Insider’s Guide: L.A. with Nicole Williams-English
In this new series, we asked our in-the-know friends to give us a glimpse inside their favourite cities, adopted hometowns, and current locations. These Insider Guides will take you on a specially guided tour, stopping at our guest’s favourite spots, and hidden gems in food, drink, shopping, art and culture. Our collection of taste makers, artists, designers, and creative professionals will show you around their city, giving a local perspective that might not otherwise make it on the map so to speak.
By Lauren Walker-Lee
Nicole Williams-English , Model & Entrepreneur – L.A.
A Canadian expat who has found herself firmly planted on the West Coast embodying that L.A vibe, Nicole Williams- English began her career modelling, and with her entrepreneurial spirit parlayed into other business ventures including her line of swimwear Nia Lynn. Beautiful on the inside and out, Nicole wants everyone to feel good in their skin and their swimwear. Overseeing all parts of her business, being a social media mainstay, and keeping active and healthy with her husband Larry English, Nicole is a boss babe with Toronto roots.
On why she loves L.A:
“Being from canada, i’m used to cold weather and love that it’s sunny here year round. i also love the relaxed vibe of the city and the fact that i can drive 30 minutes and be at the beach or the santa monica pier. i do sometimes miss having four seasons, especially during christmas time. i grew up with snow and often miss it, but if i get homesick, i head to the grove around christmas time and they have fake snow falling into a huge christmas tree and santa’s workshop. i love where i live but will always be a proud canadian.”
Restaurants, Cafes, & Bars
Craig’s is one of LA’s landmark restaurants that’s become a “who’s who” celeb hangout that paparazzis swarm to, but it has maintained an authentic Italian feel and warm, intimate atmosphere. I love going there for a great glass of wine and vegan chicken parmigiana. Everything on the menu is pretty amazing and Craig himself is always greeting customers at the door. If you go, the chocolate pizza for dessert is a must!
This Italian restaurant has been around since 1964 and has some of the best Italian food you’ll ever have! It was an Old Hollywood favourite and still is a hot spot amongst locals today. I love the fact that they haven’t changed the restaurant too much over the years. There are old autographed photos of celebrities lining the walls and quaint cozy booths to sit in. You need to try the eggplant parmigiana with a glass of red wine. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
Sunset Tower Bar
This is my favourite place to go with my husband Larry! We love sitting in their cozy booths and having a glass of wine and talking over candle light. It’s in the famous Sunset Tower Hotel right off the Sunset Strip. It was built in 1929 and holds a lot of history. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra used to stay here so you can just imagine them there when you walk up the marble steps and into the dimly lit lobby. Just to the left is the bar where you’ll find a fireplace, a grand piano and white cloth tables in a very romantic setting. If you sit near the windows you’ll have a gorgeous view at night of the twinkling lights.
Cultural Landmarks, Museums, Art Galleries
The Griffith Observatory is located high up in the Hollywood Hills and has magnificent views of LA’s landscape. Griffith’s reasoning for building this observatory was to make astronomy accessible to the public. You can learn so much about space here and climb up to the massive telescope to see a close up of the moon. I’m very into astrology so I was blown away by this place. If you’re visiting LA, make sure to visit at sunset on a clear day!
This is a beautiful museum with great artwork and amazing gardens. It’s known for its architecture and gorgeous views of Los Angeles. It’s perched atop a hill in Brentwood where you can see spectacular views of LA if you go on a clear, summer day. I love visiting the exhibits and walking around the gardens, taking in all of the beautiful flowers and smells.
The Hollywood Sign
There is a cool Hollywood Sign hike that is a must-do for anyone visiting LA. If you take this hike, you’ll end up behind the 45 foot HOLLYWOOD letters! It’s great for a photo op but mostly, it’s just a breathtaking hike with fantastic views. I like to go on this hike with my two frenchie bulldogs or with friends.
Boutiques and Shopping Areas
This is the most iconic street for high end shopping. If you love fashion or even window shopping or people watching, this area is perfect. It has designer stores from Gucci to Fendi but also has some cool boutiques and beautiful restaurants. Pretty Woman is one of my favourite movies and it was filmed there so it holds a special place in my heart.
This is a street that’s fun for sightseeing and fast fashion. It’s my go-to area for when I need something cheap and easy! There are also so many cool, funky stores with cute trinkets to buy as presents for friends at home or an easy place to buy a going-out outfit. The vibe here is completely different than Rodeo Drive but really shows the diversity that LA has to offer. Style Delivers is my favourite little store on Melrose!
This is a really cool boutique that’s unique to LA and has a mix of designers! They have a range of everything from funky to high end, and one of my personal favourite brands, Kith. It’s great if you need to buy a gift because there’s so many options – from home goods to baby stuff to jewellery. They also have a cafe/restaurant so after hours of shopping you can relax and grab a coffee and a snack. My favourite is the matcha latte with almond milk.
Beverly Hot Springs
This is a luxurious, natural hot spring and one of the best spas I’ve ever been to. They have a relaxing natural hot spring cave where you can soak before your appointment. Their scrub treatment with yoghurt is amazing, but they also offer facials and a range of different treatments. This is a must-do while in LA!
More with nicole
On her typical Saturday…
On Saturdays, my husband and I have a routine where we drive to Santa Monica with our two frenchies. Jazzy and Ace hop in the car and we listen to a Jay-Z and Beyoncé soundtrack the whole way. We like to walk them along the boardwalk and feel the calming energy of the ocean. Then we usually stop at a restaurant near the pier for a break and a nice lunch. Once we get home, we drop the dogs off and go for a stroll down Sunset Blvd and check out a movie.
Where we might find her eating, drinking, or hanging out?
My hangout spots vary depending on my mood but my usual go-to is an outdoor shopping centre called The Grove. I love the dancing fountain and all of their Italian restaurants. I also live near the Sunset strip so I’m often walking on Sunset or checking out their bars and cafes. I can also be found at the Beverly Center or Melrose Ave for a bit of retail therapy.