I’m back in Los Angeles for the 2011 L.A. Times Travel Show. Now, as you know, I’m no fan of Los Angeles. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. But, I keep coming back here because I have friends who live here and I’m never one to fully write off a city without giving it a chance.
I think Los Angeles is one of those cities you either love or hate until you live here and then you simply love it. Bangkok was like that for me. I hated the city for a long time but after moving there, I saw that there was more to it than traffic and pollution. I get the feeling L.A. is like that. My friends keep telling me that too. “Just live here for awhile,” they say, “you’ll see why L.A. is so great.”
One thing I do love about L.A. (and this is at odds with everyone who lives here) is the downtown area. There may not be much down here but when I’m here, I feel like I’m in a city. There’s high rises, buses, a train, lots of people, and some shops. It feels urban like a metropolis should. There’s a lot of potential here and it’s shame they aren’t really building the downtown up more. They should- it’s easy to get around. And maybe that is it. Maybe that’s what I hate about L.A. I love cities that are easy to get around. Even giant cities like New York, Tokyo, and Bangkok all have some sort of transportation system that doesn’t rely on a car. Los Angeles is not like that. You can’t walk around or take the metro anywhere. You need a car here. And I’m simply not a car guy.
But Los Angeles has a lot to do and, if you do have a way to get around, here’s some of my favorite activities to do here:
Sunset Boulevard: Perhaps one of the world’s most famous streets, it began as a route between the stars’ posh neighborhoods and the Hollywood studios. It runs from downtown to the ocean, passing through the “Sunset Strip” on its way. You’ll find a lot of high end stores, restaurants, and clubs here too. If anything, there are a lot of good venues to see music acts here.
Explore Santa Monica: Hollywood may be Hollywood but I loved Santa Monica even more. It’s right on the beach, there’s great restaurants, it’s a big less pretentious, and there’s cool bars there. Plus, the main drag here has a lot of great shopping.
Hollywood Boulevard: Hollywood Boulevard has recently being going through some urban renewal and renovation. You can stroll the The walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, pretend you met stars at Madame Tussauds, the Egyptian theater, and lots of good restaurants. Take some time to explore here. It’s worth it.
Celeb Spot at the Chateau Marmont: The Chateau Marmont is where all the celebrities come and hang out to do things we read about in TMZ the next day. Come down here, sit at the bar, and have an overpriced drink while you spot out the celebrities. Even if you don’t see any, the Chateau Marmont is one beautiful hotel to look at.
Universal Studios Hollywood: This famous studio offers tours of the studio plus a theme park for one package price. It’s the most famous place to take a studio tour but not your only option out there.
Tour the Star’s Homes: Sure, it’s super cheesy but there’s something fun about driving around and seeing where all the celebrities live. I mean it’s L.A. and part of the attraction of the city is all the famous movie stars, the glitz, the glamor. So be a super tourist and go see where Brad Pitt calls home!
Getty Museum: The Getty’s architecture is so beautiful that it keeps me fascinated. They have a great art exhibit but what I like the best are the sweeping views of the city and the building’s architecture. Visiting here was a highlight of my time in L.A.
Take a walk on the Beach: Los Angeles beaches are a great place to go for a walk, people-watching, or just lounging in the sun. Head down to Santa Monica or Venice beach for some of the best beaches in the area.
Griffith Park: This is the second largest park in the U.S, this place has a great place for hikes, picnics or hanging around with friends. The hiking trails lead up to Mulholland Drive, and provide great views of the city. Griffith park has many activities in it including the L.A. Zoo, the Autry western museum, pony rides, a golf course, driving range, and The (Space) Observatory.
L.A has no shortage of things to do. There’s so many people here from so many different places around the world that you also get a wide variety. I simply wish I didn’t have to get stuck in traffic to do them all. Everything is too spread out here! Yet the more I visit, the more appealing L.A. becomes. It’s still just a place to visit though. To me, the cities I love the most are the cities I would live in. L.A. still isn’t quite that city yet but it’s getting closer.