Let Nashville local Mandy Johnson ’10 show you around her city, including where to find the best chocolate chip cookie and perfect concert venue.
Welcome to the home of the stars! My name is Valerie Joy Wilson, and I am a travel journalist, photographer, host and influencer, as well as the founder of TrustedTravelGirl.com — a guide to globetrotting. As a 2013 Clemson grad, I love to show off my class ring on all of my travels around the world. When I’m not traveling, I’m enjoying everything Los Angeles has to offer. Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite spots around the city:
1 BEVERLY HILLS With some of the best eats in L.A., Beverly Hills has more to offer than just Rodeo Drive. For lunch, Wally’s has outdoor seating, a phenomenal wine menu and incredible charcuterie boards. For cocktails, the brand-new Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria is the place to be with a cocktail menu crafted by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and a rooftop bar boasting panoramic views of Beverly Hills.
2 WEST HOLLYWOOD Here is where you’re more likely to bump into some of the stars; it’s not unusual for me to see A-listers while grocery shopping or heading out to lunch. For breakfast, the Griddle is known for having large stacks of pancakes and “secret French toast,” which used to require a secret password for ordering. Now, anyone can order it (no password required), and it’s a fan favorite, so don’t miss it.
3 THAI TOWN Few cities around the world have Thai food that can rival Thailand, but Los Angeles does. In an unassuming strip mall in the middle of Thai Town is Jitlada, one of the best Thai restaurants anywhere in the world.
PRO TIP: Owner Mama Jazz cooks Southern Thai food, which means the dishes are spicy. If you can’t handle the heat, be sure to let your server know.
4 HOLLYWOOD One of the best places to catch a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign is Lake Hollywood Park. It’s the perfect place to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the sunny SoCal weather.
5 MALIBU My favorite spot in Malibu is Paradise Cove, famously featured on the covers of Beach Boys albums. Just above the cove, you can catch a view of the “million-dollar trailer park,” where trailer homes have sold for up to $3.75 million. Stars including Matthew McConaughey and Pamela Anderson have been residents of the park.
Welcome to the nation’s capital! My name is Charlotte Richardson, class of 2016, and I live in Washington, D.C., where I work as a global events planner for the United Nations Foundation. While D.C. is home to some of the most famous monuments and museums, here are my top five recommendations, as a local, for restaurants to try and neighborhoods to explore while touring the district:
This classic D.C. neighborhood is filled with history and old brick houses. I like to spend my Sunday mornings at the Georgetown flea market, then wind my way down Wisconsin Avenue. My favorite lunch spot is Oki Bowl @ Georgetown. A tiny hole-in-the-wall, this local ramen house is equal parts colorful, eclectic and delicious. Other restaurants to try: Martin’s Tavern, Farmers Fishers Bakers and Chaia.
One of my favorite restaurants to frequent is GCDC — D.C.’s only gourmet grilled cheese bar. One block away from the White House and a quick walk from the National Mall, this restaurant serves a vast array of unique grilled cheese sandwiches and is complete with outdoor seating. I recommend the Young American or the French Onion.
The sidewalks are lined with endless restaurants, bars, mom and pop shops, concert venues and apartments, but this neighborhood is also home to one of D.C.’s most iconic venues: the 9:30 Club. The list of big-time bands who have graced the stage there is endless, so be sure to see a show for yourself. PRO TIP: Make a reservation at Le Diplomate in advance of your visit; this is D.C.’s most popular French restaurant and one of my favorite brunch locations.
One of D.C.’s hidden gems, Blagden is an alleyway in the Shaw neighborhood that looks like it’s out of a movie set. Brick pavement and brick buildings give way to dive bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and open-air patios. Favorite spots: Calico has a great custom-built wooden patio, Lost & Found if you like a vintage dive bar, and The Dabney for one of the best meals in the city.
If you’re in Dupont Circle and looking for a place to unwind and grab a cup of coffee, look no further than Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café. Part bookstore, part café, Kramerbooks is my favorite place to browse for new books and escape from the hustle of the city. PRO TIP: Evenings and weekends, they have custom literary cocktails. I recommend The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes.