Los Angeles is a city very near and dear to our hearts. Our soul-binding friendships started in this city of California dreamin’.
LA is known for its glitz and glamour, and tourists usually flock to the usual spots for their glimpse of the Hollywood life of the rich and famous. If it is your first time here, you probably have these in your itinerary: Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, etc.. Yes they are all very important and famous landmarks, but they really don’t tell you much about Los Angeles itself.
If it is your second or third time visiting, or you want to experience the city like a true local, chances are you won’t be going to the Mann’s Chinese Theatre. To help submerge you into the LA lifestyle, here is our guide to non touristy things to do during your stay in LA.
You cannot come to Los Angeles without attending an outdoor concert or two. Your two best bets are Hollywood Bowl and The Greek Theater. If you find yourself in town during the summer months, you are in luck as the Bowl hosts a series of concerts every week. Bring your own food and drinks and head there early for a little picnic before the concert, it is an amazing experience. The Greek Theater is located in Griffith Park and has a more alternative vibe, and has hosted many iconic artists through the years.
You are in LA so you better take advantage of the awesome weather! Catch a good old classic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It is a one of a kind experience and everyone is just there to have a good time, none of the “Hollywood” vibe if you know what we mean. There is also Street Food Cinema which is a blend of movies, music, and food trucks. They screen oldies but also more contemporary classics like Bridesmaids. They have multiple venues and it is different each week.
Nothing is more awesome than catching a movie with your loved ones under the starry sky.
Los Angeles is known for its movie, music, and stand-up comedy scenes, but it also has quite a budding art scene. Now it is nothing like New York where you have 6 museums within a 10 block radius, or 40 shows running at the same time on Broadway, but we still have our fair share of love for the art.
LACMA of course is the most well-known with its lamp-post installation. Our favorites are the Getty Center and Getty Villa, where the highlights are the architecture and the breathtaking views. There is also the newly opened Broad Museum in DTLA with free admission, and across the street is one of the two MOCA museums in downtown.
For those who are into musicals and performance art, there is the Los Angeles Music Center in DTLA and the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. If you are in town on a second Thursday of the month, head to downtown at night for the Art Walk.
Everyone loves to brunch in LA, it is THE most important meal of the day. If you go on a weekend it is pretty much guaranteed there will be a wait. Most brunch spots do not take reservations, unless you are into one of those stuffy hotel brunches. If you could, go on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd.
But what else is more perfect than ordering your favorite breakfast dish and sipping your coffee of choice under that gorgeous sun? And you really cannot go wrong with brunch anywhere, how hard is it to mess up scrambled eggs? Brunching is the best time to catch up with your friends, not to mention some serious people watching.
Have you seen that SoCal sun? Who can resist the temptation of a good old natural tan? We are more pool lounger and we usually go to one of our apartments’ pool decks when we just want to lay out and chill. Majority of apartments or condos have a pool area in Los Angeles (duh), which makes it a lot more convenient than trekking all the way to the beach. The same goes with hotels, and many of the hip ones host pool parties on weekends.
If you prefer the beach, we recommend you head to Huntington or Manhattan Beach for a more relaxed experience. Most tourists are only aware of Santa Monica and Malibu. Santa Monica is extremely crowded and traffic is really a pain, not to mention one of the dirtiest beaches in the country.
Although the air quality sucks and the grass is mostly yellow, Los Angelenos really love hiking! Most people from out of state are only aware of Runyon Canyon for celebrity-sighting, or they go on that little stroll to get a slightly closer glimpse of the Hollywood sign. But we get a lot more options that those when it comes to hiking.
If you have time and want a not too intense hike with good views, we recommend the Griffith Observatory Trails, Solstice Canyon in Malibu, and Abalone Cove in Palos Verdes. The Griffith hike gives you a 360 degree view of the LA basin, while the Malibu Hike gives you a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. Abalone Cove is more of a coastal walk than a hike, but you are literally walking on the rocky beach and the view is just unbelievable.
Bring plenty of water and wear your sunscreen, do not underestimate that SoCal sun!
If you are like us, you love shopping. People love to shop in LA, and there are malls everywhere in the city. Not everyone can afford shopping on Rodeo Drive every time, nor do we want to be anywhere near the mess of Hollywood & Highland, which all locals avoid unless you live close by.
Our favorite mall is Westfield Century City, which is a mix of brands ranging from The Gap to Louis Vuitton, anchored by a pretty awesome Bloomingdale’s. If you want a more local family vibe, we recommend The Grove in La Brea and Americana at Brand in Glendale (which has another massive mall Glendale Galleria right across the street!). Parking is a nightmare though at The Grove, but you may run into a celebrity or two if you get lucky. There is of course Robertson which is made famous by all the celebs who shop at Kitson, the traffic has been dying down lately but still worth a stroll.
If you are into flea market hunting, head over to the Melrose Trading Post, which is open every Sunday. There is also the massive Rose Bowl Flea Market that’s open every second Sunday of the month, and when we say massive, we really mean it as it wraps around the Rose Bowl Stadium.
No, we are not referring to the LA Zoo, we are talking about this place of awesomeness called Malibu Wine Safaris. Some of us have lived in LA forever and still weren’t aware of its existence until this year! In fact our first blog post was about our experience at the Safaris. It is a wine tasting tour up in the Santa Monica Mountains where you get to feed zebras and llamas, it is tons of fun and definitely a must go when you find yourself in LA! Read our post to find out more about our experience.
Los Angeles is more than just Hollywood and Beverly Hills, with many different pockets to explore.
Spend a day Downtown and explore this emerging neighborhood on steroids. Head over to Pasadena, one of the oldest suburbs in LA, and get charmed by the lovely Old Town. Experience what upscale farmer’s market is like at the Brentwood Country Mart and maybe bump into a celebrity or two. Walk around Silverlake for the ultimate LA hipster scene experience. Go bar hopping in Manhattan Beach, especially on game days, and have fun with the rowdy youngsters to reminisce the good old college days.
For those who want to explore the massive Asian food scene, there are plenty of options. There is Little Tokyo in downtown, Koreatown with its food quality rivaling Seoul’s, and Alhambra/ Monterey Park/ San Gabriel area for every single type of Chinese cuisine you can find.
If you have time (and a car) drive down to Palos Verdes, or even further down to Laguna Beach, and enjoy the coastal views. We can go on and on but we will stop here now…
So next time when you find yourself in LA and not sure what to do, make sure to hit up one of the spots above and be a local! On that note, we shall present you an identity map of Los Angeles. Don’t remember what the source is but it is hilarious and oh so true.