If you’re planning a vacation to Los Angeles, consider skipping the celebrity home tour and the Walk of Fame and experience LA like a local instead. This tourist trap-free list will get you started on a memorable trip to the City of Angels.
Skip the continental breakfast at your hotel and head to Daybreaker instead, a morning dance party that takes place early on a weekday morning and is popular amongst LA’s creative community as an alternative to pre-work coffee. Sign up at dybrkr.com to get the announcement for when and where the next event will be held, and make sure to pack your dancing shoes.
It might be a trope, but it’s also a necessity. To truly feel the local weekend buzz, seek out the nearby go-to spot for mimosas and eggs benedict. Wood Spoon in downtown provides Brazilian fare and sangrias in a spot that looks like your favorite great aunt’s house that she hasn’t updated since the 1970s. Get to Barbrix in Silver Lake if you want to snag a table and the $5 bottomless mimosas (and trust me, you do).
Leave Los Angeles with memories and a brand new skill, Lindy Hop. Dax and Sarah at the Lindy Loft will offer you a fun evening, from beginner group sessions, swing nights with a tutorial and live band or private lessons. Get in tune with classic swing tunes and take in the city from their window-filled downtown loft equipped with spring loaded wood floors.
The view from the Ace Hotel’s downtown location may be famous amongst the Instagram set, but it’s not the only charming rooftop accompanied by tasty drinks that make it so great. Perch also provides fabulous dining in a gorgeous atmosphere, make a reservation if you want to dine. When you enter the building at ground level, look for the bird icons to help direct your way.
While Melrose Avenue may be known for its vintage stores, there’s another game in town that’s perfect for your old school shopping needs. Long Beach’s 4th Street Retro Row offers everything you need for a fabulous afternoon in an easily walkable block. Start with coffee from Portfolio or a cold pressed juice at Salud, search through the 1950s treasure trove at Meow or the hipster gear at La Bomba, stop for a movie break at the Art Theatre, pick up some Long Beach gear at Port and end the evening with Mexican food at Lola’s or a drink from 4th & Vine.
Nestled in the hills of the Pacific Palisades there is a true gem of classic Hollywood history and outdoor recreation. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at Will Rogers State Historic Park, the site of the iconic star’s home. Take a tour of the house, enjoy a lounge on the sweeping lawn, hike to Inspiration Point for view of Malibu and the ocean or arrange for a horseback riding tour. For a special treat, attend a polo match. Watching half a dozen horses fly past you, with the feeling of their hooves thundering the soil, is something you won’t easily forget.
There are many, many places to shop in LA, but there isn’t an experience that can match Santee Alley. Found in the midst of the wild Fashion District, it’s a hotspot for shoppers looking for good deals on trendy items (particularly if you’re interested in fake designer goods). Make sure to bring cash, since many vendors do not accept credit cards. If you’re feeling hungry and brave, try one of the bacon-wrapped hot dogs topped with salsa from a curbside stand.
LA is known for its size and incredibly diverse neighborhoods, and there’s one you might miss but shouldn’t: Koreatown. Los Angeles has the largest population of Koreans outside of Seoul, which means you’re going to find some of the most authentic Asian food offerings around (and you want Korean barbeque, trust me). This neighborhood is also a rising star in the trendy drinking and late night eats scene; if you’re interested in a night out, this is your spot.
When the day starts to end, there’s nothing quite like starting up a beach bonfire and watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. Head to Dockweiler Beach early in the day (a necessity if you want to secure a bonfire ring) and enjoy an afternoon of waves and sunbeams. When dusk settles, bring out the wood, a little lighter fluid and some matches, and break out the hotdogs and marshmallows. Everything tastes better when cooked over an open fire.
Museums are a classic choice of most metropolitan vacation destinations, but for a new take on the old standard, ditch the regular operating hours. The Getty Museum hosts evening lectures for a low ticket price that offer a whole new experience. It is particularly lovely to visit the Villa on these evenings, since the galleries remain open after usual visiting hours, allowing you to wander through the antiquities without the crowds.