Los Angeles is a very controversial place. You either love it or hate it.
People from the East Coast, for the most part, tend to hate it. But some folks from other parts of the country love it. As with any other major city in the world, there are pretty common stereotypes that go along with it too. Although I’m not an LA native myself, I’ve heard it all, even before I got here. Things like,” LA people are vapid”, or “they are too flaky” and my favorite one “everyone here wants to be a star”. Yes, some of that might be true, but some are just based on unfounded rumors.
One of the — not-so-good things — LA is most famous for, is for its traffic. It’s true. We have the worst traffic in the country. LA is a driving city, so it’s not such a shocker that traffic is a problem. Some folks might be put off by that though. In fact, a lot of Angelenos do too. But hey. You’ve got to take the bad with the good, right?
Don’t worry. We have plenty of amazing things that make up for it. Nice weather all year long, great outdoor activities, the best Mexican food, nice beaches, great nightlife and one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, just to mention a few.
Like many other transplants who live here, it took me some time to get used to the city. After all, I moved here from San Diego. It was a drastic change moving from a sleepy surfer town to a big city. But I’m happy I did.
What makes LA so unique is the fact that is has a very rich and diverse culture. Every neighborhood has its own distinct character. Some places can be gritty and urban-like, while others can be glamourous and glitzy, and still, others can have a relaxed and laid-back California surfer vibe. In short, there is a little bit of everything for everyone.
If you are curious about LA or thinking about visiting it on your next vacation, I gathered a list of my favorite places for you to check out:
1. Fig Restaurant
Located inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, it’s hands down the best Happy Hour on the West Side of the city. Everyday from 5 pm-6 pm the restaurant has a special called “Fig at 5”, where you can order from their fancy menu and everything is 50 percent off. The Fairmont is a quick walk away from the Santa Monica Pier right along Ocean Ave. I definitely recommend going there for a happy-hour to catch the sunset later. Did I mention already that California has the best sunsets?
2. Malibu Farm
Trust me. You won’t regret this one. Why? Well for starters, the food is fresh and amazing, the atmosphere is phenomenal, and the views are breathtaking. I always bring people from out of town to this spot and they’re always pleased, and as a host, I get a lot of compliments as well. You can easily spend a couple of hours here and it’s a great place for pictures. After lunch, you can saunter around the Malibu Country Mart or take a garden tour of the Getty Villa.
3. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
This is something you don’t get to do in other places as often, but outdoor movies are kind of an LA thing. Because the experience is so much fun, the movies sell out quickly, many times weeks in advance, so you really need to plan ahead for this one. The cemetery vibe is not especially eerie unless that kind of thing really creeps you out. You can also drink alcoholic beverages here which is a big plus, something you don’t get to do often especially in open-air places.
4. Urth Café
Urth Café is a great choice if you’re a coffee lover. They have all kinds of organic coffee by their own brand, from all the regions of the world and the pastries are amazing too. Lots of options here if you are on a grain-free diet too, or if you’re vegan. The atmosphere is very nice and they have many locations throughout the city, so you don’t need to go to a particular neighborhood just for the coffee.
Outdoor Beach Activity
5. 26-mile Bike Path:
While it might seem like a lot, obviously you don’t need to do the whole path. The best part of the bike path is the 2.5 mile stretch between Santa Monica and Venice Boardwalk — two very famous beaches in LA. You can either rent a bike, a segway, rollerblades or just walk along the path. It’s a must-do as a tourist but locals enjoy this just as much.
6. Runyon Canyon Park
People in LA love doing outdoor activities and hiking seems to be the favorite one. There are tons of hiking trails in and around the city, each with a particular vibe, but if it’s your first time, I recommend the Runyon Canyon Park. Located in Hollywood on the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and near the Hollywood sign, it can get crowded, but the amazing views are well worth it. After hiking, going the Hollywood sign to get that iconic picture is another option since it’s located nearby.
7. The Broad Museum
This is a favorite by locals with its distinctive design and filled with contemporary art. Located right in downtown LA, the museum is home to 2,000 works of art, which is among the most prominent holdings of artwork of its kind. One particular part of the museum has been very popular lately for its Insta-Friendly environment: The infinity Mirrored Room.
8. Topanga PCH to the 10 West
Sunset Strip from Beverly Hills into West Hollywood
As I mentioned before, Los Angeles is a driving city. And as such, driving is the best way of getting to know the city. If you’re visiting and have a driver’s license, I highly recommend getting a rental car. The drive with your windows down in the amazing weather is a lot of fun and a must-do while you’re in LA.
9. The Perch in Downtown LA
LA has many incredible rooftop bars, and I’ve been to quite a few, although most of them are amazing, I always end up going back to the Perch. It’s a charming bar/restaurant located in downtown LA, and in my opinion, has the best drinks and the best views in town.
10. The Grove
The Grove is an open-air mall attached to the original Farmer’s market in LA, and it’s my favorite place, even before I moved here. There are a variety of different restaurants and all kinds of ethnic food imaginable. The shopping mall has about 50 top-brand stores and it’s a great spot for shopping or to just walk around.
I had to think really long and hard to come up with a condensed list of my favorite places because there is so much more to see and do. This was meant to be a quick guide. If you are in LA for a short visit or if it’s your first time here, this will definitely ensure you’ll have an authentic LA experience. As always, if you enjoyed it, don’t forget to share it on social media.