Experience Presidential Los Angeles

President Barack Obama Canter's Deli group photo
President Barack Obama poses with staff at Canter’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles, July 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Los Angeles - where celebrities often mingle with the masses - is certainly accustomed to hosting high-profile guests, but no one receives the VIP treatment quite like L.A.’s most famous visitors: U.S. presidents. Although you probably won’t arrive aboard Air Force One or be escorted around the city in a motorcade, you can still take some cues from our nation’s Chief Executives and experience presidential L.A.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Tower and Tropicana Pool
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Tower and Tropicana Pool  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Name That President

Numerous streets, schools and buildings across Los Angeles are named after U.S. presidents, from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (named for our 26th president) to John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

Some of L.A.'s most-traveled boulevards are also named for presidents: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln. President Barack Obama joined this list in June 2017, when the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the motion to rename 3.5 miles of Rodeo Road in South L.A. as Obama Boulevard. Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. introduced then-Sen. Obama at his first Los Angeles presidential campaign rally at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex on Rodeo Road in 2007. 

Battleship IOWA at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro
Battleship IOWA in San Pedro  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Step Into History

In July 2012, the Battleship IOWA celebrated its grand opening as a floating museum, now permanently docked at Berth 87 in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. Visitors can tour the IOWA and learn about life on board the ship and its legacy as one of the fastest and most powerful ships ever to sail the world’s oceans. The famed battleship was designated the "World's Greatest Naval Ship" because of her big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modernization flexibility, which allowed her to keep pace with technology.

Renowned as the "Battleship of Presidents," the IOWA was outfitted in WWII to be the flagship that carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic in 1943 for meetings with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. A bathtub was installed on the IOWA as a convenience for FDR, making it the only U.S. Navy warship with a bathtub built for a president. The Battleship IOWA was the flagship for President Reagan for our nation's Celebration of Liberty in New York City on July 4, 1986.

Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Air Force One Pavilion | Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

For a vivid look into presidential history, visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. An exact replica of Reagan’s Oval Office includes a jar of Jelly Belly candies on the desk — the licorice-flavored beans were the 40th president’s signature snack.

Inside the Air Force One Pavilion, climb aboard the actual "Flying White House" (tail number 27000) that flew Reagan and six other presidents around the globe. From Air Force One, President Reagan hand-wrote many of his speeches, signed important legislation, and even officially started a NASCAR race via phone. The pavilion also features a 120-foot mural that represents all 22 aircraft that have ever flown a U.S. president, and an actual Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson.

"Wall Against Walls" at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Downtown LA
La Plaza de Cultura y Artes CEO John Echeveste and Marcos Cline-Marquez, founder and executive producer at Altered LA, with the "Wall Against Walls" | Photo: La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" ~ President Ronald Reagan, West Berlin (June 12, 1987)

On Nov. 9, 2019 - the 30th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Berlin residents attempted to gift President Donald Trump with the "Wall Against Walls," a 2.7-ton section of the wall itself. A letter inscribed on the side of the wall begins: “Dear President Trump, this is an original piece of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years it separated East and west, families and friends. It divided not only Berlin and Germany but the whole world.” It was refused.

The inscription reads:

Dear President Trump,

This is an original piece of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, it separated east and west, families, and friends.

It divided not only Berlin and Germany, but the whole world. Too many people died trying to cross it—their only crime being their desire to be free. Today the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany is united again, and only a few scattered pieces remind us that no wall lasts forever.

For decades, the United States played a major role in bringing this wall down. From John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the Presidents of the USA fought against it.

We would like to give you one of the last pieces of the failed Berlin Wall to commemorate the United States’ dedication to building a world without walls.

Citizens of Berlin


After traveling cross-country, the 12-foot-tall section of the Berlin Wall – called the "Wall Against Walls" – was erected on Feb. 7, 2020 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes’ newly-renovated Historic Paseo Walkway, where it will be on display for an indefinite period of time. Visitors to the Walkway can read the message, meant as a “thank you” from Berliners to the United States and its people.

Marcos Cline-Marquez, founder and executive producer at Altered.LA, worked with Berlin-based pro-democracy nonprofit Die Offene Gesellschaft, the project’s orchestrators, to transport the Wall Against Walls from Berlin to the United States.

President John F. Kennedy delivers "The New Frontier" speech at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 15, 1960
President John F. Kennedy delivers "The New Frontier" speech on July 15, 1960 | Photo: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Facebook

The 1960 Democratic National Convention was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on July 11–15. It nominated Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts for President and Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas for Vice President.

On the last day of the convention, Kennedy delivered his formal acceptance speech from the adjacent Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. According to the JFK Library, the audience of 80,000 was touted at the time as the largest crowd ever to hear a political speech. The speech became known as "The New Frontier":

"Today some would say that those struggles are all over - that all the horizons have been explored - that all the battles have been won - that there is no longer an American frontier.

But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won - and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier - the frontier of the 1960s - a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils - a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.”

A plaque in the Coliseum's Memorial Court of Honor, located within the iconic Peristyle arches, commemorates JFK's historic speech.

Colossal bust of George Washington by David d’Angers at The Huntington Library
Colossal marble bust of George Washington by David d’Angers | Photo: The Huntington Library

Founded in 1919, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is world renowned as a cultural, research and educational center. Our nation’s first president can be found in numerous works on display throughout the galleries. A colossal marble bust of George Washington by French artist Pierre-Jean David, called David d’Angers (1788–1856), is on view in the Huntington Art Gallery. Recent scientific evidence suggests that the bust is a famous piece once thought lost in a fire in the nation’s Capitol.

In the Main Exhibition Hall of the Library, visitors can’t miss a life-size bronze sculpture of George Washington - a copy of the original by Jean-Antoine Houdon, a major French portrait sculptor during the Enlightenment. In the Huntington Art Gallery, look above the mantle in the dining room for a familiar portrait of Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1819. And in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, an entire wall is devoted to portraits of Washington, including one by Charles Willson Peale that was made when Congress, in a jubilant mood, summoned the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army to Philadelphia.

Fountain and Pacific Theatres at The Grove
Photo: The Grove

Dress to Impress

There’s nothing like a smartly tailored outfit to help you feel presidential. Head to The Grove or Americana at Brand, where Nordstrom carries Hart Schaffner Marx off-the-rack and made-to-measure suits. Barack Obama wore specially tailored Hart Schaffner Marx suits for two historic speeches: accepting his party’s nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and his 2009 Inaugural Address. Those who long to channel the former First Lady’s impeccable fashion sense should stroll the shops along Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The upscale district’s Savannah boutique carries White House-worthy labels such as Jason Wu and Narciso Rodriguez. 

Obama's Special at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles on Pico Blvd
Obama's Special at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles on Pico Blvd | Photo: @ilaylow75, Instagram

Hail to the Chef

Los Angeles restaurants have satisfied presidential appetites for decades. During his presidency, Obama made frequent visits to Los Angeles and enjoyed the full spectrum of the L.A. dining scene, from exclusive fundraising dinners at Tavern and Fig & Olive to an unscheduled stop at the Pico Boulevard location of Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, where he ordered the #9 Country Boy Combo - it's now known as Obama's Special.

President Barack Obama at Canter's Deli
President Barack Obama greets patrons at Canter's Delicatessen in Los Angeles, July 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In July 2014, President Obama had lunch at Canter's Deli on Fairfax. Joining him were four people who had written to him about their daily struggles. After he mingled with diners and posed for pictures, the president's visit quickly went viral on social media. It wasn't the first time that Canter's had welcomed a commander in chief - Presidents Kennedy and Nixon have also stopped by the famed deli.

Ronald Reagan was a longtime regular at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills even before he became president, while Bill Clinton - who eats an almost entirely plant-based diet - has dined at Crossroads Kitchen.

Rendering: Fairmont Century Plaza
Rendering: Fairmont Century Plaza

Stay in Style

Few of us will ever be invited to the White House for an overnight stay in the Lincoln Bedroom, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay in the same hotels as U.S. presidents — or even sleep in the same beds. Los Angeles hotels have some of the most impressive presidential suites in the country, with lavish furnishings, breathtaking views, enough square footage to require a map, and perks that would make anyone feel like royalty.

Every president since Lyndon Johnson slept in the presidential suite at the Century Plaza, which is currently undergoing a $2.5-billion redevelopment and is scheduled to reopen as the Fairmont Century Plaza this summer. President Reagan celebrated both of his election-day victory parties at the Century Plaza, and spent so much time at the hotel that it was dubbed “The Western White House” during his presidency.

Living room of The Ritz-Carlton Suite at The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles
The Ritz-Carlton Suite | Photo: The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

Boasting panoramic views of the mountains and ocean, the Ritz-Carlton Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles spans 2,900 square feet with entertainment area, multiple seating areas and powder room; formal dining area with seating for 10; and large master bedroom with luxurious dressing area.

Presidential Suite East in the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Presidential Suite East | Photo: Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Presidential Suite West in the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Presidential Suite West | Photo: Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Can't decide if you want your presidential suite facing to the east or the west? Not to worry, the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has you covered with two Presidential Suites. Both suites feature two king beds and can accommodate six adults (or 4 adults and 2 children). The Doheny Experience offers amenities such as “Plane to Suite” meet and greet, personal attendant service, and complimentary rental of a Range Rover.

Presidential Suite at Hotel Bel-Air
Presidential Suite | Photo: Hotel Bel-Air

At the landmark Hotel Bel-Air, the stunning Presidential Suite is like a private home hidden in one of the most romantic hotels in Los Angeles. Inspired by mid-century Southern California design, the 6,700 square-foot suite features garden views, a piano and a fireplace, and patio complete with dining area and Jacuzzi. Pass through French doors and onto the courtyard with a private swimming pool.

Dining room in the Presidential Suite at The Beverly Hilton
Dining room in the Presidential Suite | Photo: The Beverly Hilton

Considering the deep political divide that separates Democrats and Republicans these days, it's nice to know that presidents of both parties, from JFK to Obama, have stayed at The Beverly Hilton. Located on the Penthouse Level, the historic three-room Presidential Suite has hosted presidents, dignitaries and royalty from around the world. Celebrity guests include legends like Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

Bedroom of the Wilshire Presidential Suite in the Beverly Wilshire
Wilshire Presidential Suite | Photo: Beverly Wilshire

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama stayed at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. Built in 1928, the historic Beverly Wilshire is known to millions of movie fans as the hotel where Julia Roberts stays in Pretty Woman.

You’re the star of your own love story when you book the Pretty Woman for a Day package at the Beverly Wilshire. Enjoy over-the-top accommodations in one of the hotel's coveted Specialty Suites - including the 4,000 square-foot Wilshire Presidential Suite - and indulge in a variety of VIP offerings:

  • Behind-the-scenes tour of Rodeo Drive’s most famous fashion houses with your own personal wardrobe consultant and stylist.
  • An exclusive dining experience at THE Blvd, with special menu items from our Executive Chef Romantic dinner for two in the privacy of your Suite.
  • Round-trip transportation in a Mercedes Sedan is included.

Retreat to the award-winning Spa for a couples massage and allow the Bath Butler to continue the lavish experience in your accommodations with a hand-drawn bath using personalized aromatherapy oils. No detail is overlooked in this celebrity-style fairy tale.

President Barack Obama and Jimmy Kimmel on the set of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
President Barack Obama and Jimmy Kimmel on the set of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in Hollywood, March 12, 2015 | Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Flickr

Laugh it Up

Generations of TV talk show hosts have gauged the pulse of the nation with their opening monologues, a comedy bit that Johnny Carson perfected on The Tonight Show. On March 19, 2009, The Tonight Show became the first late-night talk show in history to have the sitting President of the United States as a guest, when President Barack Obama visited with Jay Leno. He appeared several more times on The Tonight Show and became a regular on late night and daytime talk shows.

Mean Tweets is one of the most popular sketches on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which tapes in Hollywood. In October 2016, President Obama read a tweet by a certain @realDonaldTrump, who called him the worst president in history. The president fired back a now-classic response to the delight of the studio audience.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which tapes at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, welcomed President Obama in February 2016. DeGeneres praised Obama for “what you’ve done for the gay community.” The president in turn credited a visibly moved DeGeneres for changing hearts and minds: "I don't think anybody has been more influential than you on that."

Golfer takes a swing at Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park
Harding Golf Course | Photo: @reneberry, Instagram

Take a Swing

Presidents are well-known for playing golf - some more frequently than others. Griffith Park is home to two 18-hole public golf courses that are named for presidents: Wilson and Harding, which opened in 1927 and 1923, respectively. Both par-72 courses were designed by George Thomas, with later modifications from William P. Bell and William Johnson. The Wilson and Harding courses famously co-hosted the Los Angeles Open from 1936-38.

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Eso Won Books | Instagram by @inkerijj

Read All About It

Dubbed the “Black Greenwich Village” by the late filmmaker John Singleton, the historic neighborhood of Leimert Park is widely regarded as the cultural hub for African Americans in L.A. President Obama has visited Leimert Park twice, to sign his books at Eso Won Books, a neighborhood staple that specializes in African American titles and authors. The first time was in 1995, for his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” The second time coincided with the release of his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope.” Eso Won has also hosted Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley among many other authors.