mature skin concerns. For spa bookings, reach out to Raich at [email protected].

Hollywood sign.
The author and her 19-year-old daughter in front of the Hollywood sign, which marked its 100th anniversary last year.  (Emily Goldfischer)

Dining: You don’t need to leave the hotel as Rooftop by JG offers American-style food by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in a gorgeous elevated garden setting. It’s divine and buzzy. Or let helpful concierge Taylor MacDonald, ([email protected]) recommend something to suit your mood from LA classic, Matsuhisa the original flagship restaurant from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, to newbie Mexican Casa Madera in the former Asia de Cuba space. Taylor has lots of advice for celeb spotting restaurants, if that is a prerequisite.

Santa Monica: Where to Stay

Part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Shutters on the Beach offers the perfect beachfront location in Santa Monica, just steps away from the famous pier and shops. With coastal chic vibes, this cozy cottage-style hotel blends comfort and luxury, with interiors by Michael S. Smith, best known for his work on the Obama White House. The warm, inviting lobby, adorned with dark wood paneling and a wood-burning fireplace, feels like a spacious living room. It’s no surprise to find a laid-back yet fit crowd of young families and vacationing couples here, unwinding with a book or enjoying nightly games and live music. The staff, helpful yet relaxed, set the chill tone.

The property’s 186 guestrooms and 12 suites feature white painted shuttered doors opening onto breezy balconies overlooking the beach or the sun-drenched pool deck with chaise lounges. The 1,300-square-foot Beach House suite is the one to book, on the top floor, with direct views of the crashing waves of the Pacific from the two Juliet balconies off the large living room. The King bedroom is on the corner with tons of light and more beachy views. There is a separate den with a sofa bed and a big bathroom with an oversized jacuzzi tub, perfect for a long soak. For VIP room bookings, contact Joanna Beckett ([email protected]), director of sales.

Shutters on the Beach
Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica has 186 guestrooms and 12 suites and is steps away from the famous pier and shops. (Shutters on the Beach)

The first thing to get into the Cali spirit is to take the hotel’s yoga class on the beach. Then walk, rollerblade or take a bike on the wide paths along water down to Venice to see the famous Muscle Beach and skateboard parks, or ride up toward Malibu and check out the carnival rides on the Santa Monica Pier on the way. The hotel can also arrange surfing lessons, or you can easily lose an afternoon in the plush padded lounge chairs surrounding the pool, or indulge in a spa treatment.

Shopping (and eating): Venice’s famed Abbot Kinney Boulevard lives up to the hype. Indie boutiques here range from high-end denim at Stronghold to cool loungewear brand Aviator Nation. Plan to spend an afternoon (or longer) browsing the shops and soaking up the scene. Don’t miss upscale grocer Erewhon around the corner for the TikTok-famous Hailey Bieber smoothie. Restaurant Gjelina is another celeb favorite for locally sourced, produce-forward food and is also recommended by the Michelin Guide. If you’re lucky and happen to go to Abbot Kinney on the first Friday of the month (like we were), the street turns into a foodie hotspot with a variety of food trucks along about three blocks. As the sun went down it got busy outside with people sipping cocktails, eating tacos, burgers and Asian pot stickers. Super fun.

Shutters on the Beach
Shutters on the Beach provides bikes to explore the Santa Monica and Venice area. Guests can also take surf lessons from professionals. (Shutters on the Beach)

For more really cool shopping, head up the PCH to the Malibu Country Mart, a collection of cafes and boutiques with a hippie-chic vibe. Think: colorful handcrafted moccasins, distressed leather jackets, soft sweaters, embroidered denim.  While you may not have been to Malibu Country Mart, you’ve definitely seen snaps of this idyllic outdoor mall as Simon Cowell and the Kardashians are regulars; actress Mindy Kaling also debuted her own swimwear line there. We opted not to eat at Malibu Country Mart, but definitely have a coffee at Alfred. Best iced cappuccino, ever. Instead, head over to the Malibu Pier and eat overlooking the beach at Malibu Farm. They also have the cutest surf shop with adorable souvenirs.

Hiking: We loved two spots (and they are also favorites of locals). One is the Temescal Canyon Trail, a 3.8-mile loop trail with no backtracking, providing excellent views of the ocean and fantastic photo ops. Depending on how fast you walk, it is about an hour and a half to two hours. For something shorter, head to Dume Point, which is a dramatic trail along the cliffs of Malibu.

Shutters on the Beach
A Beach House Suite at Shutters on the Beach offers 1,300 square feet of space. Each suite has two balconies and two fireplaces. (Shutters on the Beach)

Dining: Remember the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” with Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves? Well, Shutters’ One Pico restaurant is the setting where the two of them have dinner in the film. So, it’s not the Hamptons, but it does have spectacular ocean views and very fresh seafood.  Otherwise, walk over to one of the buzzy streets in Santa Monica, we opted for the classic Wolfgang Puck Chinoise on Main, but we hear a new favorite for Southeast Asian is Cobi’s. Expect well-made curries and excellent raw fish preparations. For reservations or suggestions, any of the Concierge Team can be reached at [email protected] or Willem de Geus ([email protected].)

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