Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., has no shortage of things to do. A local gives us the low-down on what to see and do in the City of Angels.
Visitors and vagabonds alike find themselves wandering Los Angeles, California, for every reason these days. Truly, it’s a city for every type of lover: The Food Junkie, The Enthusiastic Artist, The Star Chaser, The Professional Beach Bum, etc. L.A. is as diverse in its culture as it is in landscape, which is varied to say the least. If you are there to stay or are simply passing through, let L.A. woo you with its storied streets and, at times, strangeness. Here’s a list of 11 things you absolutely have to do when you’re in LA-LA Land.
1. Cruise Sunset Strip
Drive your roofless rental from Chinatown to the beach. It’s driveable (non-rush hour) and a great way to witness L.A.’s varied neighborhoods. Pass through downtown, Hollywood and end in Santa Monica or Malibu, depending on your mood. It’s a great way to see the entire city in one day. If you’re feeling really adventurous, walk it!
2. Eat a Burrito
Los Angeles is known for its Mexican influence (on more than just cuisine), but for my money (all three dollars) you can get the best burrito this side of the border at Tacos Villa Corona in Atwater Village. Bring your cash for the best breakfast burrito cash-only can buy. You can thank me later (and you will).
3. Get Secretive
L.A. has hosted speakeasies since Prohibition, but now you just have find a spot conceived by the Houston Brothers to feel exclusive. There’s La Descarga, the Cuban rum bar (entrance: office closet) or enjoy a hammock while sipping your mixologist’s “award winning whatever” at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, where you enter through a refrigerator. Because … why not?
4. Laugh It Up
More times than not, you can find your favorite comedians performing in Franklin Village at the Upright Citizens Brigade. You may see Amy Poehler (a founding member) do a monologue that turns into an hour-long improv, or Zach Galifianakis being Zach Galifianakis. Nowhere else in town can you see such affordable, high quality comedy. Tickets sell fast!
5. Beach, obviously
When listening to The Doors gives way to The Beach Boys, it’s time to begin your trip to the beach. And not just any beach: Venice Beach. Home to Muscle Beach — where Arnold-hopefuls show off their spray tans, illegal-ish hippie drum circles form and artists sell their wares to passersby — Venice has it all.
6. Find Your Inner Artist
Los Angeles is going through a makeover. Where empty, abandoned warehouses once sat, a thriving arts district now lives and breathes. Call it “gentrification,” or call it a biergarten that sells pretzel dogs with mustard cheese aioli, but L.A. is going through such a transformation and it’s kind of … awesome. Grab a cocktail at the Edison or mosey on down “the alley” to the Daily Dose cafe where you can satisfy all of your locally grown artisanal sandwich cravings.
7. Pay Your Respects
Resting quietly in Glendale, Forest Lawn Memorial Park is a great place to experience serenity in L.A. No, you can’t actually go inside the Hogwartsian castle to see Michael Jackson’s gravesite, but you can see imitation Michelangelo sculptures. Both “La Pieta” and “David” are replicated to scale here out of the same marble that the artist himself sculpted from.
8. Take a Hike
When traffic gets you down, and you’ve seen three too many Jack Sparrow impersonators, check out any of the hiking destinations L.A. offers. Runyon Canyon is a popular local spot. The lush greenery allows visitors to enjoy the sunshine out on Mother Nature’s doorstep without having to go far into the mountains.
9. Karaoke Korean Style
Koreatown is one of the most densely populated regions of L.A. Try out some infamous Korean barbecue (you cook it yourself!) and then after your food-induced coma, take a short Lyft ride to Korean karaoke at SoopSok (pronounced “Soup-Soak”) to enjoy the sub-par talents of your friends in a private karaoke room, complete with awkward music videos to accompany each Journey song.
10. Go Full Hipster
You’re likely to see Michael Cera grabbing a cocktail or Jack Black walking in Los Feliz. All the places you “just haveta see” are here. Check out a film at the Los Feliz 3 or head to Figaro Bistrot for an authentic croissant. If you get invited to a backyard party in Silverlake, go. Just go.
11. Get Screened
Hollywood being Hollywood, it has all of the studios, stars and movies you could ever want. This is where films are born, and also where they are tested. And you can get in on that, too, even if you are just visiting! Studios test how an audience reacts to the film. You could be that audience member reacting!