While Los Angeles is already in our rear view mirror, I thought that my 10 years and his lifetime of experience living in this city would help another adventurous soul (or newcomer!) navigate it as a potential vacation spot. After all, there is a reason that this city is so big and crowded – there is really no excuse to be bored! Here are 5 must-see places to visit in LA.
This is such a cute little pocket of LA. With great food, beautiful beaches, and cute boutiques lining the streets, you really can’t go wrong.
We have spent many a Saturday afternoon strolling down Manhattan Beach Blvd., either on our way to the sand from Manhattan Beach Creamery, or heading to MB Post for dinner (cheddar bacon biscuits are a must). There is even a cute little aquarium at the end of the pier, which is free of charge.
If it’s warm out and you’re looking to spend a day on the sand, I definitely recommend this beach over more iconic Santa Monica or Venice, as it’s a bit cleaner and less crowded. On the other hand, let’s face it, with a population approaching 4 million people, any beach in Los Angeles is going to be crowded in the summer!
Only after visiting the Observatory can you truly appreciate how massive and spread out LA really is.
Temescal Canyon is a beautiful hiking trail, nestled alongside the Pacific Coast Highway, about halfway between West LA/Santa Monica and Malibu.
This can be a challenging hike for amateurs, although there are various paths to take, with adequate signage to inform you as to which direction yields the longest trail.
It’s all worth it once you reach the top – this hike is close to the water, so you’ll have mostly beautiful ocean views of Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Malibu coasts on one side, and a distant view of greater Los Angeles, downtown, etc. on the other.
Parking is available for a fee ($7 last I visited) just past the entrance, but you may be able to score street parking on Sunset Blvd. or various side streets. Like everywhere else in LA, make sure to read the parking signs!
Downtown Los Angeles
Los Angeles is truly a melting pot of different cultures, and you can meet people from all walks of life on every street corner. Nowhere in the city is this more apparent than Downtown LA.
People congregate here to buy wholesale goods, to patronize fine dining establishments, for business meetings, and of course, to party. Be careful in the heart of downtown though, because one wrong turn could lead you from an unsuspecting city block lined with hip boutiques and restaurants to the beginnings of skid row, a small pocket of downtown which is notorious for concentrated criminal activity. Not a place to stumble upon by accident! Be aware of your surroundings, and you’ll be fine.
Also, before your visit, be sure to check for any events of interest at the convention center. This venue is home to various annual events such as the LA Auto Show, HempCon, AdultCon, the Yoga Expo, and even live auditions for shows like America’s Got Talent.
Also worth a visit in downtown Los Angeles is the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers, which also serves as a concert venue. Grab a drink and/or a bite to eat at the Staples Center’s partner in crime, LA Live.
Most people in LA are well aware of culturally focused areas like Koreatown, Chinatown, Thai Town, and Little Ethiopia, and could recommend at least one restaurant within each region.
However, the stretch of Sawtelle Blvd. in West L.A. known as “Little Osaka” has more recently joined the ranks as a hot spot for Asian (primarily Japanese) food and culture. Within just a few blocks’ radius, there are so many options!
Curry House, Ramen, Pho, multiple revolving sushi bars, a Japanese market, Boba (sweet drink with “tapioca balls”) cafes, and countless other thriving businesses dot this busy pocket of West LA – a trendy little spot for nearby residents to patronize for an evening without having to suffer through too much rush hour traffic!
Although this is quite literally on the beaten path, it is a must-see for out-of-towners.
If you park on the street just outside the Griffith Park entrance and trek up the hill to the observatory, it can be a nice, scenic hike as well.
The observatory offers the best 360 degree views of Los Angeles – from the top, you can see everything from Santa Monica, to downtown LA, to the Hollywood sign and beyond. There are telescopes available, and even a planetarium, which hosts multiple showings throughout the day.
The best time to visit is definitely shortly before sunset – this way, you can get a nice bird’s eye view of the city in the light of day and then, once the sun has set, the city lights up so bright that you can barely make out the stars above you.
For further information on these attractions or for additional ideas, feel free to message me at our Contact Us page!