Guide to the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival
It’s an epic feast for the senses
Blue sky. Golden sunshine. A craft cocktail in one hand, a scrumptious morsel in the other. An all-you-can-eat extravaganza of gourmet food and drinks. Are you in heaven? No, but close enough: You’re at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.
If wine and food and perfect weather are your thing, clear your calendar in August, because you’ve got somewhere to be! Southern California’s most exciting food and wine festival isn’t confined to one spot, either. Rather, it’s a multi-day, city-spanning event that lets you get to know Los Angeles while you’re cozying up to its best flavors.
And don’t let the name fool you: World-class California wine is only one example of the drinks offered at the festival. You’ll also find distilled spirits, one-of-a-kind cocktails, and other thirst-quenching sips. In addition to all the tasty treats, you’ll find music, book signings, and other entertainment to keep things fun even after you’ve had your fill.
You may consider yourself a festival devotee, but trust us, you’ve never tasted anything like the LA Food and Wine Festival. Read on for great tips on navigating the festival—and the city that hosts it.
Where is the Food and Wine Festival?
The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival takes place at locations all over LA, with major events in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Chinatown, and the downtown area. Reserve your place for special events at individual restaurants, attend exhibitions by celebrity chefs, or enjoy the street fair atmosphere at the food and drink booths in the heart of town.
How long is the Food and Wine Festival, and when does it happen?
This LA festival takes place in August. It’s a four-day extended weekend running from Thursday through Saturday the weekend before Labor Day Weekend. In 2020, that means events will take place August 27th – 30th. There are special events in different locations every day, so check the LAFW website for updates as the event approaches.
How much is the Food and Wine Festival?
If you just want a quick dip into the food Los Angeles has to offer, you can purchase tickets to individual events that take place during the festival. But a general admission ticket for $150 covers all four days, and VIP tickets are $195. Unlimited food, wine, and cocktails are covered when you purchase LA Food and Wine Festival tickets, so bring a hungry belly. Going to a days-long festival and spending big bucks on subpar sustenance is so passé, don’t you think?
What will be on the Food and Wine Festival menu?
The question you should be asking is, what won’t be on the menu? Los Angeles is a multicultural city in a state famous for the diversity of its agriculture. Expect to find global cuisine, home-grown California staples, elevated takes on comfort food, fine hors d’oeuvres, and inventive dishes from cutting-edge chefs.
And as one of the biggest wine events in Los Angeles, the Food and Wine Festival will be overflowing with vino that showcases the sumptuous terroir of California’s volcanic soil. Los Angeles has a great bar scene, too, so expect to be impressed by craft cocktails made with fresh ingredients.
What will the weather be like?
Hot, hot, hot! In August, you can expect temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Bring sunscreen and a hat to keep yourself safe while you’re chowing down in the California sunshine. You might want a light outer layer for evenings by the beach, but it probably won’t get colder than the low 60s.
Closest airport & transportation
Food and Wine Festival-goers booking flights to Los Angeles will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). From the airport, downtown LA is about 20 miles (a 25-45 minute drive, depending on traffic) and Santa Monica is 12 miles away (25 minutes by car). If the idea of driving in Los Angeles makes you jumpy—and, yes, the traffic can be intense—there are several other ways to get to your hotel or the festival:
- LA Metro: The Metro is LA’s public transportation system, and its buses and light rail lines connect the sprawling city of Los Angeles. Visit the LA Metro website and use the handy Trip Planner feature to figure out your route and catch a bus right at LAX.
- Heads Up: You’ll need $1.75 cash for your first bus trip out of the airport, but many rail stations have vending machines selling reusable TAP cards, which can be loaded (and re-loaded) with LA Metro fares. You can buy rides by the journey, the day, the week, or the month.
- FlyAway Bus: If you don’t want to worry about changing buses and trains but still want an affordable ride from the airport, try a FLyAway Bus. Nonstop, fixed-route buses leaving LAX for Hollywood, Long Beach, Van Nuys, or Downtown LA’s Union Station depart once per hour from early morning until late night, and no fare is over $10.
- Rideshare or Taxi: Of course, you can always take a rideshare or get a cab. To do either, hop on the LAX-it bus, which will take you to a designated rideshare and taxi area. From there, you can hire the car service of your choice.
Where to stay
There are more cool neighborhoods in Los Angeles than there are ways to order avocado toast at a bottomless brunch. Coincidentally, there are hotels in LA to suit every budget, so if you want to check out a fun part of town, start with one of these:
- The Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is home to rock ‘n’ roll’s most legendary clubs and venues, like Whisky a Go Go, the Roxy, the Rainbow Bar & Grill, and the Viper Room. If you want to hear live music any night of the week while sticking close to the Food & Wine Festival’s Beverly Hills hot spots, book a night at one of the boutique hotels on or around the Strip.
- Studio City is home to the eastern portion of Ventura Boulevard, the longest avenue of contiguous businesses in the world. On Ventura, you’ll find great sushi joints, bistros, boutiques, bookstores, antique stores, and countless other tempting ways to amuse yourself. Studio City also has a bustling farmers market on Sunday mornings, giving you a chance to try even more of LA’s flavors.
- Downtown isn’t just conveniently close to the food fest action, it’s also the can’t-miss artistic and cultural heart of the city. Marvel at the beautifully run-down motion picture palaces on Broadway, browse latest styles at Santee Alley’s open-air markets, or check out some art at The Broad, a contemporary art museum (it’s free!).
Other things to do in Los Angeles
Okay, the avocado toast and bottomless brunches really are beloved by locals and visitors alike. But there are plenty of things to do in LA that aren’t food-based, too:
- LACMA: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art isn’t just a treasure trove of ancient and modern global art, it’s also the home of the famously photoshoot-ready Urban Light outdoor installation, made from restored Art Deco-era street lamps.
- Griffith Park: Go for a hike, visit an abandoned midcentury zoo, ride a carousel, or see a panoramic view of the city from Griffith Observatory. They’re all part of Griffith Park, a sprawling recreation area adjacent to the Hollywood Hills.
- Studio Tours: Book a studio tour at Warner Brothers or Universal Studios. Far from tourist traps, they’re fun and immersive ways to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the film industry and see sets from classic movies and TV shows.
In Los Angeles, the weather is always good and the juice is always fresh-squeezed. Come see for yourself at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.
Header image: Via K.Decha/Shutterstock.com