Taking the spotlight at the west end of Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile district, the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures makes now a good time to visit the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard known as Museum Row. Stalwarts like the Petersen Automotive Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum soldier on, while big, albeit controversial, changes are underfoot at the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA). Many of its structures have met the wrecking ball, and by 2024 a new exhibit building, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, will bridge the boulevard. Check out our eight picks on and around Wilshire for an award-winning day.
1. The bright, brick-walled, atrium-like interior of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 office building is home to Republique Café, buzzing with breakfast hounds savoring French-inspired dishes. Try the BLT Benedict, with its crispy bacon, sliced avocado, arugula, and a luscious hollandaise infused with Calabrian chile pepper. The pastry case tempts your sweet tooth with house-baked morning treats, such as crème brûlée doughnut holes.
2. In the gorgeously restored 1939 Streamline Moderne–style former May Company department store, the long-awaited Academy Museum of Motion Pictures celebrates silver-screen history with movie costumes and props (from Shirley Temple’s tap dance shoes to the Jaws shark), video displays, and an interactive Oscars-ceremony experience. The museum’s stunning new spherical theater has a rooftop terrace boasting widescreen-worthy views of the Hollywood Hills. As of press time, timed-entry admission tickets ($25) must be purchased online in advance.
3. From the Academy museum, skip across Fairfax Avenue to Johnie’s Coffee Shop, where Googie architecture aficionados dig the angular roofline and blue-and-white-striped facade of this 1956 space-age classic. Primarily a filming location for numerous flicks, the former restaurant has served as a meeting place for grassroots political activists.
4. Next door to the Academy museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is undergoing a $650 million transformation set to debut by 2024. Meanwhile, LACMA has assembled nearly 200 of its finest modernist works in rotating exhibitions at its Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Resnick Pavilion. Fronting the museum, the photogenic “Urban Light” art installation attracts visitors to its forest of old-timey streetlamps. Adults, $20–$25.
5. A chill bohemian vibe permeates Yuko Kitchen, a leafy, plant-filled Japanese oasis tucked on a side street just off busy Wilshire Boulevard. The vegetarian-friendly eatery offers sushi rolls, salads, udon, rice bowls (try the tasty tempura shrimp), and terrific boba drinks. Eat lunch in the tiny, artsy dining room or at a shaded patio table.
6. An eye-catching Wilshire Boulevard building reminiscent of an 18th-century English dollhouse is home to the Craft Contemporary museum. Before 2019, it was the Craft and Folk Art Museum, but it underwent a rebranding to showcase artists taking traditional craft techniques to new heights. The museum shop is a must for those with artsy friends on their gift list. General admission, $9.
7. Not just for gearheads, the Petersen Automotive Museum houses one of the world’s most revered auto collections. Admire rides ranging from antique Bugattis to supercars like a 1967 Ford GT40 MKIII. A James Bond exhibit showcasing cars from the movie franchise runs through October 22. Timed-entry admission tickets ($17) must be purchased online in advance.
8. If landmark Tom Bergin’s Irish tavern (established in 1936) was good enough for movie-star regulars like Cary Grant, it’s certainly good enough for your supper after a day of cruising the Miracle Mile. Slide into one of the wood-paneled pub’s prehistoric booths, order the crispy fish-and-chips and a frosty pint, and toast the day. (Be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol.)
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.