What should I do/see in Los Angeles?

I’m going down to LA to visit friends and they asked what I want to see while I’m there. I don’t know much about LA and when I tried looking for tourist stuff online I mostly found the standard Hollywood and Disney tourist traps, which I’m not really interested in. So help me out Dopers. Where should I go? What should I see? Inexpensive ideas are especially appreciated.

Depends on what you want to see.

Museums: The Getty (free admission, pay for parking), Los Angeles County Museum of Art–a great museum BUT is in the process of remodelling so different exhibits are closed at different times.

Unfortunately, the Griffith Observatory is closed for remodelling, too. You may be able to get up there to see it, but you can’t go inside. You get a good view of the Hollywood sign from there, too.

Venice Beach is fun for people watching, as is Santa Monica 3rd Street Prominade/Pier.

Olivera Street (in downtown, the “origin” of Los Angeles) is sorta neat, with good Mexican food at La Golandrina.

It would help to know what things you like to do to get a better idea of what would be interesting for you.

There’s lots of hiking and such in the Angeles Forest and such places. Again, what are you interested in? More than just about any other city on the planet, LA has just about everything you could want to do nearby.

I like outdoor stuff like hiking. Can you recomment and particular trails? I like museums, especially science or nature ones. Does LA have a good zoo? I like good restaurants that aren’t insanely expensive. I like pretty much all kinds of “ethnic food” though I’m expecially fond of Asian. Basically I’m looking for other peoples’ favorites because I wanted to go interesting places while hopefully avoiding the standard tourist traps.

Santa Monica is way cool, even though it’s a little touristy. Hate touristy? Stay away from Hollywood altogether. You’ll have to go to an In-'N-out Burger while you’re there or on your way down if driving.

Last I recall the Angeles National forrest was closed until the rains return and the fire danger goes down. There is plenty of hiking, however in the Santa Monica Mountains and Griffith Park.

Hard to go wrong with the Santa Monica Pier. Especially at night.

And don’t miss the LaBrea tar pits on Wilshire.

Go on the subway. SOMEBODY has to use it occassionally.

If you like hiking, you should head to the Santa Monica Mountains since they have the advantage of not being burned up. And you can also hit the beach at the same time.

L.A.'s zoo is not worth the trip. It’s had a lot of problems over the years with funding and management. They just can’t seem to get their act together.

As for museums, if you like science museums there are two next to each other in the Exposition Park area (across the street from USC), the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center (formerly the Museum of Science and Industry).

The former has two special exhibits right now, one is a travelling exhibit from Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame, and the other is about dogs. The other science museum has an IMAX theater and has been spiffed up a lot recently.

I would stay away from Hollywood unless you are extremely curious. Remember there is “Hollywood”, aka The Film Industry, which is all over town, and Hollywood, the gross neighborhood, although it has been doing a bit better lately.

Alternatively, get to the airport, get into a cab and ask the driver to take you on a tour of the following cities: Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, and South Gate.

That would be different.

What’s the weather like in January? Can you hike in January? What else is there to do in January?

Also how hard is it to get around via public transport/walking?

Crud! I swear I replied to this post this morning!

Weather in January: probably 50-60s at night, 60-70s during the day in LA city. Best to bring a jacket and layers if you’ll be going to the forest/mountains/higher altitude for hiking. Very rare chance of rain. Probably partly cloudy and cool for the most part.

Transportation: I’m not familiar with mass transit (maybe because it’s crap, maybe because I’ve had a car always), but it’s certainly not on par with DC/NY/etc subway systems. Walking is almost essentially out of the question, as many sights and cities people have referred to above are many miles apart. LA city [and moreso LA county] is HUGE and a car is really the best way to go.

You can definitely hike in January, and it’s a lot warmer in L.A. than Chicago, but you’ll still want to have at least a light sweater or sweatshirt that you can tie around your waist in case you need it. This is especially true if you’re going to spend time in Santa Monica and other beach areas. It’s almost always significantly cooler within three miles of the beach than elsewhere.

The zoo is OK, but not nearly as good as San Diego’s.

There are some excellent hiking trails near the beach, beyond Malibu. Actually I think they’re over the line in Ventura County.

Catalina Island (“26 Miles Out to Sea”) is a great place. Fabulous. I think it should be OK in the Winter, since it’s kinda like a little bit of L.A. broke away and floated out 26 miles in the ocean. Make sure to see the historic Casino while you’re there. (It’s not really a Casino, as in Las Vegas, but it’s beautiful and you have to take the tour inside. This page has some great pictures of the Casino and other spots around Catalina. I believe there is some hiking around Catalina, and there are even buffalos! (Really!)

If you do decide to go to Catalina, make sure you take the “good” boats out there (Catalina Express). Apparently the cheap boat rides take too long, and are two rough—you’re more apt to get seasick (and it takes too long to get there!). I sometimes have a queasy stomach, but I never had any trouble with Catalina Express, and the ride is about 50 minutes (from San Pedro, I think) each way, which is pretty good.

There’s a lot more to L.A., but others have covered a lot of that. However, I must also give you my obligatory speech about how Yosemite National Park is only 5 1/2 hours away. If you can get away, it is SO WORTH IT to go there.

Also, Brand Library in Glendale is a nice place to visit, and there’s a lot more. Santa Barabara is a few hours North, and it’s lovely too. Or, San Diego—just two hours away (depending on traffic).

Four words:

The Price is Right

Grew up in L.A., right near the San Franando Mission. I’d recommend a visit to the mission for anyone spending time in the Valley.

Universal Studios is fun, as are the other amusement parks, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’d second the suggestion for a trip to the tar pits, as well as the L.A. County Museum a short distance away. Drive and gawk through Beverly Hills.

don’t worry–you won’t be bored. Enjoy your visit!

As for January weather, it is actually the second rainiest month on average. Granted the average is 3.33 inches per month, but it’s an average.

If it does rain, it will likely rain really, really hard and you won’t like it. It’s “go build an ark” sort of rain when it happens.

And you get thunderstroms in the wintertime, which is unusual to those who don’t live in Southern California.

Go to 5th and San Pedro, in a sturdy car, to reinforce why you live where you do and make it seem all the more special when you get home.

Cruise East LA and pick a hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican joint and have some of the best food you will ever have. It will be very inexpensive also, but far from “cheap”.

Log onto to “ogrish” dot com (no link, nasty business) and check out the murder gallery, then drive around and look at all the cool neighborhoods and little bungalos where these grisly deaths went down. I’ll bet none of the neighbors know a thing…

Get robbed in South Central. Really. Just pump gas with a fake wallet in your pants. After a while, someone will make a play for it. I got mine at the Arco near Adams and Hoover. Little punk didn’t get a cent, but I lost the favorite picture of an old girlfriend.

Go to Tommy’s (somewhere up around Silverlake? I don’t remember the actual intersection, cause I alwaly went there under the advise of the last word) at 3 AM and order a burger. Worth every penny. Go Drunk.

Go check out the remains of the Saint Francis Dam and the Ruiz family cemetary. (Up round Castaic, Ventura, Newhall) Sad story, neat place.

Go see 4 Heisman trophys in Heritage Hall, campus of USC. One of them had a knife stuck in its hand as a “gag”. Photos are often talked about, seldem seen. (unless you party in my garage)

“Bargain Slut” on Melrose is good for a laugh, too.

You Walrus hurt the ones you love!

Things to do in El-Lay:
-must go to see HUNTINGTON GARDENS (near Pasadena): the best Japanese garden you will ever see. The desert garden is awsome
-Venice Beach: have breakfast on the beach bike/walk path: ogle the female body builders (if its hot they usually wear string bikinis)!
-Tour the UCLA campus: nice places to stroll
-eat prime rib at LAWRY’s restaurant: bizarre salad ritual, prime rib delivered to your table by buxom waitresses pushing what appear to be armored serving carts
-Olvera street: good souvenirs, good/cheap mexican food
-(Downtown LA): ride the “Angel’s Flight” elevator (is it still 25 cents?
-Malibu Beach: (only if hot and sunny): thong bikini-clad vixens (albeit with mean boyfriends-do NOT take pictures!)

Isn’t the Angel’s Flight (sadly) shut down, as a result of that tragic accident a year or two ago? Or have they reopened it now?