Living so close to LA, I feel privileged to be able to enjoy the culture and attractions of la la land without having to actually live there. I get it, you really have to let the place grow on you and you have to be patient. Let it in.
My friends from the midwest dislike visiting LA a lot. Like a lot, a lot. It’s because it’s so hard to get from point A to point B, and near impossible if you want to cross town to do anything. But…you can get a ton done if you plan things out well (yes I’m a nerd, but we get the job done).
Here’s another itinerary for an LA weekender
Start off with an early morning hike to the Hollywood sign. Beachwood Canyon trail will take you to a good viewpoint of the front of the sign. DO NOT park on the residential streets, you will get towed. These people are serious. They are extremely wealthy, so you know they have clout. There’s free street parking on Canyon Lake Drive, and you walk about 10 minutes to get to the hike trail starting point on Deronda Drive. The clearing you’ll come to is the allegedly the closest you can get to the front of the sign, but there is a trail on the side that will take you a little closer.
The best thing about getting a hike out of the way in the AM is the
views fact that you get to reward yourself with a nice meal! To have a truly Los Angeles experience, you’ve got to have Thai food. LA Thai food is probably the best outside of Thailand, and there are many (MANY) options in Thai Town and in Hollywood (Jitlada, Night Market, Hoy ka, Palms, etc.).
Wat Thai is a temple in North Hollywood that has a street food set up just like in the motherland. There’s meat on skewers, mango sticky rice, boat noodles, you name it, there’s a stall for every one of your favorite Siam delicacies. Grab yourself a Thai tea and whatever noodle dish you fancy and enjoy the beautiful statues and grounds of this Buddhist temple.
Next head on over to Silverlake. One of LA’s most trendy neighborhoods, there’s always flea and farmer’s markets going on over the weekends, and it seems like every 100 ft there’s a hip eatery. If your gluts aren’t hurting you yet, head to the Micheltorena stairs, a colorful collection of steps that ascend up through the neighborhood.
By this time, it’s probably hotter than the surface of the sun, so you need a cool down. Head to K-Town, where you can spa it up in one of the Korean Spas (hope you’re comfortable with nudity) or enjoy a cold confection from Bumsan Organic Milk Bar. This South Korean ice cream parlor has flavors like taro, passionfruit and green tea. You know, the traditionals. There are sprinkle cones, FYI.
Head to the area of Wilshire Blvd known as the Miracle Mile next to check out any number of famous LA museums. To get your full tourist on, take a picture amongst the street lamps of Urban Light by Chris Burden at the LACMA.
Or maybe you want to see the extensive collection at the Petersen Automobile Museum (although half of the collection is hidden away in the basement vault).
If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss the La Brea Tarpits and the George C. Page Museum. These tar pits have been around for tens of thousands of years, trapping fossils/bones in them. The grounds are peaceful and beautiful with bubbling black gold emanating from the land.
Echo Park is another hip neighborhood just around the bend from Dodger Stadium and Elysium Park. It’s totally the Eastside of LA with lots of public art and murals and a lake where you can rent pedal boats and grab a bite to eat from their boathouse eatery, Beacon.
Angeleno Heights is a smaller enclave within this neighborhood known for its Victorian homes. It’s also home to Button Mash, a super buzzy spot owned by Nguyen Tran (is this the most Vietnamese name ever?), the former proprietor of Starry Kitchen, a gasp…illegal restaurant operated out of his apartment. This is a blast of nostalgia to your face, with an impressive array of arcade games and pinball machines. The food is comfort asian with spam fried rice, jackfruit sandwiches, orange tang cauliflower, tofu balls and ginger wings.
Sure, you could spend all night being a pinball wizard, but if you want to enjoy the city of stars, head back to Silverlake to the famous chandelier tree. Its magical, twinkling lights are the closest thing you’ll get to fireflies lighting up the LA night sky. It’s lovely that this homeowner had the foresight to see how beautiful a bunch of vintage chandeliers would look in the massive sycamore on his front lawn. Don’t forget to feed the meter, it’s has to be expensive to keep the tree lit.
You’re going to need your rest because tomorrow, we flea.
No, not this flea.
The Rose Bowl flea market happens the second Sunday of every month (that’s this week!) and it. is. massive. If you want, you can go at 5:00 AM. That’s right, the VIP $20 admission starts at 5. That’s when the “best” stuff comes out, but I’ll stroll in at 9 AM, thank you very much.
You can find hipster clothes, textiles, midcentury modern furniture, even designer goods here. Your legs will already be sore from the day before, and now they will actively revolt, but push through! There’s so much to see. Make sure you bring enough cash though, there are no ATMs inside and you’ll have to walk all the way out to the front.
Because you haven’t punished your legs enough, one last stop. Smorgasburg LA is a weekly food market that features on trend instagram pop up restaurants…and the food is actually good! It’s just really hot and the lines are really long. The most popular stalls feature Shrimp Daddy’s pineapple basket of shrimp, the Base jarred juices, MidEast fusion tacos, hot chicken sandos at Rooster Republic and acai sweetness at Amazebowls.
It is hot as hell in this large open ROW DTLA space, usually occupied by the Alameda Produce Market. If there’s one complaint (and there’s actually a few complaints), it would be that there needs to be more beverage vendors. A few coffee and tea places, and Base, which serves fruit juices in questionably cute jars, is not cutting it.
But I’ll forgive this transgression because there is free parking. And that is truly the best way to end a weekend in LA, on a high note with free parking.
More LA itineraries to come…eating through this town one place at a time…
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