An article By Pier Nirandara of PiersGreatPerhaps.com
A short introduction about the city
Ah, Los Angeles, the City of Angels! Famed for its film industry, LA is an amalgamation of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood and SoCal beach vibes. With a diverse crowd and great food, this major city is not one to miss, whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally!
Top 5 landmarks to see
Disneyland / Universal Studios / Harry Potter World
This is a must for a family trip, or for Harry Potter lovers! If you’re here for Halloween, make sure you check out Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights for some true scares – so much fun!
Getty Villa / Getty Center
With a fascinating history, gorgeous gardens and cool architecture, the Getty Center in LA and the Getty Villa in Malibu are both great places to spend a day with family or a significant other.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Clichéd, but famous for a reason. Take a stroll on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame if this is your sort of thing.
Griffith Park / Observatory
A great place to catch views of the LA skyline, especially on a clear day! I recommend visiting on off-hours and majorly avoiding weekends, unless you like being stuck in traffic!
photo by Woodrow Walden
Santa Monica Pier
Touristy but still charming, the Santa Monica Pier is a great spot for a date night, with food, a fair (on a pier, no less), and a Ferris wheel to complete the night!
photo by Rob Bye
Los Angeles Off the Beaten Path
For those seeking more than the usual tourist traps in Los Angeles, I recommend visiting any of the following for a true taste of local Los Angeles! You can also plan a weekend getaway to Los Alamos if you have the time on your trip to Los Angeles.
The Last Bookstore
Located downtown, this is heaven for bibliophiles and photography lovers! Take a step through its famed book tunnel for an Instagram-worthy shot!
Can’t go to Venice, Italy? No worries, Venice, California offers some canals of her own! Stroll along and see the quaint houses – perfect for a date day.
The Culver Hotel
With a famed history relating to the Wizard of Oz and old Hollywood, the Culver Hotel has a really cool bar with great vibes.
Especially suitable for those wanting to have a night out but avoiding the “Hollywood scene” in other parts of town.
Situated Downtown, you’ll probably recognize the interior of this building as soon as you step inside, since it’s been featured in numerous movies over the decades.
photo by Ashim D’Silva
A commonly frequented open air shopping complex with an abundance of restaurants and a great Farmer’s Market.
I stand by my statement that LA has some of the best Japanese food in the U.S., probably due to its Japanese population and proximity to Japan itself. Stop by Little Tokyo for some authentic sushi!
An hour or so outside of LA, this is the perfect day trip on a sunny day. Explore the Huntington Library and stroll through its beautiful, lush gardens with plants ranging from cactus to bonsai trees.
El Matador State Beach
An hour north of LA in Malibu, El Matador is a picturesque beach wonderful for exploration. I recommend going late in the day for some of the best sunset views you’ll find on the west coast!
Where to eat in Los Angeles
As a foodie who can never stop eating and plans “eatineraries” when traveling, the abundance of various types of food in LA is absolutely incredible. However, to prevent this post from being an endless scroll, below is a list of some famous places to munch, split up into price range!
Pink’s Hot Dogs
Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles
In & Out Burger
Cafe Gratitude (v)
Joan’s on Third
Shabu Shabu House
District Hannah An
Fig & Olive
Son of a Gun
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
For Asian cuisine, I highly recommend pretty much any restaurant on Sawtelle Boulevard (favorites are Tsujita for ramen, Seoul Tofu House for Korean food, and R.O.C. for Chinese!)
LA also has a Little Tokyo, Thai Town, Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, Koreatown, and pretty much any ethnicity you can think of has its own zone in the city with authentic cuisine.
And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a few dessert spots!
Desserts & Ice Cream:
Carmela Ice Cream
Ice Cream Lab
Lady M Cake Boutique
Neveux Artisan Creamery
Saffron & Rose
Salt & Straw
Sweet Lady Jane
Sweet Rose Creamery
Tips for Los Angeles
How to get around
LA is a great city, but extremely sprawled out. The most important thing is knowing the city’s limitations for public transportation! I recommend renting a car, or utilizing UberX or Lyft – these services will make getting to various neighborhoods drastically easier.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Here are some Los Angeles accommodation options.
For the younger crowd, I recommend renting an Airbnb for some of the best prices, or trying out HotelTonight if you’re only here for a day or two.
West Hollywood, or closer to the beach around Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach are all really great for those in their 20s and early 30s.
If you’re keen on using public transportation, downtown Culver City is pretty centrally located and has direct access to the Metro to get to downtown and Santa Monica. It’s also a really up and coming zone with a buzzing bar scene, but great if you want to avoid the “Hollywood crowd.”
LA is a pretty safe city, especially if you’re in an area with people around. Just don’t go walking alone at night on Skid Row and you’ll be fine! As always, use caution and common sense where necessary.
Despite its reputation for breeding a shallow scene with the Hollywood crowd, LA is just like any other major city — there are pockets of ridiculous wealth, but there are all sorts of people that live here and everything in between. t’s a great tourist destination, and also a place to live if you find your crowd. I know I have, and it’s quickly become my favorite city.
I hope you have as great a time as I do exploring LA!
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17 thoughts on “A Guide to Los Angeles”
The Last Bookstore looks amazing! I’m actually really glad I came across this post, since my close friend just moved to LA and I’ll be going to the city a few times this year. I’ve only really ever spent time in Venice Beach and Santa Monica, but I’d like to explore the other neighborhoods as well. I’d also really like to check out El Matador beach, as it looks stunning!
wow! A cool guide for the first timers. I love the the book shop
Those pictures of food are beautiful. I’m so hungry…Its sad but the only time I’ve visited LA was through the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. After reading this post and seeing that food, I think it about time I visit for real!!!
We haven’t been to LA for nearly 20 years and would love to go back! We haven’t seen the Getty Villa or Center and of course Harry Potter wasn’t even published then, let alone at a theme park. Great guide – I hope we can use it in the next few years 🙂
Handy guide. Usually when I go to LA I just shop and cruise around Sunset Boulevard, so this reminds me there is a lot more to see. I’d love to see the Getty Villa, and of course, as a Potter fan, the Harry Potter experience as well. I did find Venice Beach and Malibou pretty fascinating.
Does one ever run out of things to do while in Los Angeles? I think not! Great guide and very thorough!
Great list! There are so many things to do here in LA, and you captured the core!
Wow, that last bookstore looks amazing. I’d probably spend hours in there.
So many places I never knew existed. That book store looks incredible and some of those desserts need to get in my tummy now!!
Those food photos re superb! We haven’t been to LA since 1998, the kids want to head over that way after seeing the otters in Finding Dory. We’re on our way!
OMG! the food in Los Angeles is making me hungry! It looks delicious!
I love Los Angeles. This post is really making me want to go back.
Wow, there’s a lot more to LA than I thought! I’ve only been there on a layover, so I definitely need to go back.
This makes me want to catch a plane there ASAP! I’ve always wanted to visit the Santa Monica Pier, but everything else there in your article is certainly tempting me!
I have to make a stop at The Last Bookstore! Gelateria Uli as well, those scoops look perfect right now that I’m baring with Singapore’s very warm weather. Great recommendations for LA!
Great travel guide advice to LA. I’m always browsing the web for travel guides and ways I can improve on my guides as well! Thanks for sharing.
wow that’s perfect!! i will be there in a couple of weeks and your guide helps a lot!