You might think the ‘city of angels’ is an uncommon choice for a trip, but don’t be fooled: LA is often misjudged! In reality, it is a unique paradox between Californian style and a dash of colourful WTF. It’s a place where everyone thinks they can live a dream and Uber drivers are opera singers. And newsflash: the “LA has no culture” thing is old news. Avoid the tourist traps (although: who doesn’t love a bit of clichés?!) and you’ll find a curious world of new and old, with art deco theatres, an avant-garde art scene and trails to climb. Here’s THE..
Climbing is a way of life
You will be surprised to discover that so many things cost a fortune in LA, including the outdoors: climbing is the latest thing.
The Backbone Trial at Santa Monica Mountain Range (67 miles long) recently opened and I highly recommend the Griffith Park Trail. It takes you to Griffith Observatory, from where you can see all of Hollywood lit up and discover things you didn’t know about stars and galaxies at the Planetarium until 10pm. If you’re not interested in climbing, many hostels offer free guided tours, or check out the Meet ups: there are new ones every day!
Creativity is a religion
California is known as the ‘mural capital of the world’, and L.A. is a psychedelic nest of street art. The art scene continues to explode after the opening of ‘The Broad‘ last year, a $140 million gallery housing the most avant-garde work with artists such as Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman. Instagram’s latest frontier is artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Room” called “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.” #selfie
LACMA is the largest museum on the coast with 20 acres of exhibits. There are six completely FREE buildings and a park to relax in with *gigantic bronze seating structures*. Unexpected to say the least.
Don’t miss Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’ in the evening – a permanent outdoor installation outside the museum consisting of 202 lamps.
Downtown is IT
Downtown’s cultural renaissance is putting the city on the map. Start your day at the hipster Arts Distric with a pint of cold coffee and a copy ofThe Downtowner– your bible on the latest places to visit.
Here you’ll also find the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Grand Park, which are completely free, and where there are *free* events every week, such as Boot Camp and Yoga classes. Just make sure you don’t end up on Skid Row! Otherwise, if you really want to avoid the more touristy places…
Hungry? Head to Clifton’s Cafeteria: a recently renovated 1930s building that houses 3 bars and a café. You’ll find an art deco style and a very special atmosphere, with a forest, sumptuous chandeliers and a huge tree growing outside. Try to find a piece of comet in one of the bars. Yes you read that right: these rocks are from SPACE!
The beach is always just around the corner
It is rare for a city to have so many beaches! To avoid the more crowded ones, hop on a train, bus or taxi and BAM! You’ll find yourself on an earthly paradise sipping a coconut cocktail. Ahhh… Malibu..
L.A. might not be the easiest city to get around on foot, but the Metro Expo recently opened a line that connects Venice Beach directly with Santa Monica. And Uber buses are very cheap. In addition, Uber pools will allow you to share the ride with other people: further savings! Tip: the traffic is always quite heavy so avoid rush hours!
Hostels are super social
Of course there are murals in hostels too! The Samesun Hostel is located right on Venice Beach and you can watch the sunset from your room!
HI Santa Monica is another diamond in the rough and if you’re a fan of American retro in Hollywood, the Banana Bungalow is for you! This spacious motel-turned-hostel is accompanied by palm trees and a spectacular view from the backyard. There is also a tiki bar and a garden where free breakfast and free tacos are served every Wednesday. No wonder travellers end up working here!
The cinemas are legendary
L.A. is pure nirvana for film and theatre lovers. I am one of these, so walking down Bradway in Downtown Los Angeles is great. The Los Angeles Teather is a must! With its opulent interior, it is said to have been inspired by the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles itself.
If you’re feeling a little nostalgic, go see American classics at ‘The Egyptian Movie Theatre‘: built in 1922 as a Hollywood landmark after the discovery of Pharaoh Tut’s tomb. So many stars, so many memories.
Tip: L.A. is home to many stars, so it is often the case that after the films you can ask the stars a few questions directly!
People from all over the world come here to buy items from every century. Go to the city’s most famous vintage market every second Sunday of the month – The Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Otherwise there are vintage shops and flea markets every week: the Melrose Trading Post in West Hollywood is held every Sunday with antique installations, food and music – admission just $3!
Venice Beach is not just the beach
We could tell you that Venice Beach, aka ‘Dogtown’, is a place for ravenous eyes, but you have to see it with your own: imagine a marijuana-scented realm full of skaters, ghetto blasters and people with two-headed animals. A bit trashy but interesting I confess!
For a taste of free, vintage Venice, I suggest you explore the residential streets. The real hippies moved here after the Vietman war in the 70s and there is a bohemian atmosphere. Where else would you find yourself if you were being watched from a doorway with a swordfish and a mermaid?
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a must. Named ‘the coolest block in America’, this is where you’ll find pseudo-hippie shops, drink their coffee and take a ride on their expensive bikes. Have a lemonade and watch.
Weird is normal
From the nerdiest burlesque to peculiar characters on the metro, this city is home to some delightful ‘weird’. For starters, it is home to the headquarters of Scientology. They organise free tours where they show you around and try to ‘convert’ you.
The US has the highest number of serial kellers in the world and if you have a particular curiosity, we dare you to visit the Museum of Death: the guy at the entrance warned us that several people fainted or vomited. “Pah! We don’t have such problems!” we said. It was when we got to the ‘suicide’ room that we realised we had gone too far. Let’s just say that we didn’t sleep very well that night!
It’s well connected
You know that friend who knows everyone? Well, L.A. is like that. It’s the social atmosphere of California, with its friends Mexico, Vegas and San Diego just a few hours away. If you have time plan a road trip and drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Fran to Tiji. Good times!
What are you waiting for? Book your dream trip here.