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This story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Bask in the sunny sounds of SoCal with a late morning visit to The Grammy Museum ($12.95 entry; 800 W. Olympic Blvd.), which opens its doors at 11:30 a.m. The colorful current exhibit 50 Years of the Beach Boys runs through September and features rare family photos, instruments and vintage posters. Now that you’re in the retro spirit, zip across town to the Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis (1200 Alta Loma Road), where iconic images by such noted rock photographers as Ross Halfin and Bob Gruen are on display.
Steps away is the dark and leathered Bar 1200 — where guests like Elton John and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons are known to gather — and the pool, which recently was opened to non-hotel guests (for a $2,000 membership fee). Eat there, or make a reservation just up the Sunset Strip at the Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd.), another rocker hotel where you just might run into Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. “Great atmosphere, unique clientele, there’s no better late-night experience in L.A.,” he says of the $500-a-night landmark.
For those Westsiders who prefer to stay on the beach side of the 405, swap the Sunset crawl for the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.), which is hosting a summer concert series as well as after-dark parties featuring indie acts and sets by KCRW DJs (July 12 and Aug. 30; $20).
Spend your morning at Amoeba Music (opens at 10:30 a.m.; 6400 Sunset Blvd.), the mecca for music connoisseurs and vinyl lovers, with nearly 1 million new and used CDs, records, DVDs and more. Says Incubus and Sons of the Sea singer Brandon Boyd: “Going into Amoeba brings back all kinds of good vibrations — even down to the tattooed, disgruntled record store clerk who you will never impress with your choices in music.” You may have to suffer similar standoffishness at your next shopping destination, the Odd Future store (410 N. Fairfax Ave.), named for the hip-hop collective that first set the industry buzzing in 2011 and spawned R&B darling Frank Ocean. But buying your niece or nephew an officially branded OF shirt — or better yet, a skateboard — instantly will make you the coolest family member ever.
Feeling peckish? Skip across Fairfax for a pastrami sandwich ($12.50) at Canter’s Deli (419 N. Fairfax Ave.), where Guns N’ Roses spent their formative years noshing on Jewish grub. Guitar god Slash had a running tab at the 24/7 institution for decades thanks to his high school friend Marc Canter, now the owner, whose photos of the band’s early days decorate the walls of the 82-year-old fixture. Another always-there food option: “Those street vendors with small grills making hot dogs and bratwurst wrapped in bacon,” offers songwriter and artist Bonnie McKee (Britney Spears‘ “Ooh La La,” Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream”) of the delicacy sometimes called danger dogs. “I have literally driven into Hollywood, rolled down the windows and just followed my nose. You can smell the peppers and onions from miles away.”
And for your nighttime hang, head to The Sayers Club (1645 Wilcox Ave.), where both chart-toppers and bubbling-under bands play to a more intimate crowd of friends and insiders. “Sayers is a special venue,” says Skylar Grey, one such artist who’ll perform there July 2, one week before the release of her Eminem-produced debut album, Don’t Look Down. “It’s more music-centric. And the environment, the decor and the people make it very homey and comfortable.” That “living room experience” is just what curator Jason Scoppa was going for. “The exclamation point comes with the unexpected,” he says. “Shows by Prince, The Black Keys, Gotye. …”
For a more traditional rock experience, a bevy of legendary nightspots still stand strong on Sunset, including The Roxy (9009 W. Sunset Blvd.) and Viper Room (8852 W. Sunset Blvd.), where on any given weekend night you’ll find emerging acts, the occasional tribute band (The Fab Four are on tap for July at the Roxy) or a headliner like Linkin Park, who’ll top the bill at the Sunset Strip Music Festival (sunsetstripmusicfestival.com) on Aug. 3. The band got its start at another strip mainstay, the Whisky a Go Go (8901 W. Sunset Blvd.), one of the clubs that will host rock fans and the industry for the street fair (tickets run from $79 to $250).
Spend your day outdoors taking in live music at perennial favorites like the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave.), Greek Theatre (2700 N. Vermont Ave.) or Pasadena’s Levitt Pavilion (85 E. Holly St.). Weekend headliners at the majestic Bowl include the Brooke Shields-directed Chicago (July 28) and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Aug. 4), while the Greek hosts the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration (Aug. 4). Not down with open air? Head to the W Hollywood (6250 Hollywood Blvd.) for its Sunday Jazz Nights series. “Good food, great atmosphere, I always have an amazing time,” says regular Carly Rae Jepsen. Fair warning: Your evening may not be flutin’-free.
See more perfect summer weekends below:
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