We always take them to Jar. If you’re gonna have a nice grown up dinner with your parents and look like an adult in their eyes, it’s perfect. You can have a conversation and the lighting is very nice and the food is simple and really good. It’s like a modern take on a classic Hollywood restaurant.
We had been wanting to take them to the Magic Castle because it’s this mysterious thing you can only do when you know somebody. We put them up at the Magic Castle Hotel and got four passes. We had dinner and drinks and saw close up magic and a big show in their main theater. It’s offbeat and definitely not something they’re going to do where they’re from.
We’re Eastsiders so we take them to our neighborhood hang. It’s always good for spotting a celebrity or three. It’s a very low-key place that famous people frequent. It has an East coast sensibility and a chef from New Orleans. We saw Katherine Heigl and Adam Scott in there and my mom was like “That’s the guy from Party Down.”
This is a wine bar and sort of a grown up place to go. It’s not a dive, but it’s a very comfortable place to bring out-of-towners. Since we’re in California, taking them to wine spots is a very appropriate way to get alcohol involved.
The ArcLight Cinemas blows people away since there is nothing like that outside of Los Angeles. The special seats and the service and people are always impressive. It feels right for the movie capital to have this wonderful movie theater. Out-of-towners can’t believe how much the tickets cost, but when they get inside they’re always impressed.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The last time my parents were here I took both sets of them to the Huntington Gardens. They have a desert area and a Japanese garden with bamboo that blew everyone away. We had dim sum and tea in the Chinese garden. I tried the formal afternoon tea with my mom but it was totally not worth the money. The Chinese garden is so much better, less expensive and less fussy.
It’s so huge and I love all the crazy stuff there and the art gallery in the back. That odd combination is always interesting to people. You can get a year’s supply of Taschen books and skull figurines and voodoo kits.
Largo at the Coronet
I usually take them to the Paul F. Tompkins show at Largo and since the family are all big fans of Paul, it’s always a hit. Sometimes we go to the Roger Room next door. It’s a tiny bar that makes artisinal drinks. It’s got a red velvety art deco-y feeling and you go there and splurge on a $14 drink, then get 2 hours of comedy and awesome music. There’s usually a musical guest and a celebrity drops in variety-show style.
I take my parents on hikes up Fern Dell into Griffith Park. You can get some exercise, you get an amazing view at the top, and the Observatory is the symbol of Los Angeles. If you go after noon you can eat at their cafe. Mom thought the hike was challenging because it’s uphill for thirty minutes, but we make her work. You either finish the hike or you will be abandoned.
The Getty Center
The Getty is a must for visitors. I think the experience of visiting the Getty is about the architecture and the views more than the exhibits. We had wine and looked at the gardens. That can be the main event.
Musso & Frank Grill
I took my dad and he had a martini and we shared a crab salad. We sat at the counter by the grill. He thought it was very cool and Old Hollywood. He got a sidecar with his martini, and everyone loves getting that little extra.
Photographs courtesy (in order): rebeccasanabria.com, thejar.com, magiccastle.com, littledoms.com, barcovell.com, arclightcinemas.com, huntington.org, soapplant.com, largo-la.com, laparks.org, getty.edu, mussoandfrankgrill.com