By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 04 2009 1:00 AM ET
Compact and central, West Hollywood is an L.A. environ easily navigated by foot, where pedestrian exploration yields steady pleasures. Stick to major east-west thoroughfares like Sunset, Santa Monica, and Melrose, and north-south streets like Robertson and San Vicente; all are lined with restaurants and retail.
SUNSET BOULEVARD Sunset comes alive at night, though the roving bridge-and-tunnel (er, freeway?) crowd is a far cry from the sexy rockers who populated the Strip in the '60s. While the tourists nurse hangovers, check out the facade of the 1. Whiskey a Go Go nightclub (8901 W. Sunset Blvd.), a venue better seen than heard. Across the street, pay respects at the 2. Viper Room (8852 W. Sunset Blvd.), the club that hosted River Phoenix's last night. A block east is 3. Book Soup (8818 W. Sunset Blvd.), one of the city's best bookstores.
SANTA MONICA BOULEVARD Trek south to Santa Monica Boulevard, the heart of the gay village, where stylish bars like 4. Eleven (8811 Santa Monica Blvd.) and 5. Saint Felix (8945 Santa Monica Blvd.) ply visitors and locals alike. Moving south on San Vicente Boulevard, you can view the ascent of Cesar Pelli's new Red Building, the final structure in the 6. Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave.), a trilogy of multihued office buildings that house furniture showrooms, a mini art museum, and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
MELROSE AVENUE At the foot of the PDC's Blue Building is Melrose Avenue, one of Los Angeles's prettiest streets. 7. Dr. Tea's Tea Garden and Herbal Emporium (8612 Melrose Ave.) has the best stuff from China, and a sublime backyard zen garden. The nearby 8. Urth Caffé (8565 Melrose Ave.) features quintessential California food, and lunch won't run you more than $15. Heading west toward Beverly Hills, you'll hit Robertson Boulevard. The itinerant paparazzi and their prey operate south of Melrose; this northerly stretch is calmer and more urbane. Boutiques like 9. John Varvatos (8800 Melrose Ave.) and 10. Maxfield (8825 Melrose Ave.) sit near the intersection of Robertson and Melrose.
ROBERTSON BOULEVARD Walking north up Robertson brings you past West Hollywood Park, where there's almost always a shirtless game of pickup basketball going on. Next door is the gothic-themed 11. Abbey (692 N. Robertson Blvd.), arguably the most famous gay bar in the country, and without question the epicenter of gay WeHo, with massive drinks and plentiful eye candy.