What to Do and See in LA?

I’m going to be in the City of Angels for a few days next week because of a wedding and because Dopers always have great suggestions I have to ask: what should I do and/or see while I’m there?

Unfortunately my impression of LA is a bit of a wasteland where if it wasn’t for the movie industry there wouldn’t be anything interesting to say about the city. I’ve got a few things on my list of things to see and do but it’s not enough. Throw suggestions out to me! What’s worth it? What isn’t? What shouldn’t be missed?

Ye Olde King’s Head on 2nd and Santa Monica

Venice Beach. (Look for Harry Perry, the roller-skating, guitar-playing Rasta.)

House of Blues, Whisky a Go-Go, The Troubadour, and other places on Sunset. (Actually, the Troub’ is on Santa Monica; but close enough.)

La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum

The Getty

Oh, LA’s got plenty to see; it’s full of interesting people and things. I’ve been dying to get to see the Getty myself, but I’m rarely at that end of the state.

What sort of things do you like to do? It would help narrow things down.

If you like art museums LACMA is regarded as the best and most comprehensive in the area. The others are strong in particular areas, the Getty Villa in antiquities for example. The Getty Center and Getty Villa are miles apart and will require two visits on two days, BTW.

The Natural HIstory Museum is the premier institution of its type in the western U.S. I saw the Field Museum in Chicago and didn’t think it was any better. The gem and mineral exhibit is outstanding.

For Mexican food try La Golondrina on Olvera Street.

Take a day trip down to the San Diego Zoo. You can park at Union Station and take Amtrak for this, and some parts of the train ride are very scenic once you get out the industrial sections of L.A. and Orange Counties. Once you get to San Diego the Zoo is only a short bus or taxi ride away, and there are other things to see in the immediate vicinity of the San Diego Amtrak station.

If you’re just going to do ONE THING in L.A., I’d recommend the Getty too. It’s a beautiful building in an amazing location filled with lovely art.

In addition to what other people have mentioned, the Aquarium of the Pacific is excellent.

The Santa Monica Pier is good for a few hours of fun. It has amusement park rides, including a ferris wheel with great views of the ocean, an antique carousel, and an old-style arcade with skeeball.

There’s also the Petersen Automotive Museum. I found it fascinating and I’m not even a car buff. And it’s right across the street from LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits.

Father’s Office is a must if you’re interested in beer at all.

LA County Arboretum, if you’re into trees and walking
Griffith Observatory
Catalina Island (hiking and stuff, and I’m sure you can scuba or get one of those glass-bottom boat rides)

If you’re interested in exploring foods, there are a variety of ethnic neighborhoods gathered around the downtown area. It’s one of the best places in the country to try authentic Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc… food at low prices.

The Norton Simon Museum isn’t bad. You can see Rodan’s “The Thinker” on the front lawn.

Go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for breakfast. See a play at the Ahmanson (Spamalot is playing now).
Take “staircase” walking tour of Silverlake and Echo Park for exercise.

Take pictures of the “David House”… its well worth it.

If you’re that kind of geek, the Huntington Library and gardens are quite nice. For a different kind of geek, the Petersen Automotive Museum.

If you are willing to drive to Orange County, Disneyland is fun and the Bowers Museum is pretty cool.

If they are playing anything you like, I would definitely recommend The Hollywood Bowl. It’s a great place to catch classical music or jazz, and I even see some Raggae on their schedule.

And if you like the more off-beat The Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Venice Canals. It’s a hidden gem in LA. Even a lot of locals don’t know about it. Every house there is so unique and has its own personality. Very picturesque, serene, and whimsical.

In another thread today I suggested:
The Original Tommys Chiliburgers, the Original Pantry Cafe
877 South Figueroa Street, http://www.pantrycafe.com/
Clifton’s Cafeteria, Philippe’s French Dip Restaurant (where the sandwich was born, or was it Coles? also a good choice), or the famous Pinks hot dogs.

All of which are historical, serve moderately priced tasty food, and are in or near downtown. You can scarf a Pinks or eat a great steak at the Original Pantry.

Trust me, dude- try one of those. It will make your trip more of an experience than simply grabbing some cheap fast food.

As for Vinice, there’s also the Beach. Warning, Venice is a high crime zone- not all that dangerous, afaik, but the chance of a property crime is not small.

I second:

Hollywood, The Getty, the Tar Pits (a nice museum, worth at least a half day)

One of my favorite Best of Craigslist The Greatness of LA

I’ve been in LA over 6 years and still haven’t done most of these things. My recommendation would be to hit up Rinaldis in El Segundo. Amazing sandwiches.

I’ve always wanted to eat authentic Koreans.

Taste like chicken.

I second the Venice Canals recommendation. I saw them for the first time a few weeks ago, and immediately dreamed of winning the lottery so i could afford a house on the canal.

I’m also a huge fan of the Getty. Between the exhibitions and the gardens, you can spend a whole day up there easily. Take a book, lie on the grass, and have some lunch. Very civilized.

I was also going to suggest, if you’re a baseball fan, going to a Dodgers game, but they’re on a road trip next week.

I was trying to avoid that since I kind of was fishing for things that I had not even considered. Yeah, there’s some things mentioned in this thread that I already had penciled in on my itinerary and some things that aren’t to my taste but there’s lots of things that I had not even considered.

So thanks for everything so far and keep them coming. And I might as well get a little more specific. I moved from a major city to the middle of nowhere about three years ago and one of the things I miss the most is decent ethnic food. I went from a place where I had my pick of of just about every kind of food I’d want to a place where Itallian food is exotic and Chinese food only comes in buffets. So one of the things I’m going to do while I’m out there is hit as many different kinds of restaurants as I can. So suggestions there will be very helpful.

But keep any suggestions coming.

Stuff I did this past April~

Aimee Semple MacPherson’s parsonage, now the Foursquare Heritage Museum.
Crystal Cathedral.
Cole’s French Dip.
Phillippe’s French Dip.
Esotourica- Saturday afternoon tours- Raymond Chandler one week, The Black Dahlia the next
L.A. Opera (I saw Der Walkure w/ Placido Domingo)
Pantages Theatre (I saw Mamma Mia!)
Universal CityWalk outside Universal Studios
Dodgers game (Friday night has fireworks after!)

Which did you like better?