Los Angeles: hate the traffic and smog, love to visit once in a while. Although I’ve called the Bay Area home for the last 12 years, I’ve traveled frequently enough to SoCal to have a few favorite spots in LA. Here is my off the beaten path guide to LA.
1. Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Those who know me know I have a penchant cemeteries and I’m forever on a PR mission to change the bad rep cemeteries have for being morbid and ghoulish–although a particularly creepy cemetery does have its appeal to me! The Hollywood Forever cemetery is not your usual somber cemetery. It’s a beautiful green space filled with immaculate gardens, palm trees, ponds, and the famous dead. If you can get tickets to the popular Cinespia events hosted there, you’ll be able to enjoy an open-air movie projected on the wall of a mausoleum. Sadly, there wasn’t a showing on the weekend I was there, but we did enjoy a nice picnic among some friendly looking tombs.
2. Thai Town. This stretch of East Hollywood has some of the best Thai restaurants I’ve ever been to even though Thai food is ubiquitous here in the Bay Area. My favorite dish is the catfish salad. The catfish is deep fried into a crispy lattice and it perfectly compliments the tangy tamarind and green papaya.
4. Watts Tower. A truly inspirational work of love by one man, who built towering mosaic structures using all recycled parts. You can spend hours here getting lost in the details of each tile.
3. Bergamot Station. A cute cluster of art galleries in Santa Monica. It’s a nice spot to relax with some coffee and enjoy the local art scene.
4. The Sunken City. This is the spot to hang out if you want to feel like a badass. You have to maneuver across a locked fence, walk for a ways in the general direction of the ocean until suddenly you’ll come to the edge of a cliff and graffiti-ed ruins of some washed away town. The crowd here is a mostly local mix: high schoolers taking selfies, hip film makers, skaters, jocks, and couples who thought this would be a romantic date spot. We climbed around the ruins and people watched until the police came and kicked everyone out for trespassing–hence the badassery.
5. Old LA Zoo. This was a hidden gem that we’ve discovered in Griffith Park. If you want your hike to take on a sense of adventure, then definitely look this place up. After the LA zoo moved, a lot of the old animal enclosures and attractions were simply abandoned and left for nature to take over. You can duck inside the cages and experience for a moment the cramped life of an old school zoo animal.
6. Museum of Jurassic Technology. This museum is not for everyone. But if you are curious and intrigued by the weird, then you might just like it. I came away more confused than ever about everything I’ve just seen. The hidden gem of this place is definitely their unexpected rooftop garden. Sipping a cup of tea while listening to the sound of cooing doves and bubbling fountains in the garden was probably the highlight of my experience.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini guide. I’ll be continuing my LA guide series by sharing my favorite hikes for views, Downtown LA, and beach neighborhoods soon!