What to do in LA is a big question because there is SO much to do in LA. At the time of writing this I’ve been here for 6 months so I feel
Without further ado, firstly I’m going to give you the more obvious things to do in LA, then at the bottom of this post there will be some, perhaps more secret experiences for you to try.
Brilliant Touristy ‘things’ to do in LA:
If you’re here you’ve got to spend some time getting ‘touristy’ checking out the top tourist sites in Hollywood. A drive down Sunset Blvd (at sunset of course) is a fun one, walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame (cheesy yes, fun with friends – definitely), a trip to the Farmers Market shopping area on 3rd and Fairfax, the Chinese Theatre, enjoy an entertaining evening at the famous ArcLight movie theater, or even the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for an outdoor movie experience (yes, it’s in a cemetery), and a stroll down Melrose are all highlights of Hollywood.
2) Santa Monica
Head there in the evening for decent (high street) shopping, brilliant street musicians and a vibrant and safe area to walk (Third Street promenade). It’s a popular tourist destination, great for those things listed above and much more. If you want to get deeper into the Santa Monica experience I recommend you go to the beach in the day – that’s when much of the action takes place, especially if you like active beaches and then grab a bite to eat and enjoy the promenade early evening while the shops are still open.
3) Venice Beach
Venice Beach is a must. Find a sunny day and get yourself to Venice beach. If you’re English expect a more exciting, vibrant and ‘random’ Camden Town. If you’re Aussie expect a gritty version of Melbourne’s most gritty area. From another country? Just get stuck into Venice, it’s a unique place where you will have a fun and probably quite bizarre experience. Weekends are brilliant here, yes it’s a busy time, and that’s great because it’s the people and the atmosphere that makes Venice what it is. It’s certainly not the cleanliness of the sea, that’s for sure. Swimming is pretty safe, though the beaches are much better further north (see point 5).
4) Live Music – see a band play in LA
Check out www.TicketMaster.com or Google to find out if any of your favorite bands are playing in LA. Because many bands that are already BIG in Europe or Australia and the rest of the world come here to try and ‘make it’ in the USA you can often see your favorite band playing an intimate gig in LA. (Years ago I was fortunate enough to see the Stereophonics with around 400 people when they were MASSIVE in England).
If you want lots of people, shops and cafes head to Venice or Santa Monica. Venice is more ‘gritty’ Santa Monica a little more ‘posh’. Santa Monica beach is slightly cleaner than Venice (the two most famous beaches in LA) though neither will win awards for their cleanliness. Go there more for the ‘vibe’, shopping and random experiences rather than a beach and swimming day. The cleaner and more peaceful beaches are north of Malibu. Get in your car and drive. A bonus is that the drive is stunning! I mean really beautiful. You’re going to find some quaint little surf towns and more of nature as you head up the coast I went about an hour north of Malibu and saw 3 dolphins swimming right next to me – priceless. Head south, you’ve got Hermosa and even further still you will find a slightly different experience at each beach you visit. My advice here is explore!
6) Attraction parks / theme parks in LA
If it’s your first time here, in my humble opinion I think it would be a crime not to visit at least one attraction park because in USA they make them BIG. Universal Studios is all about movies and the movie industry, Six Flags is for ‘extreme’ rides / water park, Disney’s California Adventure is for the kids, Disney Land you already know (it’s awesome at being Disney Land), Sea World (Marine life) and Lego Land (…Lego).
The more secret ‘things to do in LA’
Context is a beautiful thing. It gives more meaning to advise or tips, don’t you think? With that in mind I’m going to give you some context to the following things I recommend you do / try in LA; I am often described as a creative, un-diagnosed ADHD ‘victim’, drummer, foodie, health freak, gym rat, vagabond or wanderer (trotamundo en Espanol), social entrepreneur (they said it, not me) among other things. And now for the information you have been searching for:
Graffiti tours can be fun
Unlike the movie stars homes tour, you actually get to see something right there in front of your eyes (rather than a closed gate of a house that could and probably does belong to anyone). Watch the movie ‘Exit Through Gift Shop’ (the Banksy movie) before or after the graffiti tour to add more depth to your experience.
Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice Beach, LA
You’re going to find amazing restaurants, high quality cafes and boutique shopping. I love this street because of the food. It’s kind of pricey for LA, pricey with the quality you’d expect from the prices. I highly recommend you check ‘Local 1205’ for the best juice on Abbot Kinney (perhaps in Venice) and Intelligentsia for a high quality coffee.
This area of LA is known for being the place where the ‘hipsters’ hang out. And you know what you will find where ‘hipsters’ hang out? Amazing restaurants, great coffee / cafes and arty people. Check it out if any of the above stick a positive chord with you.
If you’re a musicians you MUST go and have a play around in ‘Guitar Centre’ on Sunset Blvd and then check out all of the other music shops on the same block. Inspiring stores with knowledgeable staff and inspiring equipment!
Like to train and need a gym in LA?
For great people, training quality and Muay Thai check out Function 5 Fitness and The Yard, for great classes and a Hollywood feel go to ‘Crunch’ gym, for a ‘does what it says on the tin’ gym 24 hour fitness and LA fitness fit the bill, there are LOADS of CrossFit boxes here too (Google it) and Pilates and yoga on pretty much every street! ‘Yoga Works’ have decent instructors and are easily accessible (sorry to the other awesome yoga places, I’m yet to visit).
Markets in LA
Melrose Trading Post is the world famous flee market on Melrose and Fairfax. If you like flee markets you’re going to LOVE this. It’s a brilliant flee market, need I say more? Oh, and I saw Posh Spice there once.
Farmers Markets in LA
These are the farmers markets that I have visited and can recommend to you in LA:
- Larchmont Village (Larchmont blvd and Beverly, Sunday 8am to 2pm)
- Plummer Park in West Hollywood Vista and Fountain (Monday 9am to 2pm). Get there early to get the best pick!
Chataeu Marmont for dinner
It’s a stunning building and the food is very good (not outstanding, but very good). Kind of tricky getting in, though if you know someone that knows someone that knows someone then you might be able to get a reservation. If it floats your boat you will probably see a celebrity or two in there too (they’re just people you know…)
Want more of ‘what to do in LA’?
I will keep updating this as I find more for you guys and girls. I’m living in LA at the moment… Want to know how an English guy gets to live in LA? Check http://www.nextstoplax.com/ for information on American Visas and for info on working in the USA.