If you would’ve told me four years ago that I would come to believe in the metaphysical properties of rose quartz and amethyst and burn “magic candles” to set intentions about work life and relationships, I might have laughed in your face. But that was before I moved to Los Angeles and set out on an unexpected self-care pilgrimage.
Back then, the word “self-care” was barely a blip on my radar. The thought of prioritizing self-care felt self-indulgent, if not outright selfish. At the time, I was living in New York and felt “meh” about my job. I was burned out from city life and adrift when it came to figuring out my future. The only thing I could manage to plan was a vacation to Los Angeles, my first trip to California.
I expected to barhop through trendy neighborhoods with friends I hadn’t seen since college, but instead I found myself hiking the Santa Monica Mountains, reading books while laying out at Venice Beach, and wandering in and out of shops that sold Palo Santo sticks and jars of holy water. Not only did I feel good physically and mentally, it was one of the first times in my adult life that I had put my needs first. I wasn’t worried about the work emails piling up or the parties I was missing back in NYC; this was about me taking care of myself, and I didn’t want that feeling to end. A couple of years later, I made the move to Los Angeles and began to incorporate self-care practices into my routine.
So whether you’re in town for a beach vacation or a city experience, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Here are a few of my favorite places to practice self-care in Los Angeles.
Manhattan Beach Pier
I recommend Manhattan Beach to all newcomers looking for that quintessential LA beach community without the crowds of Santa Monica or the drive up to Malibu. Manhattan Beach is only 5.5 miles from LAX, which means there’s no excuse not to visit, even if it’s for an hour before hopping on your flight out. The Manhattan Beach Pier is the perfect starting point, overlooking surfers riding waves, volleyball players practicing on the sand, and runners jogging along the trails near the coast. Bring a book, pack a lunch (or pick one up at nearby Lemonade), and get ready to bliss out.
West Observatory Trail: Fern Dell Drive
Griffith Park is massive, covering 4,511 acres of land with a 70-mile network of trails, fire roads, and bridle paths. But no worries, the West Observatory Trail leading to the Griffith Park Observatory is beginner friendly, offering a moderate workout that doesn’t leave you winded and stellar views of the Hollywood Sign and Downtown Los Angeles when you reach the top. Expect the hike to be about an hour round-trip, which means you have the whole day to explore the neighboring areas, including Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and East Hollywood. If you’re in the mood for breakfast or brunch, check out Home Restaurant and try the chilaquiles. Looking for a lighter meal or snack? Head to Kismet, a Middle Eastern- and California-inspired restaurant owned by two women chefs, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson.
House of Intuition
Locations in Highland Park, Silver Lake, and West Hollywood
If you’ve ever been curious about tarot readings, Reiki healings, or just want to know how to attract good vibes in your life, make a stop at House of Intuition. I buy healing crystals here and get my tarot cards read (available only at their Silver Lake location). House of Intuition isn’t your run-of-the-mill “psychic” shop in a strip mall. This place is legit. Within a few minutes of meeting my tarot card reader, she knew the field of work I was in and my key personality traits, and described future events I’d be involved in that inevitably came true. The reading was deep; however, the most prolific purchase I’ve made at the shop is my “Self-Love” magic candle. Each morning I light it and set an intention for the day and myself. It’s a moment for me to express gratitude for what I have and to define the things I hope to attract in my life. Powerful stuff. If you’re on the east side of town (perhaps hiking Griffith Park?), make House of Intuition a non-negotiable stop, either for a reading or to bring home a couple of souvenirs.
One Down Dog
Locations in Eagle Rock and Silver Lake
Yoga studios in Los Angeles are a dime a dozen, with most people choosing the spots that are closest to work or home. I live 13 miles from the nearest One Down Dog location (practically in another time zone by LA standards), and I go because of the community the studio has fostered, the price (there’s a $5 student teacher–led class every Sunday, Saturday, and Wednesday, depending on the location), and the yoga practice they teach. If you need to stretch after a day of sightseeing or just need to take a moment to catch your breath, head to One Down Dog and take your pick from a variety of classes for all skill levels.
Locations in Santa Monica, Silver Lake, Studio City, and West Hollywood
Treating yourself to physical pampering isn’t selfish. I enjoy massages, and when I get them, I go to The Now, an aesthetically pleasing massage studio (read: Instagram pic worthy) with therapists who do their job and do it well. Prices begin at $35 for a 25-minute massage, with $10 add-ons for aromatherapy and deep tissue. The Now is more expensive than your hole-in-the-wall massage studio—the desert-chic interior can’t be cheap to maintain—but it’s more affordable (and inviting) than a hotel spa.