How To Visit Los Angeles Like A Local
How To Visit Los Angeles Like A Local
Los Angeles is one of the most popular cities on Earth, and always flocked with endless tourists.
But why visit the same old crap everyone else does? It's time we show you how to visit LA like a local.
First things first, I was born and raised in DC, so don't give me any shit here for not being from LA. That being said, I spent a solid decade living in the greater LA area, including 3 right in the heart of the city so I'll consider myself an expert, and if you disagree I couldn't care less.
Los Angeles is a massive and widely spread out city. I always used to laugh when someone would fly in to LAX and be surprised they weren't met outside the airport entrance with movie stars and the hollywood walk of fame. LAX is a solid 20-30 minute drive (if there are no cars on the road) south of downtown Los Angeles - one of the TWO downtowns that LA has.
Driving around LA can be a complete and utter nightmare, and no matter how much someone loves the city, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would disagree with this. With the city so spread out, having a car is essential, absolutely essential. Cabs are expensive and the metro (wait, LA has a metro?) simply doesn't go anywhere useful.
1) Rent a Car
You had to see this one coming huh? From LAX you'll want to have your own wheels. Taking a bus or shuttle to your hotel downtown is annoying, and while nice to just be dropped off, unless you wish to spend your entire trip jumping in and out of taxis going all over the place, renting a car is the smart move. At least this way while stuck in all that traffic you can control the tunes and try to make up shortcuts as you wish.
But seriously, to go from Pasadena to downtown, Universal Studios to the Santa Monica Pier, driving is a must and you'll be thankful you did, just make sure you have a good GPS system and you'll be fine. Avoid traveling during rush hour (7-10am and 3-8pm) and you should be ok, yes we know that rush hour is 8 hours of the day, get used to it.
2) Get Lost
One of the most unfortunate things about LA is the stereotypes that the city has. So many people have that one asshole friend who visited LA once, only stayed on Hollywood Blvd. and told everyone how lame it was. And they're right, Hollywood Blvd is a nightmare and if that was your only experience in LA we an't blame you, but there is so much more.
Go explore Thai Town for some killer food, get lost in Silverlake or Echo Park and find the coolest hipster bars, go to Korea Town and find the weirdest hole in the wall karaoke bars, its all there you just have to look for it.
3) Drive Up the Coast
While you've got the car, take the time to drive right by the Santa Monica Pier and keep going up the 1. You'll drive by all the beautiful beach homes in Malibu, around the gorgeous coastline curves of Camarillo and Oxnard and continue your way up to Ventura and Santa Barbara, one of the most amazing little cities in California, and only about a 90 minute drive north of LA.
Avoid taking the 101 and 5 freeways at all - the stretch on the 5 between the 101 and the 10 is the closest to hell you'll get on Earth.
4) Eat Too Much Mexican Food
It has been nearly 3 years now since I have lived in LA and, besides my friends, the one thing I miss the most is easily the AMAZING Mexican food. Street tacos are simply the most delicious (drunk) food imaginable.
About $1 a piece and available on street corners everywhere, don't be afraid to get down and dirty with the most authentic Mexican food around. If you are in LA, you need to try the food, just make sure its on a street corner in inside a corner shop and not an actual restaurant, you won't regret it.
5) Summer Dodgers Game
What is summer without a little baseball? Angelenos love their sports teams and have an insane passion for both the Lakers (yuck) and the Dodgers - they even have a second team, the Angels, if you can't make it to downtown.
Dodger Stadium is iconic and the place of legends. The games are always packed, rowdy and tons of fun. Sit back, eat a Dodger Dog, drink an $11 beer and soak in the perfect Southern California evening weather - the best way to visit Los Angeles.
Again, your car will come in handy here, but if you're going to drink just jump in a cab, it is a very close drive from downtown - again, assuming the traffic is minimal.
TIP: If you fancy having a couple drinks before hand, head to The Shortstop, a local Dodger bar just feet away from the entrance to the park right on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park.
6) Runyon Canyon Hike
Want to get a bit of a workout in on your trip while observing a wide selection of the most hungover hipsters LA has to offer? Head up to Runyon Canyon Park on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you are bound to see something special - whether a B level celebrity or a herd of hungover hipsters, reeling from the night before while decked out in authentic Native American head bands and plastic skateboard from 1995, truly entertaining.
Other than the people watching, the Runyon has an amazing view over the city and is an experience in and of itself, a classic workout of many Angelenos.