World-class museums mix with historic charms in this exclusive L.A. neighborhood.
With exclusive foothill real estate, proximity to ocean breezes, and a small-town-meets-Tinseltown vibe, Brentwood is a neighborhood that epitomizes the Los Angeles good life. Plenty of the most famous names in “the industry” call it home, so the shops, salons, and restaurants in the Brentwood Village area (Barrington Avenue at Sunset Boulevard) and along the main drag San Vicente Boulevard are fittingly upscale. The arrival of world-class museums in its foothills in the 1990’s certainly raised Brentwood's international profile. But there's a quaintness that remains, as evidenced in its family-oriented country mart and the reverence for its historic coral trees that line San Vicente Boulevard all the way to Santa Monica.
The Getty Center
Since L.A. lacks the piazzas and promenades of other major cities, the Getty Center is more than just a museum. Occupying an isolated, hillside perch, the giant multi-terraced art complex has become one of L.A.’s great urban spaces, where visitors can stroll and admire views over the city. Inside the billion-dollar, Richard Meier-designed creamy travertine museum is a collection of awesome breadth, displayed in galleries with generous natural lighting. From van Gogh’s Irises (purchased for an undisclosed price estimated to be well over $50 million) to a dazzling collection of French furniture from the reigns of Louis IV-XVI, there is one remarkable exhibit after another. If you have time, head over to the Getty’s Malibu location, the Getty Villa, which has a stunning collection of ancient Grecian, Roman, and Etrurian art, as well as a beautiful Roman-inspired garden.
Suzanne Goin’s breezy 2010-opened restaurant-café-food shop in Brentwood is precisely the sort of place where unadventurous diners order salads as a main course. They don’t deserve one this good: a platter of sweet Dungeness crab, poached shrimp, avocado, and bright-green leaves of market-fresh Little Gem—a crisper, nuttier butter lettuce—with a dressing redolent of tarragon, anchovy, and chive. The virtuous never had it so good.
Skirball Cultural Center
This vibrant museum and cultural center uses the history of the Jewish experience as a starting point to tell larger stories about multiculturalism in America and the progress of democratic ideals throughout the world. In addition to permanent and rotating exhibitions, it also hosts expertly curated world music, theater, comedy, film, and literary programs. Families with kids will especially love the interactive Noah’s Ark model filled with whimsical animals.
Brentwood Country Mart
A recent, next-door edition to Toscana (a celeb-beloved trattoria and neighborhood institution), Bar Toscana is a sleek, Milan-inspired lounge specializing in Italian cocktails and stuzzichini (small plates). Highlights include bites like the stuzzichino toscano—burrata cheese, roasted spicy pepperoni, and tomato jam with Italian toast—and seasonal, aromatic sips like the Brentwood’s Garden—fennel-infused vodka, celery bitters, and artichoke liqueur. Though the vibe is younger and more relaxed than in Toscana’s main dining room, the bar still draws a beautiful crowd who comes as a prelude to a glamorous night out or as an end in itself.
Coral Tree Cafe
This casual, organic cafe is the de facto community kitchen of Brentwood. Locals turn out in droves—especially at weekend brunch—for morning goodies like the egg dishes and stuffed French toast or afternoon fare like the enormous salads and Paninis. Though the emphasis is on health-conscious ingredients (antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and lots of fresh produce), the lush cakes and foamy tea lattes allow for more than enough decadence.
Running is practically a religion in Brentwood, where the coral-tree-lined center divider of San Vicente Boulevard doubles as a running path. The fleet-footed will find all manner of on-trend, performance running shoes here and über-knowledgeable staff to help them make the perfect selection. There are plenty of cool sneaks for non-runners, too, as well as functional, fashionable activewear for yogis, hikers, and more in the adjacent FrontRunners Clothing store.