The Locally-Approved Beginner’s Guide To LA

By Sharlene Chiu,

Being an East-coaster I find that there is never a bad time to head to sunny Los Angeles. The palm trees, the ocean, the endless fun, the delicious eats… it’s oh-so-easy to call L.A. home, if even for just a few days.

What to see

Local guide to LA
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Living in Los Angeles means you can fill your Instagram with photos of stunning beaches, like Santa Monica and Malibu — even in December you’ll be able to taunt your pals stuck in the Polar Vortex II.  Make sure to also take a stroll down to nearby Abbott Kinney Blvd. in Venice and check out the chic boutiques.

The Virgil Los Angeles
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By evening, soaking up quality comedy is a must. Whether it’s an improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade, which Parks and Rec and SNL alumni Amy Poehler helped co-found, or a stand-up show on Monday nights at The Virgil, which recently hosted special guests Zach Galifianakis and David Cross  it’s a guaranteed good time that rarely sets you back more than six bucks.

Rose Bowl Flea Market LA
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If you happen to be in town the second Sunday of the month, check out the Rose Bowl Flea Market. You will be met with hundreds of rare, beautiful, strange, eclectic furniture and clothing finds. Expect to spend a few hours here rubbing elbows with locals as they search for that one-of-a-kind steal.

What to do

One of my favorite things to do in L.A. is hike — on the West Side go to Paseo Miramar and on the East Side, Griffith Park  where you’ll witness incredible nature and get a workout — for free. If you hike Griffith, try to sneak in a pit-stop at the Observatory for sweeping views of the city. Make sure to grab a bite at the adorable Trails Café (the avocado sandwich is delish!).
A short road trip (about two hours) to geological wonder Joshua Tree National Park is absolutely worthwhile for the nature-junkie.

Day trips from Los Angeles
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Give yourself a day to arrive, explore and get back to the city from Joshua Tree National Park — you’re going to want to see all of this desert paradise.

Joshua Tree National Park
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For a less physical but equally inspirational “to do,” visit the LACMA. There are always unique rotating exhibits as well as the permanent showcases like Chris Burden’s Urban Light that will take your breath away.

LACMA
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What to eat

Daily Dose Cafe Los Angeles
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With so much to see and do in Los Angeles, you should have a full stomach at all times. I like to start with brunch downtown either at L.A. Chapter at The Ace Hotel or Daily Dose Café, which is located in the prettiest alleyway. If I happen to start my day on the West Side, the weekend all-you-can-eat brunch with endless pancakes (including the best fried chicken combo) at A-Frame in Culver City is the go-to.

Once you’ve finally digested the epic brunch, you will want to have dinner at another one of Roy Choi’s restaurants at The Line Hotel, either at the gorgeous greenhouse vibe of The Commissary or the hip Korean comfort food of POT. End the night with a dessert stop at the Café in the hotel lobby, which is currently serving treats like pumpkin whoopie pies and nutella buns.

Best Thai Food in LA
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If BYOB is more your style, grab some wine at Erewhon and head to the incredible Escuela in West Hollywood for Mexican or Night and Market — either Weho or Silverlake locations — for the best Northern Thai food in the city (my favorite dish is the moo sadoong “startled pig” spicy salad with grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, garlic and lime, with a side of sticky coconut rice).

For fun cocktails post-dinner head to The Nice Guy — be prepared that you’ll need to make a reservation about a month in advance — where you will probably casually spot the likes of Harry Styles or Kate Hudson, or indulge in the libations of serious mixologists at Bar Stella.

TACO ZONE Los Angeles
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No night is complete without a taco truck stop  I said you’d be full at all hours of the day — on the West Side, hit up Tacos Leos for the best al pastor’s and in the east, Taco Zone for amazing $2 carne molidas.

Where to sleep

Shutters On The Beach Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Shutters on the Beach Facebook

In Santa Monica, Shutters is a beautiful beach-side staple that’s insanely comfortable and relaxing.

Shutters Hotel Santa Monica
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For the more action-minded, The Ace Hotel Downtown is a no-brainer. The Ace opened early last year in the historic 1920’s United Artists building and houses the delicious L.A. Chapter restaurant, a coffee bar, and a fun rooftop bar.

Sharlene’s Tips

Tips for Los Angeles
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Los Angeles is vast so the best way to get to know the city is by exploring it neighborhood by neighborhood and you can’t deny the fact that it’s a driving city so keep in mind the following tips:

  • You can’t take an Uber from LAX but you can take a free hotel shuttle to any hotel near the airport and then Uber from there. Money saver!
  • After 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, you can park in any yellow loading-only zone.
  • Fountain Avenue is the fastest street east to west between Highland and La Cienega.
  • Never leave your belongings visible in your parked car!

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