So, I recently visited LA and I must say I just love it!! It’s a very vibrant city with lots of things to do, but in the mist of all of that there is also a really lovely laid-back vibe. I like the idea of being able to transition from the hustle and bustle of being downtown to the peaceful quiet vibe you get being up in the hills. Below are my top 5 must do things when you visit LA.
Even the most novice hiker could find it really fun and rewarding to walk a hiking trail and be rewarded with great views of the city below. I hiked a trail by the Griffith observatory, and it was just perfect! When I arrived to the observatory, I found great scenery right away. Although it was still closed due to the pandemic it was a great opportunity for 360 views. Parking was about $10, and we went in the afternoon. We visited at the end of June and the weather was in the 70’s/80’s but being up so high we were rewarded with a nice breeze. If you go on a day that would be hotter, I definitely recommend going earlier in the day or morning so that you’re not immediately sweating before you even start your hike. There are lots of trails to choose from. So, pick one and enjoy!
We visited Santa Monica and Venice Beach. So lets talk about “the good and the sad”. The view from the Santa Monica pier was amazing and you can really capture the beautiful scenery in photos as well as make memories with family and friends. The beach in Santa Monica appeared to be very family friendly and my boys had a great time. The pier also had lots of activities and souvenirs for kids and adults. It was very crowded so you should expect that there won’t be much social distancing. I would also check the weather because for June it was windy and cold. But I’m from Florida so depending on where you are from it might not be that cold to you lol. For our activity we rented bikes and rode down the bike path which stretched from Santa Monica to Venice. The bike path actually goes much further down to other beaches so I recommend getting there early so that you can experience as much of the different beaches as possible using the path.
I hadn’t ridden a bike in years so it was a little adjustment for me until I got used to it. But it ended up being super relaxing and a great way to sight see in a short period of time. Now, for the sad…… riding down to Venice beach I did not expect to see the amount of homeless people and encampments that I witnessed on the bike ride. The bike path quickly turned into homeless tents and communities planted on both sides of the path as we got into Venice Beach. I guess I didn’t realize prior to visiting LA just how bad the homeless problem was, so it was very shocking to me to see this on the beach. With that said the bike path was long and I’m sure you would not encounter that on the entire path as it does take you to different beaches. I just thought I should mention it because this was apart of what I experienced.
So, that I don’t leave this section of my blog on a sad note, I want to reiterate that the beach and people (aside from that) were really nice and laid back. I do believe the city has an opportunity to make changes in that area and it is my understanding from the watching the news after my trip that they have already started to try and help the homeless community there. But I would definitely go back to visit their beaches.
Take a food tour…….
There are so many places on the west coast that you will not find on the east coast or anywhere else in the world! In LA I found that there are so many options for any type of palate, across all spectrums, (vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian etc.). One of the things I did was use my Yelp account to make a list of places that I wanted to try out and then I planned which places I would go to depending on what part of the city I was in at that time. I visited a vegan donut shop called Donatsu in Little Tokyo that I loved and definitely recommend, and I also visited a vegan burger shop (Montey's good burger) and Korean restaurant in Korea Town. No matter where you go I definitely recommend doing at least a little bit of planning because there truly are a lot of options.
DO the tourist stuff…
For any place that I visit I like to do the tourist stuff first, to kind of get it out of the way. I am always interested in seeing what all of the hype is about for myself so that I can make a determination whether it really was hype worthy. If I decide that it is over hyped at least I will know that for the next time I visit. For me, I didn’t necessarily make a whole day out of just one activity. But I was able to get a sense for what I liked and didn’t like within a short period of time. For example, I visited the Hollywood stars and discovered I really didn’t care that much about it LOL. I mean, sure it was fun to take pictures in front of; but it really is a big tourist trap, where people everywhere are trying to sell you EVERYTHING. I know now that I wouldn’t be interested in going back, but I do value the experience of doing it, even if it was just for a short time in my day. I think you could find real value in being an actual tourist!
Find different events to do around town….
Now, this I put in the category of something I wish I did. But travelling during Covid presented some challenges and this was one of them. With so many restrictions in place it was hard to go to smaller events around town. But, I do recommend going to websites like Eventbrite or even the cities website to see what local events they have going on. So that you can get a real feel for the place that you visit outside of the normal tourist activities. To me, it makes me feel like I am a part of the community and then I start to imagine what it would be like to live there. I am a big believer in making the most out of your experiences wherever you go, so that you can truly understand that place and the energy (positive or negative) that it might provide. I did not get to do that on this trip. But when I go back I hope to visit some farmers markets, arts markets and different roof top events (for the views of course)!
There are so many things to do in LA and of course we could not do them all in one trip so I look forward to going back and creating a new Itinerary of things to try!