Arts & Culture

A 3-Day Music Weekend on the Sunset Strip

Explore rock ‘n’ roll history on West Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip


West Hollywood embodies the heart, soul, and thrill of music like no other city. Music lovers enjoy myriad sounds and scenes to choose from every night.

From audacious and amped-up live sets by local and touring artists to raucous clubs and eateries, you’ll find a hub of hot and historic hangouts on The Sunset Strip. Your head will spin with an abundance of options on the weekends—a great opportunity for a sneaky vacation after your business trip. Your action-packed, aurally-driven adventure awaits; it just takes a little planning, some endurance (disco naps are suggested), and an inspired itinerary like this:

Friday Night Lights

Ready to kick off your weekend? The ultimate in leisurely decadence is found just off the Strip at The London West Hollywood (1020 N. San Vincente Blvd.) The odds of seeing a real-life rock (or movie) star are always good, but it’s really about the memories and ambiance here. Chic cocktail parties, history-making biz lunches, late night room debauchery, La La Land-like backdrops, and the rooftop pool scene contribute to the mystique here. If you’re staying at the London, ask for the Vivienne Westwood suite. She’s the UK fashion designer who basically invented punk fashion—and she designed the hotel’s penthouse!

Get your bearings and learn about the history of the Sunset Strip on a tour with Rock ‘N Walk Tours, led by Jon D’Amico, former rock star musician and Sunset Strip resident for over 25 years. After you learn about the music legends that made history on the Sunset Strip, get ready to experience the scene for yourself. The historic Roxy Theatre (9009 Sunset Blvd.) and the legendary Whisky a Go Go (8901 Sunset Blvd.) tend to showcase their biggest bookings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, as does famed venue The Troubadour (9081 N. Santa Monica Blvd.), not far from the Strip. You almost can’t go wrong no matter who’s playing, and you never know what genre you’ll be introduced to next. Only the best are booked here. In general, the Roxy and the Troubadour feature classic and new bands from everywhere while the Whisky books locals…very loud locals.  Bring earplugs.

Join the colorful post-concert crowd at The Rainbow Bar & Grill (9015 Sunset Blvd.) on Fridays for pizza and stiff drinks. You’ll spy band bunches and their pals in cozy booths and the indoor fireplace. But, check the popular bustling patio with its recent addition: a statue of departed Motorhead singer Lemmy Kilmister, one of the Rainbow’s most famous regulars. Fans who like to pop in include members of Cypress Hill, Guns N’ Roses, and Mötley Crüe.

Consider adding to your own bad boy/bad girl appeal at Shamrock Social Club (9026 Sunset Blvd.), the tattoo parlor, where everyone from David Beckham to Miley Cyrus gets their ink. Book an appointment before you get to town, there’s a waiting list.

Saturday Night Fever

Prepare to pace yourself and get an early start on Saturday, as you’ll be club-hopping and not stopping too often on this groove and grind-filled night. First stop: The Blind Dragon (9201 Sunset Blvd.) for karaoke and Chinese food fusion. Rent a private room or take the stage and share your wail with the world.

Pop in next door to Bootsy Bellows (9229 Sunset Blvd.) for some bumping to hip-hop and EDM hits by top DJs. Don’t be surprised if a real-life big-name rapper takes the stage for an impromptu turn on the mic. It happens a lot!

When it’s time for some serious shaking, head to The Standard, Hollywood (8300 Sunset Blvd.) club room Giorgio’s at Mmhmmm, a Studio 54-style disco inspired by dance music king Giorgio Moroder. Attracting the likes of Prabal Gurung and Lenny Kravitz on any given night, revel in the sounds of DJ Adam 12 (Barack Obama and Prince’s former DJ, and half of the goth band She Wants Revenge). Twelve’s funk, disco, and glam mixes promise to make you and the entire crowd go crazy. The best way to cap the clubbin’ is to book a room in the hotel and extend your pop life on the Strip further amidst the groovy Warholian décor. Or check in next door at The Mondrian (8440 Sunset Blvd.) after a nightcap at the Skybar. In the morning, either locale will offer you an epic pool scene complete with splashy jams to revive you while you take a dip. The perfect climax to your “boogie night” escapade.

Sunday Funday

Lounge by the pool, then get yourself together for more music-inspired meandering! Another hotel off the Strip, The Sunset Marquis (1200 Alta Loma Road) houses recording studios and the Morrison Hotel Art Gallery, one of the city’s best showcases of rock photography, which changes every month.

Try Rock & Reilly’s (8911 Sunset Blvd.) for a liquor and crunch-filled lunch. In the space that used to be Cat Club (owned by members of The Stray Cats) it retains a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to this day with lively ditties on the sound system, an amazing beer selection, and delicious, mostly fried bar grub.

Your wild music lover’s weekend cannot conclude without a visit to the Viper Room (8852 Sunset Blvd.), one of the Strip’s most intimate spots to see emerging and touring bands. Think all-star jams, acoustic soloists, and melody makers doing pop, punk, metal, electro, and everything in between, all with bite befitting the club name.

And finally, the Andaz West Hollywood (8401 Sunset Blvd.) (formerly the Hyatt House which was nicknamed the “Riot House” for all the rock stars who partied there) is a must. So swanky, even if you don’t book a room, you’ll want to visit the bar for a cocktail and reflect on all the music, dancing, and rock ‘n’ roll history you’ve experienced this weekend. West Hollywood’s rhythms, sights, people, and places will leave you inspired.

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