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How Los Angeles Has Changed (in a Good Way)

Sun, sand, sightings of celebrities in their natural habitats: Tourists have long descended on Los Angeles for some combination of the above. If you’re keen on that cocktail, rest assured, it remains on offer — wrest your way into a coastal hot spot like Nobu Malibu or Giorgio Baldi and you can indulge with abandon.

But Los Angeles has more to offer than the obvious. New, genre-bending restaurants and bars have cemented the city’s status as a culinary capital of the world. Stages, outdoors and in, are booked with acts, big and rising. Museums, including the long-delayed, $484 million homage to Hollywood, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, are courting crowds. Travelers are coming in droves.

“Los Angeles’s comeback story is well underway,” said Adam Burke, the president and chief executive officer of the city’s tourism board, adding that Los Angeles is projected to see more than 46 million visitors this year, close to 2019’s record high of 50.7 million tourists. “We’re optimistic that we’ll see full recovery in Los Angeles by the end of 2023,” Mr. Burke said.

While California lifted almost all Covid mask regulations in February, Los Angeles officials still require masks on public transit and transportation hubs, including airports, buses and ride shares. (On a late April morning, about half of the travelers at Los Angeles International Airport appeared to be wearing masks. “It’s not really being enforced,” a check-in agent said.)

Kinkan, above and below, is an omakase restaurant that opened in the last two years, at first offering takeout boxes of fish that shimmered like jewels.Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times
Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times
Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

Restaurants and bars

If Los Angeles wasn’t the nation’s pre-eminent city for sushi before, it is now. Sushi Tama, Morihiro and Kinkan are some of the high-end slingers of omakase, chef-curated tasting menus, that opened during the pandemic and won fans over with takeout boxes of fish that shimmer like jewels. Now, you can book seats at their respective sushi bars, but plan in advance: Seats at Kinkan’s counter, where dine-in meals range from $125 to $250 per person, can be particularly hard to come by.

The Black Lives Matter movement brought renewed attention to Los Angeles’s Black-owned businesses, especially restaurants. Critics are raving over Berbere, an Ethiopian-inspired vegan restaurant that opened in Santa Monica in 2021 (most dishes are under $20), and you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful latte than the one served at Bloom & Plume, a coffee shop and cafe that the celebrity florist Maurice Harris opened next to his east side flower shop just before the pandemic (espresso drinks start at $3.50). Several websites offer guides to the best Black-owned restaurants in the city; Thrillist’s is particularly robust.

Berbere, an Ethiopian-inspired vegan restaurant, opened in Santa Monica in 2021. Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

Low-carb clichés be damned, pizza is having a moment. Pie after pie flies out of the open kitchen of Mother Wolf, Hollywood’s buzziest new restaurant — fans include Rihanna and Michelle Obama — which occupies a gilded Art Deco landmark, the Citizen-News building. (Overheard at the bar: “If you squint, it’s almost like you’re in New York.”) Downtown, De La Nonna serves grandma-style pies ($16 and up)and crisp Negronis. In Echo Park, on the city’s east side, Grá makes an argument for pizza as health food, with its organic sourdough base, “seasonal ferments” (kimchi, pickled cucumber salads) and natural wine, which, incidentally, has inspired so many new bars, you could be forgiven for thinking someone had stumbled on an underground supply.

In Silver Lake, Melody, which opened in 2017 and was revamped during the pandemic, Voodoo Vin and La Pharmacie Du Vin all sit within a mile of each other. The neighborhood caters to cocktail connoisseurs, too, with Bolita, a Cuban-inspired cocktail bar that opened in February, and De Buena Planta, a Tulum-inspired patio, opened in March, that specializes in tequila and mezcal.Non-drinkers, know that no-A.B.V. (alcohol by volume) elixirs abound all over the city: Bolita, for instance, serves several spritzes ($8 and up)that won’t leave you with a hangover.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened in September, with six floors of movie memorabilia. Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

Museums and live events

Los Angeles’s major museums are open again: starting May 21, the Broad will showcase a new collection of works from Takashi Murakami as well as a series of art around the theme of the American flag. Many of the city’s museums, including the Broad, the Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in September and features six floors of movie-industry memorabilia, require advance reservations and have their own masking and vaccination protocols. It’s best to check their websites before visiting.

This month, the Broad Museum showcases a new collection of works from Takashi Murakami as well as a series of art around the theme of the American flag. Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

There is no shortage of events uniting aficionados of various stripes. The Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles’s prime outdoor performance venues, have returned with a full slate of concerts. Foodies will break bread on May 21 and 22 at EEEEEATSCON LA (yes, that’s really how it’s spelled), a May food festival hosted by the restaurant review website the Infatuation (tickets from $10); baseball fans will convene at Dodger Stadium for the M.L.B. All-Star Game on July 19; just south of Los Angeles, jazz enthusiasts will come together for the Newport Beach Jazz Festival in June. Rockers rejoice: Pasadena’s This Ain’t No Picnic brings together dozens of rock bands in August, including The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem.

Sports fans, take note: With the addition of Angel City Football Club in the National Women’s Soccer League, Los Angeles now has 11 professional sports teams — the most of any city in the country. N.F.L. fans have been flocking to Inglewood’s newly opened SoFi Stadium, where would-be quarterbacks can take a guided tour and test their skills on the field where the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl in February.

In the same complex as SoFi Stadium, the new YouTube Theater features a robust lineup of Latinx artists this summer and fall, including Rosalia, Gloria Trevi and Sebastian Yatra.

Travel Trends That Will Define 2022


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Looking ahead. As governments across the world loosen coronavirus restrictions, the travel industry hopes this will be the year that travel comes roaring back. Here is what to expect:

Air travel. Many more passengers are expected to fly compared to last year, but you’ll still need to check the latest entry requirements if you’re traveling abroad.

Lodging. During the pandemic, many travelers discovered the privacy offered by rental residences. Hotels hope to compete again by offering stylish extended-stay properties, sustainable options, rooftop bars and co-working spaces.

Rental cars. Travelers can expect higher prices, and older cars with high mileage, since companies still haven’t been able to expand their fleets. Seeking an alternative? Car-sharing platforms might be a more affordable option.

Cruises. Despite a bumpy start to the year, thanks to Omicron’s surge, demand for cruises remains high. Luxury expedition voyages are particularly appealing right now, because they typically sail on smaller ships and steer away from crowded destinations.

Destinations. Cities are officially back: Travelers are eager to dive into the sights, bites and sounds of a metropolis like Paris or New York. For a more relaxing time, some resorts in the U.S. are pioneering an almost all-inclusive model that takes the guesswork out of planning a vacation.

Experiences. Travel options centered around sexual wellness (think couples retreats and beachfront sessions with intimacy coaches) are growing popular. Trips with an educational bent, meanwhile, are increasingly sought after by families with children.

For decades, Los Angeles’s Pride Festival & Parade has been one of the largest L.G.B.T.Q. Pride events in the world, and it’ll be back in full force the weekend of June 11. Old attractions have been updated: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour has reopened with a state-of-the-art welcome center, and Universal Studios Hollywood has added a “Secret Life of Pets” ride.

The interior of the Proper Hotel has an Art Deco-meets-modern-day globe-trotter aesthetic.Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times
The hotel was designed by Kelly Wearstler.Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

High-design hotels

Los Angeles added 2,100 new hotel rooms in 2021, and there’s a home away from home for every type of traveler. Downtown, the Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Hotel (1100 South Broadway, rooms from $349) has become a destination for locals and out-of-towners alike with its Art Deco-meets-modern-day globe-trotter aesthetic. Pendry West Hollywood (8430 Sunset Boulevard, rooms from $525) brings a dose of maximalism to the Sunset Strip, with sumptuous rooms designed by Martin Brudnizki, a rooftop restaurant helmed by Wolfgang Puck, and a happening pool scene.

Pendry West Hollywood brings a dose of maximalism to the Sunset Strip. Credit…Tanveer Badal for The New York Times

The Maybourne Beverly Hills(225 North Canon Drive, rooms from $1,095) is bringing a bit of Britain far west of the pond; its high tearoom, helmed by its sister hotel, Claridges, will debut later this year. For Y.O.L.O. adherents with money to burn, the Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Boulevard, rooms from $735), which turns 110 this year, is offering its signature McCarthy Salad for $1,912 — besides lettuce, it comes with gold flakes, lobster, caviar, a bottle of Dom Pérignon and an inflated sense of superiority that comes with ordering a salad that costs more than the average monthly home mortgage.

Losses and incarnations

While the iconic Cinerama theater in Hollywood closed in 2021, it’s reportedly slated to reopen this year under new management. Some beloved restaurants have had a similar fate: Ray Garcia, the chef of Broken Spanish, which shuttered in 2020, can now be found at Asterid, a new restaurant at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Bon Temps, a critically acclaimed French restaurant in downtown’s arts district, closed in 2020 but has an incarnation in the chef Lincoln Carson’s new Hollywood eatery, Mes Amis, opening this spring.


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