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Travel Blog Series: Los Angeles, California

I’ve traveled the majority of my life and yet, I’ve never hated anything more than feeling like a tourist. Obviously, it’s inevitable – you can’t visit Washington DC without seeing the Mall or London without riding on the Eye or Cleveland without visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, I think there’s something to be said for trying the local (or at least more unknown) places.

So, that’s my mission to bring the local flavor of a city to your visit (which arguably should still include all the museums and sight-seeing you want). This week, with the help of Julia Waldow ’17, I’m focusing on Los Angeles, California.


1.     A car in Los Angeles is very helpful — there is public transportation (such as the Metro), but sometimes you want the freedom that only having a car can provide. But be warned: parking is limited and comparatively expensive. Also, the traffic is no joke.


2.     Do not jaywalk in Santa Monica. The fines are heavy and the police are everywhere.


3.     Julia recommends hiking, because LA and its surrounding area has such diverse scenery. She recommends Will Rogers State Park, Franklin Canyon and Runyon Canyon (where you can see the Hollywood sign up-close!).            


4.     Do not swim at the Santa Monica beach (it’s really polluted!), but do check out the pier. This pier is actually the ending point of Route 66, for all you American historians.


5.     Julia’s favorite beach is Manhattan Beach, which comes paired with a cute beach town filled with a variety of shops and restaurants. She also recommends attending and watching the International Surf Festival, which is held in August.


6.     Although Los Angeles doesn’t scream “museums” in the way that New York might, Julia highly recommends the Petersen Automotive Museum, with exhibits on everything from old cars to Lightening McQueen replicas.


7.     Visit the food trucks outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — they’re delicious and diverse! (Plus, might as well visit the museum while you’re there!)


8.     Hollywood Forever Cemetery screens “old” movies — anything from Marilyn Monroe to John Hughes — in an actual cemetery. Julia said, “every screening is jam-packed with people sharing sandwiches and bottles of wine… It’s one of my favorite events to take out-of-towners to, because they’re so unusual and fun.”  Sounds awesome!


9.     Visit one of LA’s multiple record stores! For the music enthusiasts and those with diverse music tastes, Julia recommends Amoeba Music, which also offers free shows every month. Rockaway Records (Julia’s other favorite), which specializes in used records, has a cozy storefront that is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.         


10.  Are you a professional ramen eater? Visit Sawtelle Boulevard for some quality noodles. Want a taco? Julia says the best ones come from food trucks downtown. Craving a sandwich? Nate N Al’s Deli in Beverly Hills is the place to be (Julia wants to remind you to get extra pickles). Feeling brunch-y? Go to the Griddle, where Julia says the pancakes are “literally the size of your head!”


11.  Go to a comedy show! Although there are LA off-shoots of Chicago and New York-based improv groups, The Groundlings and NerdMelt (part of Meltdown Comics) are excellent local groups. Julia recommends “Put Your Hands Together” at UCB Franklin on Tuesdays and “Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen” at the Virgil on Mondays. 


12.  Are you a bookworm? Then, LA is the place for you! There’s the Samuel French Bookstore, which offers readings & performances, The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles (Julia says not to miss the recycled book sculptures upstairs), the Iliad, which has a great selection of used books and Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard, where visiting authors and artists share their work. Happy reading!   


13.  Julia also recommends strolling through Grand Central Market, which brings together local vendors to celebrate the different cultures and cuisines of Los Angeles. 


14.  Go to Donut Friend, a favorite of students at Occidental College. It’s essentially the Subway of donuts, where you can pick toppings, icing and fillings (get the ice cream filling, trust me). Be warned though, these donuts can be a little pricey!


15.  Go to downtown Los Angeles! LA can be a bit confusing because there’s a lot of smaller cities smushed into one area and generally branded as Los Angeles. However, there’s lots to do in the proper downtown. For example, visit the Broad Museum, which houses an abundance of abstract and pop art, or head over to the Disney Hall, for a chance to hear the Philharmonic Orchestra.


If you love your hometown or have a city you’re particularly familiar with, and want to show tourists what the locals love, please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll happily sit down with you to work out an article that showcases your love for your city.


Image credits: Regan Hewitt, Notadamandsteve.com, greattodaynews.com, lamusicblog.com, amodernwayfarer.com 

English major, History minor, Diet Coke addict // senior at Kenyon College // Memphis native // please contact [email protected] for resume & full portfolio 
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