I’m going to be in LA soon with my parents and fiance. What should we not miss? I haven’t been since I was a little kid, but I don’t really feel the need to see, you know, the Hollywood sign again. My folks will probably want to take a city tour, which is always fairly interesting, but we’ll have at least two afternoons free.
The list is long, so you’re going to get a bunch of personal favorites.
Here are some of mine:
Tar Pits and LA County Natural History Museum
Huntington Library and Gardens
Seal Beach Boardwalk
If you like art at all, I’d recommend a visit to one of The Getty Museums.
Where are you staying? If you only have a couple of afternoons you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time driving.
Where in LA? The first thing to understand about touring “LA” is the enormous urban blob that can be considered “LA.” Some people think of LA as everything in the triangle between Ventura, San Bernardino, and Camp Pendleton. That’s huge. Even limiting your self to the LA Basin is huge.
Stay local to your location as much as possible and don’t try to see Universal Studios and Disneyland in the same weekend. Traffic will eat you alive. I know Google Maps says that is a 46 minute trip one way, but in reality, you could be looking and two hours one way.
I’m a fool for all museums & loved the Tar Pits.
When I visited, the whole Getty collection was shoehorned into the Villa. As impressive as the new Getty appears, I’d almost prefer to return to that lovely classical building overlooking the sea…
The Autry is far more than a cowboy museum; maybe your parents would like to see that one, too!
How about a shopping trip–for a bit of browsing through the little shops, cafes & restaurants in this year’s hip neighborhood? (Angelenos, please provide updates!)
La Luz de Jesus is great for weird art but The Soap Plant appears to be closed until March…
Never made it to The Museum of Jurassic Technology–in Venice, which might be worth a stroll…
We’ll be staying in Culver City.
If you want to walk around outside (near merchants)…
Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier
Olvera Street (where LA began)
Santa Monica Third Street Promenade
Captain Dave’s Dolphins!
I’ll second the Getty, La Brea Tar Pits, Natural History Museum, and add LACMA if you’re into art. LACMA has a pretty decent collection and the visiting shows are usually impressive.
The Getty is actually two different places, Getty Villa, which requires a reservation, and the Getty, which doesn’t. Getty Villa has the classical antiquities and art while the Getty has a broader range of collections. Both are free, but requires a parking fee per car.
The Tar Pits is right next to LACMA and they’re both right next to Fairfax, which is home to Little Ethiopia, a collection of Ethiopian restaurants and stores. Further up Fairfax is Canter’s Deli, home of huge pastrami sandwiches. On the same block, there’s Animal, a restaurant that makes innovative meaty dishes, and Golden State, a gastropub with a good selection of Californian beer.
The Santa Monica Farmer’s market runs Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I think one of the Saturday markets is right at 3rd St. Promenade so if you’re interested you can get some fruit, cheese, and clothes shopping done all in one go.
Also in Santa Monica is Father’s Office, one of my favorite places to grab a drink and a burger. The bartenders know how to mix a drink and their burgers (no substitutions) are delicious.
The Museum of Jurrasic Technology is eccentric. When I was there, it felt like the Fortean Times regurgitated all over some non-descript building in Venice. It’s not a big museum and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there, it’s quirky fun if you’re in the area.
You can also catch a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall or see a play at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion/Taper Forum/Ahmanson Theater. Both of these are downtown, so it’ll be a 30minute to 1 hour drive from Culver City depending on traffic. Walt Disney Concert Hall is also next to the Museum of Contemporary Arts.
I really like the Norton Simon Museum.
Another vote for The Museum of Jurassic Technology. A truly awesome and bizarre place. Last time I was there, they had an exhibit of portraits of Russian Space Dogs.
Go to San Diego.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles.
Yes, I say that in every LA thread. Yes, I feel that strongly about it.
One of the great things about LA is all the affordable food places we have. One such place is Zankou Chicken. Ideally, get some chicken and drive up to the Griffith Observatory! Much your chicken in the parking lot with the million dollar view, and then check out the place. The Observatory has just been remodeled and is awesome. If you want some exercise, you can hike up to the top of Griffith Park, the trailhead starts at the back of the parking lot.
If you are a pastrami fan, Langer’s has the best on earth. You can get to Langer’s on the Red Line Subway, another thing worth seeing, especially if you are a transit buff. Exit the subway at the Westlake/MacArthur Park station.
You can also stop at Pink’s if you are in the mood for hot dogs. The chili dog is famous, but I love the Chicago Polish. Not really an authentic Chicago Polish, but awesome nonetheless. Only order the spicy if you can tolerate very hot food. I can pretty much drink Tabasco Sauce, but find the spicy polish a little much.
If you do go to Olvera Street, be sure to cross Alameda and go into Union Station. It is just spectacular, inside and out. I would steer clear of the food in Olvera Street, it is bad and expensive. If you are in that area, better to go to Philippe’s close by.
If you insist on Mexican, my favorite is a place called Marielas Tacos on 3rd Street, just west of Vermont. It is a hispanic neighborhood, but I used to live right across the street and it is not a dangerous place at all. I linked to an image of a taco platter, but I recommend the Carne Asada Plato. They have a red sauce (rojo) there that is out of this world.
Yeah, I know I have mentioned a lot of food! LA is a great food city.
Another thing you can do is take the bus tour. It goes in a loop and hits a lot of the high points while giving you a spiel. You can get off at various stops along the way, hang out, and then get on the next bus to continue your tour.
One stop is the Farmer’s Market, where, you guessed it, you will find even more food. Unfortunately, most of it is not commendable, and all of it is overpriced. Best bet there is the crepe stand. Do NOT eat at Dupar’s! Bleccch! There is a greek place just outside the market there that is pretty good though, Ulysses Voyage, but it is a full dinner place with prices to match. If you are from Chicago, you will not be too impressed with it. The bus also goes by Pink’s. Anyway, short of me being your guide, that is a pretty good way to see some of the highlights!
Another place a lot of people enjoy is the Venice Beach boardwalk. There are shops and restaurants, but the highlight is the street performers and artists. It is a very unique and fun experience. You can stroll up and down, go out and watch the surfers, or just sit in a bar, listen to some live music, drink beer and watch the show pass by.
Hope you have a great time! I love LA and am really proud of our great town. Let us know how you did when you get back!
I don’t even eat meat, and I went there with the folks who were going. It’s like having a chance to eat at the Soup Nazi’s place and not going; ya gotta go.
The buckwheat waffle is awesome, btw. So’s the cornbread.
Oh, and I gotta add in one more, Yuca’s. Their carne asada tacos are fine, but what you want here is the conchinita pibil burrito. Just awesome! And in upscale Los Feliz, you might just see a celebrity!
As long as I have been here, I have never tried Roscoe’s. Gotta do that soon.
Whatever you do, do not eat at any national chain restaurant when here. If you must have a burger, go to In-N-Out or Original Tommy’s, or as someone upthread mentioned, Father’s Office, which I have not personally been to yet, but has a great rep.
I spent a month there doing the auto show back in '07 or '08. It was amazing to get out of the convention center at all, so when a bunch of guys said they were going, I jumped at the chance. I mean, I knew about Roscoe’s, but I’d have jumped even if they were going to a Pia Zadora-themed restaurant.
I ate at the Original Pantry Cafe a bunch tho, because it was between my hotel and the convention center. That place was a trip.