Living in Los Angeles and residing here are two completely different things. Allow me to highlight that for you:
Living in LA requires you to be doing what Angelenos do:
Go eat at one of the hundreds of fine restaurants that offer you the same food you’ve always eaten but renamed and re-branded for the sake of originality.
Attend galleries for people you’ve never heard of and never will care about while looking at “art” that is better sold on a Venice Beach boardwalk for the price of a deep fried Oreo.
Smoke from a myriad selection of weed strains while trying to act like you can tell one strain from the other.
Buy food from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s that is gluten-free and so organic, you can smell the manure it was planted in.
Show off that you are living in LA by telling people how awesome restaurants here are, how great the art scene is, how natural the food is, and how sublime the weed choice is.
Residing in LA is a whole different story. You’re either at home, or at work, planning a weekend getaway to Las Vegas, Santa Barbara or Malibu, all of which you’ve been to more than you’d be willing to admit to yourself, and all of them being more boring than you’d be willing to admit to your friends and co-workers.
Hey, you have to stand out somehow, right? What’s the point of going on a “staycation” if you’re not going to boast about it? Either way, you are ultimately just staring out the window waiting for something to happen, or for someone to come and tell you “Good job! You’re in LA! Let’s chest-bump and give you that moral boost you were looking for!”
That, or you’re just another actor driving an Uber in-between roles, practicing Yoga over the weekends.
But I hate, I hate! LA is actually an awesome spot, our primary choice of city when my wife and I planned our excursion to the land of the free, home of the brave. Something about it just stuck with us and we hope all our friends and loved ones discover its charm for themselves; the charm inherent in the wonderful food, inspiring art and copious amounts of weed.
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 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, murals, 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 on 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, 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 it’s 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, and where you will most likely bump in to Jesus. Seriously, Jesus. Just ask around.
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, 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.