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, the novelty of being there will fade out within 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 into shady characters and 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 while 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 to experience a slice of Americana that will most likely disappear in the coming years.
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, especially 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. Over the past few years, marijuana has been legalized in California, and all you need do is keep an eye out for green crosses every couple of blocks.Where should you go to indulge in your habit? I suggest you start at…
5) Venice Beach
If you want to know why palm trees, murals, and awesome coastlines are synonymous with California, this is the place to prove it. An absolute haven for hedonists, artists, and beachgoers, it is a magnificent piece of land that should be visited on a timely manner. After enjoying a gorgeous day out, especially over a weekend when massive drum circles take form 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 must visit while you are here. It’s nothing special, comprising 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 must-see.
7) Food. Lots of it.
LA is known for its love for food, and you will find any cuisine your heart desires. 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 burger, 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.
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 genres 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, including Playhouse. It’s smack in the middle of Hollywood, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the dodgiest Mario/ Luigi cosplay on this side of the planet.