I lived in Los Angeles for a year. I don’t know if anyone could have come to that conclusion on their own, especially considering the content of my blog. I also fully plan on moving back to Los Angeles again at some point. But for now, my place is cleaning out the Playbills in my parents’ basement and selling them on eBay (shameless plug if anyone’s into theatre).
Since I have had the experience of navigating the gridlocked streets, I enjoy passing my wisdom onto others in hopes that my advice will cut some misery from their trip. L.A. is a huge, sprawling city; it can be tough to pick things to do. Look at me… I still didn’t do a lot of shit and I lived there. This list is really targeted to three friends who are traveling out West beginning tomorrow: Mikey, Abby and Eric. But I’m not going to be cliquey about it, anyone who plans on traveling to the City of Angels is allowed to look at this “guide.”
STEP ONE SHOULD BE A RENTAL CAR. I think there’s a myth that it’s possible to get around Los Angeles via public transit, but whomever is saying that is on crack. Get the car. You will be able to see so much more with it.
Sidenote: if anyone is actually planning to use Airbnb while in L.A.; please read my post on how I stayed in a Halfway House by accident before you make a decision.
Here goes nothing. Or everything.
Part I – The DO’s
#1 – IN-N-OUT BURGER
It’s like Monopoly, guys––do not pass “GO,” do not collect $200. The first stop when I hit the Left Coast is almost always In-N-Out and almost always the one on Sepulveda near LAX. If you are flying into Las Vegas like some people I know, you still have no choice. Get it Animal Style; you will only regret it for a while. Especially since you’ve been flying a whole lot and you’re like me, you need food to soak up the Bloody Marys. Don’t bitch out if there’s a line because it’s worth it.
#2 – BEACHES. SO MANY. WHICH ONE? HELP ME!!
Visiting Los Angeles for the first time with such a short time frame is an overwhelming feeling. If you don’t have the time to visit the unreal beauty of the beaches in Laguna Niguel, then I would pick Venice. Why? For one, it’s a pretty huge beach and I’ve never seen it too crowded. The reason I like Venice is because it’s fucking insane. There are so many different characters around: selling artwork, selling drugs, buying drugs, homeless people showering in the outdoor showers, freak shows, the boardwalk, Muscle Beach. Quintessential L.A. beach experience. I could be a big douchebag and tell you to rent a bike but I wouldn’t do that so why recommend that to you?
Also wear sunscreen if you’re pale like me. My skin eventually got used to the high UV index but my first time to the beach in California I actually got sun poisoning and sun poisoning isn’t the most fun thing in the world. The above picture is misleading: Toms are not great “beach shoes.”
From here you can even walk up to the Santa Monica Pier if you’re feeling active. And that’s a lot of fun too. Just leave before the sun sets or you will never. Get. Out.
Best Day: Monday-Thursday. Parking: You could try to find street parking but I always just park in the Municipal lot where Rose Ave. meets the boardwalk.
#3 – MELROSE
Yeah Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is cool and all, plus it’s fun to putz around there and pretend you can afford to even breathe in that city, but Melrose is where it’s at. I worked at the Starbucks on Melrose & Stanley Aves for nine months, and every day was like being on Mars––in the best way possible. The cross-section of folks that roam Melrose Avenue (I’d say East of Fairfax and West of Gardner) is fascinating. We had one homeless man who spouted the most obscene language ever and one homeless man who was known to shit his pants in our lobby. Also an incredibly friendly homeless man named Milo who I believe escaped from Albania, and was always happy no matter what.
And the boutiques on Melrose are amazing. That’s where that shirt with just Lana Del Rey’s face is from… one of those amazing boutiques. Brunch is cool on Melrose as well: The Village Idiot has liquor, and is a gastropub situation. There’s some high celebrity traffic as well, especially if you go towards Robertson where Vivienne Westwood and D.A.S.H. are situated. I’d take Melrose over Beverly Hills any day.
#4 – HOMO ACTIVITIES
West Hollywood is literally the gayest city ever; just look at the rainbow crosswalks. The scene isn’t my fav: it can get pretty Queeny up in there real fast. It’s an awesome place to be, though. Sure you can totally go to The Abbey, but everyone goes to The Abbey. My votes: Fiesta Cantina, Hamburger Mary’s for some drag action, PUMP (because Lisa Vanderpump, although I haven’t heard anything about it). Then maybe The Abbey.
Akbar in Silver Lake is the Gay Bar I went to the most. Silver Lake is where the “hipsters” hang out; it’s also my favorite place in Los Angeles.
#6 – HOLLYWOOD & HIGHLAND
Hollywood & Highland is basically a huge outdoor mall surrounded by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s situated close to TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) and the El Capitan Theatre. It’s cool and all but H&H is essentially the Times Square of Los Angeles-it’s incredibly packed and dangerous to be around after a certain time of night. It’s definitely cool to look at, but I would really just casually drive by rather than pay for the parking.
#7 – AMOEBA MUSIC
I went to Amoeba Music for the first time on a trip to L.A. in December 2012 and I had a coronary episode when I entered. Wall-to-wall vinyl records and CDs… Amoeba has shit on vinyl that I never even knew existed. Katy Perry? She’s on vinyl. Lady Gaga? Yup. They have new and used music and if you’re a music fan, it’s worth a stop in. I once spent half a pay check in here. Amoeba is located at 6400 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.
#8 – HOTEL ROOSEVELT
If you’re going to start the evening at a hotel bar, the Tropicana Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt is pretty sweet. Both this and the Library Bar are kind of on the steep side price-wise, but the Tropicana Bar is literally poolside. I heard Kelly Osbourne hosts some sort of party every Thursday. You really get a feel for Los Angeles being the type of place where you just gotta be in the right place at the right time. Then you’ll be partying with celebrities and enjoying bottle service. This is not a bad place to start your night. Plus you can kill two birds with one stone because you’re at Hollywood & Highland. Then you just have to drive down to Santa Monica Blvd and go west and you’re in WeHo.
One qualm – you have to sneak in because it’s for hotel guests only. No biggie, just pretend you work there… right Mikey?
That’s a pretty packed two days right there. The only way to get the “full Los Angeles experience” is to live there, quite honestly. Even then, there’s still so much of the city you won’t get to explore. Always check LA Weekly for the latest events going on throughout the city.
Part II – The DON’Ts
#1 – DON’T JAYWALK
I lived in New York City for three year; rarely did I ever cross at an intersection. Imagine my surprise when someone advised me that the po-po in Los Angeles were jaywalking Nazis. They will ticket you… I saw it happen.
#2 – DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
Uber. Lyft. Download them. They’re cheaper than a DUI. The LAPD is out for blood when it comes to a DUI. Catching you driving under the influence is their meal ticket. Side Note: You’re better off taking the 101 than the Cahuenga Pass if you are headed for the Valley and you’re even slightly buzzed. You may not get a DUI but they can slap you with a wet reckless.
#3 – THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN WILL ALWAYS BE THERE
I would not waste my time trying to get closer. I’ve done it before. You see it, you take a picture and you move on. It wastes too much time.
#4 – I-405 IS AN OUTER CIRCLE OF HELL
Try avoiding it, especially at the I-10/I-405 interchange. I once sat on that ramp in park for 20 minutes… I even got out of my car at one point, I’m being serious. Other than that Santa Monica Blvd is always packed headed towards the beach. Waze is alright, and is probably the best GPS option when it comes to driving.
#5 – CALIFORNIA DRIVERS HAVE THEIR HEADS UP THEIR ASSES
Be alert because these motherfuckers are crazy. It’s like they learned how to drive on Jupiter––they’re never paying attention, they’re always doing everything except actually paying attention to the road. Because of that, you will see a bagillion accidents. I started to breathe easier after driving there for two months.
#6 – DON’T BE AFRAID TO PARALLEL PARK
It’s cool, I still can’t do it. In L.A. you generally have the choice of street parking or Valet. It’s up to you, you’re on vacation. Being the cheapskate I am, I generally look for a street spot before a garage, and then land on valet. They have valet at Jamba Juice in Studio City, I shit you the fuck not.
Again, these are just my suggestions. I require you to TAKE PICTURES. I miss the shit out of Los Angeles. Have fun, be safe, get drunk, get tan, come back with stories. #ByeFelicia