A Night Out

Where to Go for Prime People-Watching in L.A.

Whether you want to see or be seen, here’s where to do it.

Photo by Eve Z./Yelp

Los Angeles attracts an interesting mix of opposites: private people versus public; under the radar types versus the wildly well-known; hustling versus lounging; low-key versus ostentatious. All of this plus the weather, the film industry, the cultural complexity, the liquor-stained legacy of the Sunset Strip, and the overall vibe means that L.A. attracts its own special collection of the glamorous and the wonderfully weird.

As tourists converge upon our city from all over the world and the locals emerge from their strange and/or gorgeous realities, everywhere is a great place to people-watch. Still, some spots attract a better menagerie than others. Here’s where to go to hone yourahem“cultural anthropology” skills.

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of Alfred Coffee/Facebook

Alfred—West Hollywood
With an enormous selection of hot and iced drinks, full breakfast, baked goods of all dietary requirements, savory vegan delights, and bountiful seating indoor and out, this place always has a line and amazing people-watching. It’s right in the middle of prime luxury shopping, which means here you’ll see influencers of all stripes, the cutest dogs, the most stressed of the industry escapees, and the most fashion. 8509 Melrose Avenue

Chateau Marmont
Old Hollywood pinnacle of celebrity history, equally glamorous and debaucherous. Fortunately, anyone can luxuriate in this site of lore by dining on the lush patio of the upstairs restaurant, lazing a Sunday afternoon away like a starlet on staycation. Two things you must know: It has perfect french fries and a no-photography policy. 8221 Sunset Boulevard

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of Club Tee Gee/Facebook

Club Tee Gee
A neighborhood stalwart dating back to 1946, with a plaque on the exterior that lets you know: This is the Cheers of Atwater Village. Sparkly ceilings, a jukebox, and stiff drinks do the job dive bars are supposed to do—as good as one can do—with a good mix of legendary neighborhood locals and the ultrahip. 3210 Glendale Boulevard

where to people watch in la
Figaro Bistro / Photo by David L./Yelp

Figaro Bistrot
French bohemia meets Los Feliz in what feels like a quaint mini multiplex lifted out of time. There’s the bar, the bakery, the bistro, and the sidewalk café, widely known as a prime place for watching the effortlessly full-on lewks that endlessly saunter past (and sit at) Figaro. 1802 North Vermont Avenue

This Sunset Boulevard location is actually slightly east of the real Sunset Strip of rock-and-roll fame, but it still draws a colorful crowd late into the night, making it the best In-N-Out in L.A. for people-watching. On any given night you can find clubbers dropping in before or after hitting the Hollywood hot spots, rocker types who either don’t know or don’t care that the ’80s are over, and tourists migrating from Hollywood and Highland to see what all the In-N-Out fuss is about. It’s an inspiring microcosm of L.A. weirdness, brought together by the power of burgers and fries. 7009 Sunset Boulevard

La Poubelle
You’re not going to Franklin Village’s French bistro La Poubelle for the food or the service—though both are totally acceptable—you’re really going for the location, the vibes, and the people. One of the last spots for a sit-down experience before hitting the Hollywood Hills, this is a great place to go before or after an Upright Citizens Brigade show—or for watching the beautiful people who inevitably hang out there, too. 5907 Franklin Avenue

Lamill isn’t a mere coffee shop; it’s a beverage boutique. Its posh, designer setting befits a menu that lets you select your single-origin roast and preferred extraction method. Or go with a deluxe espresso treat like the crème brûlée latte or a café con leche. There are ample creative tea options, too, plus an all-day brunch menu means you’ll definitely see some interesting meetings happening on any given day—if you’re not holding one yourself. 1636 Silver Lake Boulevard

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of Nobu Los Angeles/Facebook

Nobu Los Angeles
Swanky West Hollywood outpost of the legendary Japanese fine-dining destination, where celeb sightings are a run-of-the-mill event. Make a reservation in the dining room for an indulgent experience or pop by the bar-lounge for sushi and lychee martinis. 903 La Cienega Boulevard

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of Scopa Italian Roots/Facebook

Scopa Italian Roots
Equally great for cocktails, brunch, dinner, or late-night snacks, Scopa is almost always packed full of Westside’s most tanned and beautiful. The Italian-leaning menu has everything from calamari and meatball subs to rigatoni with meat sauce, courtesy of Antonia Lofaso of Top Chef fame. 2905 Washington Boulevard

Simone Restaurant
Art Deco merges with modern-day style in a perfectly gorgeous dining setting for creative contemporary cuisine. The main bar, Duello, uses Arts District history as cocktail inspiration. And, yes, since the owner is a Hollywood bigwig, you might see a few Marvel movie actors supping here on any given night. 449 South Hewitt Street

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of SUR Restaurant/Facebook

SUR Restaurant and Lounge
Does the phrase Vanderpump Rules mean anything to you? If you answered no, skip it. If your pulse quickened with an enthusiastic yes, then it’s simple: SUR (short for Sexy Unique Restaurant) is a must. Make your reality TV pilgrimage. Get your ridiculous $24 cosmopolitan. Live your best life and post it on Instagram. You only really need to grab a drink in the lounge for the As Seen on TV! experience. 606-614 North Robertson Boulevard

where to people watch in la
Photo by Sean M./Yelp

This legendary Los Angeles music venue has been a hot spot for soon-to-be-hugely-famous musicians from as far back as the folk movement of the 1960s to the metal mania of the 1980s to today. Given its reputation, Troubadour hosts music makers of any stature, including up-and-comers and legendary acts playing uncharacteristically intimate shows. 9081 North Santa Monica Boulevard

The NoMad Lobby
A former Bank of Italy building, the NoMad Hotel’s nouveau-swank refit is an absolute stunner of decorative indulgence combined with the laid-back vibes of California and the aesthetic opulence of a Fellini film. Arches, Art Deco, terrazzo, velvet, columns, sumptuous upholstery, patterns everywhere…all things made to be enjoyed while looking fabulous. While the Giannini Bar is a designated place for stellar cocktails, the ultra-expansive lobby is the spot to lounge, sip, nibble, and see and be seen. 649 South Olive Street

where to people watch in la
Photo courtesy of Freehand Los Angeles/Facebook

Rudolph’s at Freehand
Located in the lobby of the ultra-cool Freehand Hotel downtown, Rudolph’s is like a brass-and-fern bar of the 1970s meets modern hipster elegance. Strewn with low-slung sofas, pillows, and living room knickknacks, this cozy spot is good for clinking herbal cocktails at night or well-selected teas in glass pots during the day—or vice versa. 416 West 8th Street