Discovering LA the local way
Los Angeles is many things to many people — a hotspot for celebrities, a hipster haven, a beach paradise, a sprawling metropolis full of business opportunities. While you can certainly find all these things, to those who know it and love it best, it’s also much more: a city made up of many neighborhoods with distinctive personalities rubbing shoulders. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re in search of vintage shopping, natural beauty, sophisticated art, or just a really great taco and a cold beer.
If there’s one thing Angelenos love, it’s staying fit while snapping the perfect Instagram. Luckily, this city is jam-packed with natural beauty, so there are plenty of opportunities for both. Runyon Canyon (2000 N Fuller Ave) is a perpetual favorite for views of the city, and you can even join free yoga in the park at the trailhead a few times a week. Griffith Park (4730 Crystal Springs Dr) has a plethora of trails to explore, and the famous observatory is a sight worth seeing in its own right. On the quieter side, Elysian Park (835 Academy Rd) offers some peaceful paths for a foray into nature.
Santa Monica rooftop bars
Santa Monica is beautiful during the day, but it has a special charm after sundown as the lights of the pier reflect against the Pacific, and there’s no better way to enjoy this than with a cocktail in hand at a rooftop bar. Art deco Hotel Shangri-La houses Suite 700 (1301 Ocean Ave), a rooftop bar with enviable views, furniture made of suiting fabric, and fairy lights. Blue Streak at Loews (1700 Ocean Ave) is an ideal sunset spot with prime pier views and a chill poolside vibe. For a quintessential LA experience, savor views from Penthouse at Huntley Hotel (1111 2nd St), where the house mixologist will whip up a cocktail worthy of the panorama.
Melrose Trading Post
Get your fix of vintage and homemade goods from quirky to classic at Melrose Trading Post (7850 Melrose Ave). Every Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm, the parking lot of Fairfax High School transforms into a veritable wonderland of vendors, complete with live music to set the mood. Peruse everything from antique furniture to vintage fashion and one-of-a-kind homemade crafts that would be at home on Etsy, made even more appealing by chatting with the artisans.
The downtown area has seen a revitalization in recent years that makes it an exciting place to explore. Swing by the Los Angeles Central Library (630 W 5th St) to see the striking exterior with Egyptian and Mediterranean influences and its interior filled with murals of California history. For more books and vinyl, explore The Last Bookstore (453 S Spring St), located in an old bank, which has vast new/used collections, and impressive book sculptures upstairs.
Ogle the Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S Grand Ave) and perhaps catch an LA Philharmonic show, then head around the corner to the newly-opened Broad (221 S Grand Ave), a modern art museum where the outside is almost as arresting as the enormous collection of artwork inside. If you get hungry after seeing the sights, grab an inventive sandwich at Bäco Mercat (408 S. Main St), check out the vendors at Grand Central Market (308 S. Hill St), or make your way to Bottega Louie (700 S Grand Ave) for a modern take on pizza and pasta in an airy, expansive dining room — and a mouthwatering pastry display.
From breweries to beer bars, LA’s craft beer scene will appeal to anyone looking to sip their way through the city. Golden Road Brewing (5410 W San Fernando Rd) is housed in a funky, industrial space. They have several IPA’s in its core series, a Hefeweizen that’s perfect for a warm summer day, plus an ever-changing selection of seasonal brews. For an extensive local beer list accompanied by delectable gastropub grub, swing by Mohawk Bend (2141 Sunset Blvd) and try to work your way through their 70 taps. In the same neighborhood, Sunset Beer Company (1498 Sunset Blvd) is slipped into an unassuming strip mall, a hidden gem for beer lovers with fridges full of unique brews that you can take to-go or enjoy in the tasting room. Tucked into a gritty-glam warehouse in the Arts District, Angel City Brewery (216 S. Alameda St) specializes in lighter German and Belgian style beers. They’ve filled their sprawling space with picnic tables and games of cornhole, plus a fleet of food trucks in the parking lot to feed snack cravings.
Casual celebrity sightings
If you want to up your chances of a star sighting beyond the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you should make sure you’re going somewhere that’s just as enjoyable even if you don’t happen to recognize anyone at your neighboring table. Little Dom’s (2128 Hillhurst Ave) in Los Feliz is a celebrity favorite and serves delicious food any time of day, from brunch to dinner and drinks in the low lighting — perfect for subtly surveying the scene. The W Hollywood (6250 Hollywood Blvd) is right in the heart of the action, and the rooftop pool is the perfect spot to relax with a view of the iconic sign.
One of the many magical things about LA is the abundance of quality Mexican food around nearly every corner. While you can get delicious Mexican at a number of restaurants, we’re partial to the taco trucks proliferating the streets, where you almost can’t go wrong. Authentic food cooked in a truck and served hot whenever hunger strikes — including late nights for the ultimate end to an evening out — is a part of LA culture not be overlooked.
In Echo Park, Taco Zone (2064 Montana St) is a surefire winner, and in North Hollywood the salsa bar alone makes Tacos La Fonda (2135 N San Fernando Rd) worth sampling. Leo’s Tacos Truck (1515 S La Brea Ave, 415 Glendale Blvd, 1533 Vermont Ave, and 2400 W Pico Blvd) now has four trucks to better serve your taco cravings, and if you find yourself stumbling out of The York (5018 York Blvd) in the wee hours, Sonia’s Taco Truck (Eagle Rock Blvd and Yosemite intersection) won’t disappoint.
Old Town Pasadena
If you want to see a different side of LA and you’re craving a slower pace, Old Town is the place to go. Stroll Colorado Blvd to enjoy some prime window shopping, and slip into any of the welcoming cafes and bars for a cup of coffee or pint of beer to keep soaking up the atmosphere. Grab dinner at La Grande Orange Café (260 S Raymond Ave) or Luggage Room Pizzeria (260 S Raymond Ave) for modern takes on classic dishes and tasty drink options, both housed in the Del Mar train station. While you’re in town, don’t miss the Rose Bowl Flea Market (1001 Rose Bowl Dr) the second Sunday of every month, where you and the likes of Kendall Jenner or Michael Cera can fight over the most charming vintage furniture and jewelry.
To enjoy the 280+ days of sunshine this city boasts, pack a picnic or just your walking shoes to discover the local parks. Echo Park (751 Echo Park Ave) underwent a massive rejuvenation in the last few years and now offers striking city views as well as lush greenery and sparkling fountains in the lake. The Silver Lake Reservoir (1854 To 2246 Silver Lake Blvd) has a pleasant ambiance to stroll around, and the bungalows skirting the reservoir will have you mentally relocating. When you’re done walking, relax at the Silver Lake Meadow east of the res, with a picnic or perhaps a game of Frisbee on the rolling expanse of green lawns.
The museums of LA house some of the best art in the world, from the Getty (1200 Getty Center Dr) to the LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd), but there’s also art to be seen on the streets themselves. JR, a renowned street artist, has created some of the world’s best-known street art everywhere from Brazil to Shanghai, and you’ll find his “The Wrinkles of the City” project in LA, focused on weathered faces as a juxtaposition to the city’s obsession with youth and beauty — don’t miss Carl in Silverlake (1755 Glendale Blvd) and Old woman (Sunset Blvd and Portia St). Banksy’s left his mark too, with Parking at 908 S Broadway, for one. For a different type of art, check out the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA (Charles E Young Dr E), which holds works by the likes of Rodin and Matisse.