Today my bestie for the last 7 years, Alex, is going to tell us everything we need to know about LA. I got to visit her only once but she was the perfect tour guide showing me so much in just four days. This guide is great for first-timers because it has all the hot tourist spots but also all the restaurants and bars that only locals know about. So, let’s thank Alex for such a complete and practical guide (like I could have expected anything else from her)!
Guide to LA from a local party girl!
I lived in West LA for 2 years after college. I loved everything about my experience…except the traffic of course. There are so many things to do and places to go while visiting LA. It would be impossible to do everything in one trip. So I will just give you a little taste of my own personal experience and the places I would take my LA first timers.
As you can imagine, LA is a large spread out city. Unless you are staying in one specific area for the duration of your trip such as downtown, Hollywood, or Santa Monica, you need to rent a car. There is public transportation (buses) that goes from downtown to Santa Monica as well as a downtown Metro. But my advice is to rent a car and use UBER or LYFT cab companies when out and drinking.
Hollywood Walk of Fame / Kodak Theater / Griffith Observatory
Most people who have never been to LA want to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To me, this is a very underwhelming experience. Go to the Walk of Fame for a short run through and see the Kodak Theater then drive to Griffith Observatory where you can either hike or drive to the top (depending on your fitness level) and see a great view of the entire city. Griffith is close to the Walk of Fame so this combo would be a great day trip. Remember that traffic is intense so you can realistically only do a couple things in a day.
Rodeo Drive / Beverly Hills
Another thing people want to do is walk down Rodeo Drive. Unless you have the money to shop at those stores, it is a much better idea to drive down Rodeo to see it and then drive up into Beverly Hills to see the celebrity mansions. You don’t waste time parking and getting out on Rodeo or trying to buy tickets for celebrity tour buses. This will only take a few hours and you get the fulfillment of getting to see where celebrities live and shop.
The Grove / Farmer’s Market
My favorite place to go in LA is The Grove, a big outdoor shopping center in West LA. It is a great day trip where you can shop in a variety of stores and eat at the famous Farmer’s Market. If you choose a restaurant instead of the Farmer’s Market, go to Mendicino Farms across the street from the Farmer’s Market. You can also visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which is less than a mile from The Grove.
Santa Monica Pier / Venice Beach
Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach and boardwalk take up a whole day. You can rent bikes to conveniently ride from Venice beach to Santa Monica Pier. The Venice boardwalk is crazy. It comprises of hippie vendors selling an array of eclectic trinkets and art, bums sleeping, singing, and dancing, as well as medical marijuana stores with weed pushers at every corner. Restaurants line the boardwalk so you have many food options. Santa Monica Pier is the historical end of Route 66 with lots of food, games, and entertainment. The Third Street Promenade is a street full of shops and restaurants just inland of the pier. It has all price ranges for any traveller’s budget.
Unfortunately, I did not travel downtown frequently but can recommend a game at the Staples Center or Dodgers Stadium. Below will include some downtown restaurants and bars.
Hottest Restaurants in LA
Classic LA Eats
Pink’s Hot Dogs-Hollywood
El Coyote-Mexican-Fairfax District
Canter’s Delicatessen-Fairfax District
Phillippe’s The Original-French Dip Sandwiches-Downtown
LA Healthy Eats
Mendicino Farms-Fairfax (multiple locations)
Tender Greens-Santa Monica (multiple locations)
Lemonade- Beverly Hills
Goldie’s-near Beverly Center
Blu Jam Café-West Hollywood
The Hudson-West Hollywood
Hip/Popular Eats in LA
Sugar Fish-Sushi-Beverly Hills (multiple locations)
Tatsu-Ramen-Melrose (multiple locations)
Plan Check-Burgers-Fairfax District
Petty Cash-Tacos-Taqueria-Fairfax District
Harvard and Stone-Hollywood
Bar Lubitsch-West Hollywood
Public School-Culver City
The Bungalow-Santa Monica
Saddle Ranch-Sunset Blvd
Booty LA-Echo Park
Side Trips from LA
Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, about 20 miles north of Santa Monica Pier, where you can paddle board, surf, eat delicious seafood, or go to the Getty Villa.
Newport Beach is my favorite place in Southern California. I lived there for the 1st 3 months of my California residency. Eat at Mama D’s on the peninsula, watch surfers at the wedge, then drive 5 miles south for a breathtaking sunset followed by a beach campfire at Corona Del Mar.
Travel about 30 miles southeast to Anaheim and find the happiest place on earth…literally.
Alex Woytek is a ray of sunshine. She is qualified to write about where to eat in LA because I have seen her eat- she means business. She is qualified to tell you about nightlife because this is a girl who has drank her way through festivals, Olympic games, hillbilly 7-shot line ups, Chicago’s St Paddy’s, Kentucky Derby’s, and every home OSU football game. Doesn’t sound that intense? These things start at 7 am and go on all weekend. Also notable: while vomiting on my 21st, she didn’t pack my back she told me to RALLY and dragged my ass to the bar!
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