I was recently approached by a friend to offer her insight about the stand-out things one might do in LA. I am not an expert, nor do I entitle myself an ‘Angeleno’, but I have spent the better part of one year in this expansive city exploring it through the eyes of a visitor. Here, for your viewing pleasure, was what I sent her. Let me know what you think and if you would like me to add anything to the list!
I wanted to start off with the most touristic spot that many visitors ask about. Yes, it’s the Hollywood you see on TV, no it is not the Hollywood you see in the movies. In fact, you will be done with the novelty of being there in mere minutes. Factor in the charm of seeing the Walk of Fame and the likes of the Chinese Theater, and you have yourself 20 minutes. You will more than likely bump in to shady characters, and almost definitely be bombarded with photo requests by costume wearers who seem to celebrate Halloween year-long, but while you’re on Hollywood….
2) Have lunch at Hooters
As juvenile as it may sound, especially that we’ve all grown up beyond waitresses serving you chicken wings and beer, wearing the tightest possible shorts and shirts, you can not come to LA, nay, to the United States, and not eat at Hooters. Is it awesome food? Nothing special, but the place has to be on everyone’s bucket list.
3) Visit Universal Studios / Disneyland
I’m not sure if you’ve been to either of them, but you have to experience them in your adulthood, specially if you’re lifted, which brings me to…
4) Weed is abundantly available
Nuff said. Whether you’re a casual smoker or an all-out stoner, you will be sampling top shelf produce from one of the hundreds of dispensaries peppered around the city. No shady dealings, no dodgy contacts–Straight up business. If you create your own license ($140), you will go home with a medical marijuana ID to show off and laugh about, and you will get to see the insides of the dispensaries–well worth the view, if I were to be asked. Where can you get that license, you ask? Why it’s at places like…
5) Venice Beach
If you want to know why palm trees, mural art and awesome coastlines are synonymous with California, this is the place to prove it. Absolute haven for hedonists, artists and beach goers, it is a magnificent piece of land that I love visiting in a timely manner. After enjoying a gorgeous day out, especially over a weekend when a massive drum circle shapes up on the beach around sunset, your next logical stop would be…
6) Santa Monica Pier
Located an easy 30 minute walk along the Venice beach coastline, this decadent and vintage spot is another one of those areas you can’t not visit while you are here. It’s nothing special, compromising of a Ferris wheel, some random rides for kids and a few artists displaying their works, but the vibe and feel of the place is another California must-see.
7) Food. Lots of it.
LA is known for it’s love for food, and there are a gazillion places that I would love to name but obviously won’t as these places are dependant on your mood and taste. Honorable mentions are In ‘n’ Out Burger, complete with their ‘secret menu’ that was only shared via word of mouth until the internet took over, SugarFish with its sublime approach to sushi that you have to taste to believe, and that dingy Mexican joint that sells the best tacos. Also, you will have to try Churros and Funnel Cakes. I’m not sure about the origin of the latter, but the former is Mexican and is the bomb-diggy when it comes to sweet, cinnamon treats. As a general rule, avoid anything that looks like this, and you should be fine!
While I’m on the subject of food…
8) Food trucks
Scattered around the city is a ridiculous amount of food trucks that serve up everything from the saltiest to the sweetest of foods. Hamburgers, cakes, fried Oreos, waffles, chicken wings, pancake sandwiches doused in banana mustard and basted with vegemite. I’m not really sure about that last one, but you may as well find it! If you’re not accustomed to eating from a truck, let me comfort you from now: Every one of them is graded as a stand-alone restaurant would and are required to display their score for all to see. Regardless, be your own judge and don’t go around eating deep fried fava beans mixed with pig fat just because a truck brandishes an ‘A’ score.
9) Comedy Clubs
These places are a dime a dozen, but there are a couple of places like the Laugh Factory that you will probably want to visit. It’s where most all comedians you grew up watching had their start, and where you will most likely bump in to Jesus.
10) The Viper Room / House of Blues
Two iconic spots that have hosted every rock, blues, and jazz musician you can think of. If you are looking for live music, this is probably where you would want to go. They also host a plethora of musical events that cover music beyond rock. Just check out their schedules prior to your arrival.
If you entertain the club scene, there are a multitude of clubs to consider, my favorite being Playhouse. It’s smack in the middle of Hollywood, arguably has the hottest pole dancers and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the dodgiest Mario / Luigi cosplay on this side of the world.