I’m a dork and love perusing the Couchsurfing LA page and giving people recommendations on what to do when they are in LA. I, like so many others, love sharing the best my city has to offer with visitors who are coming thru. There are loads of great things to do that won’t be included on this list…but these are my personal recommendations for those from out of town who want to get a glimpse of LA in a short amount of time.
** Please note that when coming to LA, you should plan to either rent a car or spend money on cabs the whole time since public transit is pretty poor / non existent. If cabbing, I recommend downloading Lyft, Sidecar, or Uber–handy apps that allow you to call a cab straight from your phone and GPS will show you it’s location til it arrives.
Now on to the good stuff….
When you first get to LA, a day on the Westside is highly recommended. You can start in Santa Monica–do some shopping along the third street promenade (a great outdoor shopping mall with street artists and a lot of activity), ride the ferris wheel at the pier, and take a walk along the sand. Then make your way down to Venice Beach for some really great people watching. Eat dinner at Manchego, a really great little Tapas place nearby (or there are many other trendy, yummy places out in the area). If it’s the first Friday of the month, stroll along Abbott Kinney at night, where art exhibits will be open late and bars busy. Or you can hit up Main Street which is buzzing on the weekends.
The next day, start early with a hike to the Hollywood sign in Griffith Park. There is a short route (little less than an hour) and a long route (3-ish hours), both are enjoyable. Maybe check out the Griffith Observatory while you are there too. Then make your way over to Hollywood Blvd to check out the stars and the Dolby Theatre, formerly Kodak Theatre (this is super touristy, so you could skip if that isn’t your thing). Stop by Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for some very high end shopping (aka window shopping if you’re on my budget)…visit the Sprinkles cupcake vending machine for a mouthful of sugary goodness. For a quaint but great view of the city at night, go to the The Roof on Wilshire at the Hotel Wilshire for dinner. It’s my secret spot that’s never too crowded and they have a bomb grilled cheese sandwich. If you are up for the east side and love dancing, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Bootie LA at the Echoplex (it happens twice a month on Saturdays). It’s a really great mashup party that isn’t something to be missed. Another option for nightlife is West Hollywood, which has lots of great bars along Santa Monica Blvd between Robertson and La Brea, such as Bar Lubitsch, Laurel Hardware, The Hudson, Surly Goat, and The Abbey (gay).
On Sunday, make your way to the Melrose Trading Post–a really great flea market right in the middle of town. They have lots of fun treasures to be discovered and it’s a nice way to spend the morning (get there early before all the good stuff gets nabbed!) Then check out a museum, I recommend LACMA or The Getty. I also hear the Museum of Jurassic Technology is really great, but I have not yet made it there. Have lunch at Toast or Blu Jam Cafe before doing some shopping on Melrose (check the prices when you walk in since there is a wide range of cheap and expensive shops and it’s often difficult to distinguish from the outside). Finish off your day with dinner at Night + Market for Thai food or head over to The Grove (especially if it’s the holiday season), a nice outdoor shopping area with lots of restaurant options, shopping, and a nice movie theatre.
Well those are some of my recs for spending time in LA. If you have any questions or need more suggestions, feel free to reach out!