Trip Index (what we have published so far):
Table of Contents
- 1 Things to do in Los Angeles – Understand
- 2 Things to do in Los Angeles – Logistics
- 3 Things to do in Los Angeles – Sights
- 4 Beverly Hills
- 5 Things to do in Los Angeles – Food and Drink
- 6 The Verve (DownTown)
- 7 Two Guns Espresso (Manhattan Beach)
- 8 Rose Park Roasters Coffee Bar (Long Beach)
- 9 GTA (Gjelina Take Away)
- 10 Guisados
Things to do in Los Angeles – Understand
L.A. can be confusing at first. The city’s downtown isn’t a real city core, the traffic is manic and the sights are seemingly ultra touristy.
However, L.A. is easily the most creative big city in the world; it never runs out of entertainment options. But this is a town that makes you work hard for your money – you need to invest into location research here more than most other cities. Here is my guide to one of my favorite cities!
Things to do in Los Angeles – Logistics
Get a rental car in L.A. as anything else will just cause a headache. Secondly, get a data connection and use Google Maps – L.A. has many parallel freeways and knowing which one is jammed up and which one isn’t can be the difference between being stuck in traffic for half a day or cruising through the city.
Things to do in Los Angeles – Sights
When you enter L.A. from the north, you’ll find the landmark J. Paul Getty Museum hovering over the city like a European castle. It’s in a spectacular location and has incredible views, but the art collection here is just meh in my book.
The Getty Villa visit is included when you buy a Getty Museum ticket, but you need to make a reservation before coming here. Ideally you should buy both online and make a reservation as early as possible.
I really loved this place; it’s like a Southern European mini-castle with lots of quirks. The cafeteria makes delicious burgers and is one of the only lunch options for miles.
The Griffith Observatory is the best place for an L.A. sunset, with magnificent views all over the L.A. basin. Unfortunately the secret is out, though, and during the summer months it gets very crowded. There is a very worthwhile show in the planetarium, if you arrive too early like I did the last time I was there.
Honestly, that part of Hollywood is just a bit too dirty and touristy for me. Skip it.
Many people go there to hike, run or walk their dogs. Not a must-do in my opinion, but it’s still worth mentioning.
It’s a cool building in a great area (and they actually have oil coming out of the ground there!) However, the art collection isn’t very memorable.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is on my list for my next L.A. visit, as I’ve heard good things about it!
I’m not a big car aficionado, but the Petersen is an impressive museum. There are tons of cool cars presented in a beautiful way, with plenty of interesting car stories shared alongside them. This could be a great thing to do on a rainy day.
Santa Monica Beach is probably the best beach around. It’s huge, sandy and close to a number of great food and drink options.
Nothing to add here as it is famous enough, but therefore it is also really touristy.
We all have those images of Rodeo Drive in our heads so that should not be something to miss out on on your trip to Los Angeles. It’s a fancy and pretty area that isn’t has dirty as many other touristy places in L.A. – so its worth going.
If you have your own transport drive through the palm lined streets and admire the mansions. After that head into the foothills and go out n a trail. You won’t believe you are still in L.A. after just 10 minutes drive.
This is a bit outside the city proper, but gets an honorable mention on my list.
Things to do in Los Angeles – Food and Drink
L.A.’s creativity can be seen in its mind-boggling diversity of food options and places to spend the night.
Intelligentsia is the champion of the third wave coffee generation, with several outlets across the city. It is an experience that you should try!
My personal favorite Intelligentsia outlet is right behind the beach in Venice. The coffee shop is just beautiful!
Verve Coffee is another L.A. based mini chain that build comfortable spaces that will make your coffee experience a hard to forget moment. I really liked the outlet Downtown.
Portland-based Stumptown also has a place in L.A. that won’t keep you longing for your caffeine fix.
Joan’s on Third is a high-end grocery store/eatery, with good and healthy food. Don’t be surprised if your favorite TV or movie star is just grabbing a sandwich here while you munch down your salad.
This cool downtown Spanish-inspired restaurant serves delicious and creative fare to the hungry hordes.
This speakeasy-themed French bistro occupies two floors; the lower floor is a lounge, bar and restaurant, while upstairs there are sweeping views all over the city from the rooftop lounge.
The Rooftop at The Standard is more ‘Art Nouveau’. It features loud music, but it’s still a great place to grab a drink and lounge by the pool.
I really like the Roosevelt Hotel. It’s one of L.A.’s oldest hotels, but the bars have very little to do with the hotel operations. The Spare Room cocktail lounge comes complete with a vintage bowling area and after a drink or two you might start to think the current year is 1925 instead of 2015.
If the upstairs gets too crowded, you can check out the even smaller Library Bar downstairs.
Set back behind the beach along a major thoroughfare is this easy to miss spot. It is the original location of Two Guns Espresso and also has delicious sandwiches besides excellent coffee. Manhattan Beach is close to LAX so it can serve as an easy stopover.
Rose Park Roasters Coffee Bar (Long Beach)
Long Beach had missed out on the third wave coffee boom for too long – now Rose Park Coffee Roasters solves this. This tiny little spot comes with great vibe and delicious coffee and fast WiFi. It’s not cheap though!
Come here between 10Am and 11 AM and a fairly sunny day and you will get the L.A. quality of life. GTA churns out tons of inspired, interesting and delicious breakfast items and the small outdoors invite to sit and chat.
Guisados is a local chain of Mexican taco restaurants. They come as a fusion, low-key affair that will make your mouth watery before you even arrive. It’s also very cheap with around $3 per order. Gourmet without attitude is what Chipotle would say…
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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