30th Birthday Ideas in Los Angeles: How to Spend It Well

Congratulations: you’ve chosen the most glamorous city in the US for a birthday trip. Now what?

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It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit Los Angeles: you’re going to get sunshine. Three hundred days of sunshine a year, they say. Unless you’re inexplicably a big fan of drizzle, this makes LA an excellent choice of destination for a 30th birthday.

Here’s the thing about this town: it’s in Southern California, and Southern California is insanely beautiful. (Even we hard to please folk at Plum Guide can't deny it.) It’s got mountains, forests, beaches and deserts as well as some pretty spectacular cities. But Los Angeles, quite unfairly, can get a bad rap. Too much traffic; too much smog; too much plastic surgery. Yes, some of this is true (sorry, LA). But this metropolis is a series of towns that happen to be joined together – if you don’t like where you are, there’s sure to be somewhere you do like just around the corner. If you can face the traffic…

Head to Malibu for stretches of golden sand. Make your way to Koreatown for parties and quirky spas. You’ll find street art and galleries in the Arts District, excellent Mexican food in East LA, and glamour in Beverly Hills. And that’s barely scratching the surface. The place is so big and diverse, that for your birthday trip you’re going to need a few ideas. Fortunately for you, we’ve got some for you…

Malibu, California

Eat these

A 30th birthday is a big one, so if you don’t fancy taking your chances with a no-reservation joint, choose your restaurant wisely and book ahead. If you’re looking for a venue that’s high-end but relaxed, make your way to the Fashion District in Downtown LA where you’ll find Rossoblu. Opened to great fanfare in 2017, this Italian restaurant has helped transform the previously rundown area into a cool dining and partying destination. Inside, it’s the epitome of industrial chic – look out for the gold-topped bar, a floor-to-ceiling mural and an open kitchen. The food here takes its cues from the traditional recipes of Bologna, and many are perfect for sharing. Try dishes such as roasted beef short rib; wild cherrystone clams; or pappardelle with duck ragu and pistachio. Elsewhere, over in Venice Beach, Gjelina is a favourite of Angelenos – despite the notorious long waits for a table. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. This is an LA icon for a reason: Gjelina serves rustic, farm-to-table pizzas, pasta and salads, plus a sturdy selection of oozing cheeses, on arguably the coolest street in the area. Alternatively, over in Beverly Hills, nab a table at Matsuhisa, the original restaurant to be founded by Nobu Matsuhisa. Obviously you have to have the legendary black cod (we’re sure there’s some sort of law about this).

Drink this

Any set of 30th birthday ideas in Los Angeles, naturally, call for some drinks – preferably some very good, very chilled drinks. Of course, there are classic LA venues such as the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Drinking a Bellini on a patio festooned with bougainvilleas while listening to soft music is sure to make you feel like a movie star. However, you could follow the locals’ lead and seek out a neighbourhood bar. The Friend in Silverlake ticks that box – think cotton-candy pink exterior and disco-balled, art-strewn interior, plus a short-but-sweet cocktail menu. Or over in Koreatown in Downtown LA, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Normandie Club, where you can book a banquette for larger groups and work your way through its “inspired by the classics” cocktail menu, including an Old Fashioned made with coconut bourbon. Happy, happy birthday.

Explore these

As fun as it is, you probably don’t just want to experience Los Angeles from inside restaurants and bars. It’s sunny out there, after all. That’s why we’re going to nudge you towards a short hike that will ensure you appreciate the beautiful light in this city, best enjoyed when it’s fading into night. Follow the two-mile trail to the art deco Griffith Park Observatory on Mount Hollywood before sundown – this is where you can see the Hollywood sign as well as panoramic views across Los Angeles, just as the sun sets. (There’s a planetarium there, too.) And, no, we haven’t forgotten the beaches within our list of 30th birthday ideas in London. Set your sat-nav for Malibu and look for a quiet cove on the length of coast that falls east of the Tuna Canyon Road. Every one of these south-facing stretches of sand is a beauty. You may even spot dolphins cresting the waves.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles California

Sleep here

Dreaming of a laid-back beach getaway in Santa Monica? A designer pad with views of the Hollywood sign? A sprawling home with a private pool? It’s probably listed with Plum Guide. For a birthday trip (or, let’s be frank, any trip), the last thing you want is for your accommodation to fall short. That’s why every Plum Guide LA property has been personally picked by our experts – and you can concentrate on planning your dream holiday.

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