So far, the best thing about living in SoCal (Southern California) is when people visit, which they do with some frequency due to Nicest Weather Ever Syndrome, because then we get to go do fun things. Keep in mind, the weather is constantly amazing / perfect / drought-y, so outdoor activities are the major focus.
Here’s a partial and evolving list of thing to do / see / eat in the LA area for future visitors and / or interested travelers:
— LA is a 1 ish hour train ride away from us in the OC (don’t call it that), or a 1 ish hour drive away (depending on the ubiquitous traffic, which I kind of thought was just a thing that people said, but seriously, there are 4-story, 20-lane highways here and traffic dictates what I do and when).
— NP also recommends the Griffith Observatory.
— We haven’t been to the LaBrea Tar Pits yet, but my dad Will. Not. Shut. Up. About how great they are. (Other people think they are great, too.)
— There are wine tastings and breweries all around.
— Haven’t gone to any show tapings yet, but that is always an option (depending on schedules / availability / patience of people standing in line). If you’re lucky, you could win some money on The Price is Right like DJ!
— The Hop On, Hop Off tour is a reasonable way to see (a tiny percentage of) the city, and learn way more than you ever wanted to know about O.J. Simpson. Perks: someone else drives you around LA for not that much money. Cons: The ear buds that they provide you with suck. Also, you can really only hop off once or twice if you want to make it back to your car / destination within 24 hours, because LA is sprawlingly massively huge.
— The Getty and LACMA, or just cultural pursuits in general – there are museums and loads of shows, musicals, concerts, theaters, the Philharmonic, and other events, from comedy to impromptu jugglers in the road. I’d recommend using the magic of the internet to find out what’s going on while you’re in town because it changes so frequently.
— K-town. We haven’t been, but BH better take us there because he won’t shut up about how great the food is.
— Little Tokyo has a really fun book, anime, stationery shop.
— Chinatown has good food, sad turtles for sale, and neat nicknacks.
— WoodSpoon (on 9th Street) was an amazingly delicious find. (Thanks, AR!)
— Climb the secret staircases!
— We have not done much touristy stuff, like the Hollywood sign or anything, but I’ll update this list when we figure out the city a bit more.
— Venice Beach is supposed to be great for people watching (and there’s a bookstore there I’m hoping to check out – I’ll keep you posted).
— The Los Angeles Conservancy offers walking tours.
— Other stuff I found listed elsewhere: Runyon Canyon Park; Zuma Beach; Watts Towers Arts Center; La Tuna Canyon Park;
Saved By the Bell Topanga State Park; Malibu Bluffs Open Space; Hollywood Bowl; Farmers Market; Arclight; Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial; Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Have yet to check all of these out, but it’s my bucket list for when we have visitors (which seems to happen a lot), so I’ll add details when I get ’em.
Other Cool Nearby Spots to Visit
— Santa Monica has a nice pier, nice restaurants, and suspiciously cheap parking. ($5 for the entire day?!?!?!!?! [weekends only] Coming from Chicago, that is basically the equivalent of free to me.)
— The only thing I’ve done in Long Beach is the Monday happy hour (happy day?) at Congregation Ale House. It was nice because we sat outside in the ever-perfect weather and had a mini-IMSA reunion. Another town with suspiciously cheap parking.
— San Bernardino Mountains. Big Bear allegedly has skiing (when it snows!).
— Pasadena is a super fun, walkable town. Cafe Verde (appropriately enough, on Green Street) has a great brunch.
— For the research minded, the Huntington Library comes recommended. I’ve heard good things about the gardens, too.
— Claremont is also neat, and very walkable. I particularly enjoyed poking around the Books to Prisoners bookshop.
— The Donut Man in Glendora has a fantastic strawberry doughnut. (More like a personal strawberry cake / pie situation.) It is amazing. (Recommended / provided by EC.)
— We’re going to a tea house in Seal Cove, so I’ll let you know how that goes. (Good old LiveSocial coupons, introducing me to strange activities.)
— San Diego.