Los Angeles lays claim to the title of “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” It’s also one of the world’s leading destinations for business trips.
The trick for business travelers is to stay focused on their tasks at hand; have strong plans in place, and not get distracted. While that’s easier said than done, we can help—and include room for some fun, as well.
Where to Go:
It’s ironic that Los Angeles International Airport code, LAX, shares three letters with relax—because you won’t when traveling through. It ranks as one of the worst airports in the country. Here’s how to make the most of a potentially poor experience.
|How to Get to Downtown Los Angeles|
Where to Go:
If you can fly into and out of Hollywood Burbank, do it. It’s much more convenient than LAX and features non-stop flights to major hubs like Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, New York, and more. Having said that, there’s not much here as far as amenities.
|How to Get to Downtown Los Angeles|
BurbankBus & Metro
Head to L.A. with a plan, lest you get lost in the glamor of the place. Sticking to these tips is a good start.
Traffic is so infamous in L.A. that the city’s soccer rivalry, between LAFC and the Los Angeles Galaxy, is known as “El Tráfico.” If you can avoid driving, in other words, do it, and stick to these transportation tips.
Some neighborhoods of Los Angeles are more walkable than you might think, but there’s a catch. They’re serious about jaywalking here. A ticket for this otherwise minor offense can run you as much as $250.
Part of it is you’ll struggle to hail a taxi in downtown areas. Most of it is you’ll end up paying significantly more for one than you would an Uber or Lyft. Keep your preferred ride-share app handy.
Don’t judge a trip by its distance. Instead, check Waze or Google Maps often. And always—ALWAYS—leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need, especially when you’re heading to the airport.
It’s not as comprehensive as other major cities, but it’s hard to argue about the price: $1.75 for a one-way ticket, with free transfers in the same direction. If you’re near a Metro stop, it’s worth at least exploring public transportation as an option. In addition, the website has useful features, like real-time arrival information and a trip planner.
You have time to escape the city. A drive up and down a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible is worth splurging for. If that’s not an option, you’ll grow far too frustrated looking for parking and navigating gridlock traffic to justify renting a car.
Tinseltown produces more than movie stars, as evidenced by the litany of musical legends that call Los Angeles home.
There are plenty of hotels in Downtown Los Angeles, aka DTLA, to set up your temporary business home while enjoying all of the leisure amenities you’d expect of the city.
Known as “The Host of the Coast” since 1923, the Millennium Biltmore remains one of the most popular hotels in DTLA. There’s so much elegance—the Biltmore hosted the Oscars in the 1930s and ‘40s—it’s hard to imagine being productive here. But you will enjoy your stay in rooms that range in luxury, and if you feel the need to scratch that work itch, there’s Wi-Fi.
You’ll get everything you’d expect out of the JW Marriott brand, with an added dose of Los Angeles. The hotel overlooks L.A. Live, the city’s sports and entertainment home, and features a rooftop pool and bar. It’s also just a half-mile from the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Work and play are okay to mix here. Or rather, you’ll find yourself struck by the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles’s upscale amenities. These include a shallow dipping pool on the roof with a poolside bar, and a variety of dining options.
Another architectural landmark in a downtown area full of them, the NoMad Hotel Los Angeles is open for business as well as leisure. Sure, the picturesque pool stands out. But so do the event spaces, with state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment and catering from an award-winning culinary team.
If you’re a Club InterContinental guest, you’ll get access to the majestic 70th-floor lounge that overlooks the city and offers relaxation, light dining, drinks, and complimentary Wi-Fi. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day at work, or put the finishing touches on your work. As if the lounge isn’t enough, there’s a pool, firepits, cabanas, and the highest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere.
The L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown may be surrounded by upscale options, but it was designed with the everyday traveler in mind. There’s a fitness and yoga studio to stay fit during your trip and a range in room options from the standard king to suites with views of the city. The hotel is also close to the entertainment district, as well as the convention center.
If you’re concerned that a luxury stay in Los Angeles—with all the food and drinks that come with it—will disrupt your fitness routine, then the Omni is the place for you. The hotel features in-room fitness kits, as well as a pool, spa, and fitness center. Oh, and the convention center is a perfectly walkable 10 blocks away.
Find an on-the-go office that’s you right for you in L.A., whether it’s a coffee shop, coworking space, or library.
Tucked away in a courtyard, Tilt Coffee Bar is a bit hidden, and that’s a good thing for you. It has free Wi-Fi, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, with the establishment even providing blankets so you can set up on grassy areas.
One of the most popular coffee joints in Los Angeles has room for laptops and notebooks. The eight locations, including DTLA, have plenty of outlets and seating galore. The combination of caffeinated beverages and Wi-Fi makes Philz Coffee an ideal spot for drive-by business folks.
You’ll feel like someone with eyes for Hollywood when you set up at the Hatchery. The coworking space is designed for writers, and has all the amenities you’d expect: a variety of work areas, free coffee, and tea. You can schedule a free trial here, or grab a day pass for $35 if you’re visiting again.
You pay for the location here. A $49 day pass gets you access to Serendipity Labs, a downtown coworking space close to all the action. Huge windows provide spectacular views, with complimentary coffee.
Public libraries are perhaps the most underrated places to work during a business trip. For one, they’re quiet, with easy accessibility. They also tend to feature unique architecture in an academic setting. Beyond those amenities, the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library system is adjacent to a public park, so you can relax inside and outside the building.
You’ll have no trouble unwinding from work or entertaining a client with a drink or small bite from one of these five Los Angeles happy hours.
Head to Barcito for Apertivo Hour, which runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and all-day Monday, for a money deal. There’s an $8 flat fee for drinks, with each coming with a “free snack trio.” Get additional “snacks,” like a Brazilian Chicken Wing ($1), Fried Chicken Slider ($3), and Provoleta Bite ($2 each).
An understated cocktail and sports bar, the Brack Shop Tavern is a short trip (well, no trip is a short trip in L.A.) from the downtown area. The happy hour (all-night Monday and 3 p.m to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday) features cocktails starting at $7, $5 beers, and $9 glasses of wine.
You’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into a speakeasy from a distant age at The Queensberry, a dark basement in DTLA lined with whiskey bottles. Happy hour runs from 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, with generous pricing: $5 beers, $10 wines, and $3 off signature cocktails.
Prime Pizza is for East Coasters seeking a taste of home. During happy hour, wash down your $2 slice with a $3 Budweiser, or splurge for a $12 pitcher.
Who can say no to a Super Nacho Hour? You’ll find one at Bar Ama every day of the week (with times varying). In addition to a mouth-watering selection of nachos (super nachos and vegan super nachos), score $8 drinks, $5 Negro Modelos, and a variety of Tex-Mex favorites, like corn quesadillas, queso fundido, and taquitos.
Los Angeles’s range of flavors and mix of culture make it a foodie’s dreamland. Try out one of these seven restaurants:
One of Los Angeles’s best qualities, if not its best quality, is its blend of cultures. Ceviche Project is a great example: a restaurant that dishes out fresh seafood, with Mexican flavors. It’s located in the Franklin Hills neighborhood of L.A., some six miles from downtown, but you’re tastebuds will thank you for the drive.
You kind of have to grab In-N-Out, right? Pictured above, the famous burger chain is ubiquitous in Southern California, so don’t even fight the temptation. You won’t win. Instead, request your meal “Animal Style,” and make a note to get an extra workout in on the road (see below!).
Save your appetite (and money) for a trip to L.A.’s famous Grand Central Market. Try one of the old stalwarts like China Cafe or Tumbras A Tomas, or venture to one of the more trendy spots that run the gamut of modern cuisines. The market is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you have no excuse not to go.
Guests at the InterContinental will surely be aware of La Boucherie, a world-class steakhouse in the sky. The restaurant is open to the public, and it’s worth splurging for those 70th-floor views of L.A. in all its glory.
Picking the best taco in Los Angeles is sort of like choosing your favorite Beatles song: There are likely a dozen or more contenders for the top spot. With that being said, Mariscos Jalisco offers a unique take on the taco. The little food truck, camped on Olympic Boulevard in Boyle Heights, deep fries its shells and fills them with shrimp, salsa, and fresh avocado.
Restaurants with the simplest names often serve up the tastiest foods—there’s just no need to mess around. Monty’s Good Burger specializes in vegetarian and vegan burgers with Impossible patties at the center. Animal lovers will be glad to find the restaurant hosts dog & cat adoption drives every month as well.
Author, food critic, and celebrity chef David Chang opened Majordomo to deliver a variety of flavors that fit the city it calls home. The Chinatown restaurant serves up comfort food favorites, with an Asian flare.
A day pass to Venice’s famous, outdoor Muscle Beach Gym costs just $10 if you want to get your swole on in public. Otherwise, consider one of these options for a solid only-in-L.A. workout.
Runners of all ages and abilities are welcome to join the DTLA Running Group, which plans evening routes through Downtown Los Angeles. Check out its Facebook page for the latest information, and don’t worry if your mile times have been lagging. You’ll fit in just fine.
Find serenity in the heart of Los Angeles at Yoga Circle Downtown, a yoga studio that caters to hard-working professionals by hosting morning, lunch, and evening classes. Your first class will cost you $20, but the studio offers a pay-what-you-can policy.
L.A. may just be America’s best hiking city. The geography—an ocean, mountains, low hills, and a metropolis to boot—makes for picturesque views. Runyon Canyon attracts most tourists, but there are plenty of other trails to choose from for business travelers with a few hours to spare. Try the Solstice Canyon Loop in Malibu (which passes through an abandoned mansion) or the Grotto Trail, a path fit with natural wonders like caves and waterfalls.
Get a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and some exercise in while you’re at it. Griffith Park features a number of great running trails, with the one running from Griffith Observatory to Mount Hollywood the pick of the bunch. It’s a gradual climb with a killer view as a payoff.
Brave business travelers could try their hand at surfing. Less adventurous types, though, will appreciate the more leisurely activity of paddle boarding. Paddle Method offers lessons for beginners at Marina Beach, some 20 miles from Downtown Los Angeles.
With all the advancements in exercise, both in terms of gym amenities and types, it’s sometimes nice to return to an old, reliable spot. The Ketchum-Downtown YMCA has everything you would want for working out, with a convenient location and flexible hours (5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
The possibilities for a good bleisure excursion are endless in the Entertainment Capital of the World. This sample itinerary takes you to some familiar sites at a manageable pace.
There’s something charming about the Original Pantry Cafe. The diner is 24/7, appropriate for a city that lives at all hours of the day. And yet, the comfort food and traditional decor place you in Anytown, USA. That balance makes it a great place to start your morning.
Of all the places you can venture to in Tinseltown, the Getty Center promises the best mix of L.A. glitz and worldly education. The site is part museum, part park, with opportunities to explore. It’s also free.
After a short drive (around 25 minutes) from the Getty Center, set up shop at La Isla Bonita, the kind of taco place you’d expect in Venice. Once you’ve had your fill, rent a scooter, and explore Venice Beach in all its glory.
This DTLA hotspot is known for its views. Settle in for dinner downstairs before heading up to the rooftop bar for a cocktail or two.
There’s always something going on at L.A. Live. Beyond the Staples Center—home to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kings, Lakers, and Sparks—the entertainment area hosts coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, all of which can help you put the right bow on your Los Angeles business trip.