What Locals Love About LA (That You Will, Too)
For many, Los Angeles is synonymous with the beach and Hollywood. After all, this ocean-side city does have more than 100 films crews working every day.
But it’s so much more than that. In fact, there are 80 unique neighborhoods that sprawl across the city from Malibu down to Long Beach across to West Hollywood and Downtown.
And as longtime residents (and fans), we’re sharing some of our favorite aspects of local life, plus some deals to sweeten your LA getaway:
Getting high takes on new meaning here
Los Angeles offers a fresh spin on outdoor spaces, but you’ll have to look up to find them.
Downtown, you’ll find the nation’s highest rooftop bar on floor 73 at the Wilshire Grand and the state’s highest open-air observation at QUE Skyspace in the U.S. Bank Tower (where you’ll also find a glass-enclosed slide). Both buildings are listed among the top 10 tallest in the nation.
Our other favorite variations on the theme: The Disney Concert Hall has a free rooftop garden. Mama Shelter has rooftop foosball, movie screenings and DJ-fueled parties. Should we go on? Okay: At sunset, head over to the rooftop restaurants at Hotel Erwin or Hotel ShangriLa for some of the best unobstructed views of the Pacific.
Its art scene goes way beyond film
Los Angeles has more museums and theaters combined than any other U.S. city — more than 300 in fact. The granddaddy of the museum scene is LACMA, the largest art museum in the western US., where the collection spans the millennia (as befits a museum next door to the fossil-filled La Brea Tar Pits). Across town, you’ll find a new favorite: the Broad, home to an impressive contemporary collection that includes everyone from Basquiat to Cindy Sherman. Tickets are free and tend to go fast, but you can reserve them the first of the month at noon for the following month — or try the standby line.
Meanwhile, you can find the hottest theater tickets (yes, that includes Hamilton) at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, among others.
It rivals any mountain town for hiking
Between the 300 sunny days a year—and innumerable terrains and trails—LA is an urban hiking mecca. Griffith Park is a local (and celebrity) favorite with trails that lead to the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory—the most visited public observatory in the world. At nearby Runyon Canyon Park, you’ll find sweeping skyline views, an easy paved trail and daily free yoga at 10:30 am (though donations are welcome). And Malibu is well known for breathtaking ocean-view hikes: Try Temescal Canyon or Solstice Canyon.
There’s a 22-mile beach bike path
You can take in the LA beach scene’s greatest hits by bike…easily: The Marvin Braude Bike Trail (or The Strand), which connects the city’s main beaches from Will Rogers State Beach in Malibu to Torrance County Beach, is mostly flat and takes about two hours one way. Of course, that figure goes up if you explore the beach cities along the way (and you should).
So find the closet bike rental shop—there are plenty along the coast—and start the day off with breakfast at a beach cafe such as Back on the Beach Cafe or Perry’s. From there, bike to the Santa Monica Pier for a ride on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel before people-watching at Venice Beach’s famous Muscle Beach. Then it’s on to Marina del Rey, the largest yacht marina in the U.S. and down to the South Bay — the cute cluster of beach towns that includes Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
The food scene goes well beyond green juice
Yes, Angelenos do love their liquid kale, acai bowls and raw everything. But even more beloved are the local taco shops. They turn up everywhere and in every incarnation from food truck to small family-run joints to haute cocina with a view. The hardest choice you’ll have to make is whether you order al pastor, carne asada — or even a Korean taco (thank you, Roy Choi).
And though some can live by tacos alone, you should also check out the recently redone Grand Central Market , the 1917 downtown market now updated with amazing stalls. The food hall concept has also caught on elsewhere, with local favorites including Smorgasburg, an open-air Sunday market at the Alameda Produce Market, and SteelCraft, where food stalls are housed in repurposed shipping containers near the port of Long Beach.
And of course, there are the see-and-be-seen spots—several of which serve up food as good as the star sightings. Try the A5 Japanese Miyazaki Wagyu, cooked tableside on a hot stone, at Catch or go for the yellowtail shasimi with jalapeno and ocean views at Nobu Malibu.