The MSNBC anchor is based in NYC now, but tells T+L she’ll always be an L.A. woman.
“I’m a native Los Angeles girl, from hancock park, and I fulfill all the stereotypes—except for the blond bimbo one. I live in New York, but I need a California fix every chance I get. It’s not uncommon for me to hop on a plane after I finish my show in New York and arrive in L.A. on a Sunday night. I always get a window seat so I can watch the landscape as we come in. I love seeing the Hollywood sign from the air, because I can usually locate my parents’ house from there. Whenever I arrive to those swaying palm trees, that sweet scent in the air—it’s like a shot of B12. It’s as if no time has passed.
“My favorite spot is the waterfront area in Santa Monica by Shutters on the Beach. To get there I take a drive along the Santa Monica Freeway to the place where it connects with the Pacific Coast Highway. You go through this small tunnel, and then suddenly, when you emerge, you’re met with the coastline stretching north. It’s my California Zen moment.”
Alex Witt can be seen on MSNBC on weekend mornings and several times during the week; check msnbc.com for schedules.
“I love the poolside cabanas at Shutters on the Beach (1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 800/334-9000; shuttersonthebeach.com; doubles from $545).”
“Capo (1810 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; 310/394-5550; dinner for two $156) is delicious Italian, near Shutters. My favorite dish is a salmon special, grilled with lemon and capers.”
“I always get an ice-blended mocha and a jalapeño bagel from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (various locations; 800/832-5323; coffeebean.com) in Larchmont Village.”
“Lucy’s El Adobe Café (5536 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; 323/462-9421; dinner for two $40) is a Hollywood watering hole with great margaritas and tostadas.”
“Whenever I’m in town I try to make a visit to the Getty Museum (1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles; 310/440-7300; getty.edu; free admission, parking $15). There’s nothing better than seeing the art in a setting overlooking the Los Angeles Basin.”
“The Griffith Observatory (2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles; 213/473-0800; griffithobs.org) is lit up at night, just a couple of canyons away from the Hollywood sign.”
Shutters on the Beach
This sprawling beach-house-style inn looks like it was airlifted from Nantucket and dropped on the Santa Monica shore. Inside, the common areas (like the fireside lounge with chairs and sofas upholstered in seashell colors) and the 198 rooms (all with subtle blue and yellow accents, four-poster beds, walnut furniture, and custom linens) reinforce the laid-back, summer-house vibe. But there’s real luxury here, too: The on-site spa offers organic body treatments by Red Flower and facials by Omorovicza, and the nautically themed One Pico restaurant serves exceptional seafood dishes that reflect the oceanside vibes and coastal California produce.
Bruce Marder’s flagship Italian restaurant has been by the Santa Monica beach since 1999. The space includes a brick front, vaulted wood ceiling, wood plank flooring and art-lined walls amidst banquette, stand-alone, and bar seating. Capo focuses on fine-dining, at luxury prices. Marder makes pastas in-house, accenting white corn ravioli with black truffles. Risotto is available with premium ingredients like Persian saffron, Dungeness crab, or lobster. Seafood plays a minor role alongside Capo's meats cooked in a wood-burning oven, such as the Prime Porterhouse. The wine list runs more than 1,200 bottles deep, primarily pulling from France, Italy, and California.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
This L.A. born coffee chain arose in 1963 and now competes with bigger chains in California. This longtime location in family-friendly Larchmont Village has limited space indoors. Orders are taken at the counter with a wall mounted menu nearby, and the patio is a popular spot for those looking to read while drinking their coffee. Brewed coffee and espresso drinks are a favorite, as are teas and lattes, but the chain is best known for its ice-blended drinks. The caffeinated shakes come in flavors like mocha, vanilla, caramel, and Black Forest, which blends chocolate powder, cherries, and chocolate covered espresso beans.
Lucy’s El Adobe Café
Located just across from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Lucy’s El Adobe Café has its industry connections on conspicuous display: an entire wall features photos of celebrities who’ve dined there, from Jack Nicholson to George McGovern to Connie Chung. A long-standing celebrity favorite, this East Melrose joint serves up classic Mexican dishes, most of which owner Lucy Casado learned from her mother. Popular menu items include enchiladas verdes and chili relleno, and unsurprisingly, the margaritas are a favorite drink choice. There is also a patio out back.
This fine art museum is located within the expansive Getty Center complex, accessed via a scenic tram ride up to its hillside location in the Malibu foothills. The Getty Museum consists of five two-story pavilions set around an open courtyard. Its permanent collection spans the visual arts, including everything from European paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures to illuminated manuscripts, even decorative arts. Van Gogh, Monet, and Cezanne are just a few of the notable artists on display. Ongoing exhibitions highlight both visiting works and items from the permanent collection.