My Favorite, Must-See Places in Los Angeles

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I complain about Los Angeles.  A lot.

Yet beneath all of its guck and yuck, Los Angeles does have some gems.  While I officially rank Los Angeles as the worst city I’ve lived in thus far, I still think it’s a great place to visit (especially if you live in a colder state–L.A. is great for winters!).

Whenever I need to feel a little better about Los Angeles (or have my friends from afar in town), I go to my favorite spots.  Usually starting with…..

Taking in the Waves at Manhattan Beach

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Forget Santa Monica.  While it’s nice, it’s just a bunch of shopping centers next to an overcrowded beach.

Escape the crowds and consumerism and go to lovely Manhattan Beach, only a ten minute drive from LAX airport.

Manhattan Beach is a rich and ritzy area of town, but the beach is far cleaner than Santa Monica or Venice and the view from the pier is to die for.

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The area surrounding the beach itself is also nice, with little shops, restaurants, bars, and–get this–cheap and available parking!  Manhattan Beach is a great place to go on a Sunday morning, watch the sunrise, get a coffee, and then catch brunch with your friends (don’t forget to down a mimosa–or ten).

Stuff Yourself Silly in Koreatown

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Los Angeles has a HUGE Koreatown, and it knocks all the other ‘towns’ out by far.

There’s a reason that Anthony Bourdain’s Los Angeles episode featured Koreatown, and Koreatown alone.

Although Koreatown is not walkable (it could almost be a city in its own right, it would take 20 minutes just to drive from one end to the other), a short drive around this neighborhood will give you some of the best Korean food America can offer, on par with Seoul.

My favorite place to eat is a little hole in the wall called Ham Ji Park.  They have AMAZING spare ribs.  You’ll see a line of Koreans around the block to get into the place, so make sure to dine here before 5 or after 9.  It’s a must.

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Whether you want to shop for Korean cosmetics, take home some baked Korean goods or gorge yourself on affordable and delectable Korean BBQ, Koreatown in L.A. is a must see–especially for foodies.

Skip Chinatown and Little Tokyo and just go to Koreatown.  Thank me later.

Have Your Jaw Drop at Rancho Palos Verdes

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When I drive down the coast along Ranchos Palos Verdes, it’s probably the one and only time I wish I had a convertible–because the views are stunning.

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Although I wouldn’t recommend swimming at the beach on Rancho Palos Verdes, I still suggest that all visitors drive up and down this coast to drink in the amazing views.  Los Angeles has a host of beaches, but this is the only place where the rocks splash against the cliff side and give onlookers backdrops of the Pacific coast.

L.A. isn't all bad.. I think.

Hike Up Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory was built to house its gigantic telescope, but now it has become famous as one of the best spots to get a bird’s eye view of Los Angeles.  If you’re going to go anywhere for a panoramic shot of L.A., go here.  It’s a must for all visitors.

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My favorite part of the observatory is not the peak of the hill itself, but the many hiking trails branching off from the top.  This is one of the few places in Los Angeles that has trees, peace and quiet.  One of the trails here even leads to the Hollywood Sign, which is far better than Hollywood itself (trust me).  It’s a great place to escape the hustle of L.A., even if for a moment.griffith

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And Finally, My Favorite Spot in Los Angeles is…

My favorite spot in all of Los Angeles is none other than The Getty Museum.

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Funded completely on the inheritance of Los Angeles’ richest business tycoon, Paul Getty was dedicated to art both in and after life.  He entrusted a very large chunk of his will to The Getty, a gigantic art museum atop one of Los Angeles’ highest hills, housing hundreds of pieces of classical and contemporary artwork, as well as some of the most stunning views of Los Angeles.

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Entrance for all visitors is free, just like Mr. Getty intended it to be.  He wanted everyone to enjoy the beauty of art, whether you were rich or poor.

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For me, Los Angeles is a busy, hectic place.  It’s clogged, it’s polluted, it’s noisy, and it’s a dog eat dog world.  It’s not an easy place to live.  Sometimes, you need a place where you can take a deep breath and escape from it all.

For me, my city sanctuary is The Getty.

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It’s silent.  The museum is completely white.  Views from the balcony of the museum give you not only the best vantage point of Los Angeles, but also has great views of the Pacific Ocean.  For me, The Getty is my safe haven from Los Angeles itself.  Even if you don’t like art, the Getty is worth seeing for the architecture, the views, and the cactus garden.

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While L.A. has its bad, it definitely has its good spots.  I can say with confidence that Los Angeles will most definitely not become my home, but I know that–no matter what–I’ll be back for a visit.

Where is your “City Sanctuary?”  What do you love about your city?

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite, Must-See Places in Los Angeles

  1. autumnashbough says:

    You are so right about Manhattan Beach — way better than Santa Monica. If you want an even smaller beach spot with restaurants, you can head a few miles south to the Riviera Village, which is right up against the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The drive around the Peninsula starts after the Riviera at lovely Malaga Cove, and it is as gorgeous as you say. It’s also beloved by cyclists. Sometimes there are so many on Saturday mornings that I want to scream, “Allez! Peloton!”

    And yes, because it’s remote, sometimes bodies get dumped on the Peninsula, but it’s very infrequent. Promise. And the sunsets are totally worth it.

    • rubymary says:

      No way!!! Bodies get dumped there!?! Wow, you know everything about L.A., haha. Even where to hide the bodies… dun dun.

      Anyway, I’ve never heard of Malaga Cove. Palos Verdes is definitely the most ‘stunning,’ although it’s hard to actually do any activities there other than go ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh.’ I’ll have to take the drive around to see Malaga Cove.

      I do complain about LA a lot, but there is so much to see and do here…. it’s just getting around that’s the tricky part (darn you traffic!).

      If you have any other LA suggestions let me know! I’m still a novice compared to you!

  2. autumnashbough says:

    If you drove around the Peninsula, you passed Malaga Cove. It’s the place where it is mandatory to have cream houses with red tile roofs.

    I think you just happened to pick my specialty for your favorite places — the South Bay area.

    Love the Koreatown recommendations.

    For dim sum, though, you have to go to Monterrey Park’s Empress Harbor. Andy won’t eat Chinese food anywhere else. 🙂 Although, a friend of mine tried the new Din Tai Fung for dim sum down in Orange County and loved it.

  3. R Zhao says:

    I’ve been to LA a couple times because one of my good friends used to live there. The weather is great and the ocean is beautiful, but I couldn’t imagine living there. Coming from the Midwest, I was just not comfortable there–the lifestyle is so different from what I’m used to. I guess that’s a strange thing to say coming from someone who has lived in China for a decade, but with China I just always expected it to be different. I don’t like feeling out of place in my own country.

    BTW, I do remember loving the Getty.

    • rubymary says:

      I think you wrote the perfect quote there, Rosie: “I don’t like feeling out of place in my own country.” I was wondering how to summarize how I felt about my return to the USA, and this is it EXACTLY. I really feel like a foreigner in LA, and even after a year it feels awful. I thought because L.A. and Utah are both on the west coast it would be more similar, but it’s actually quite different. I bet Utah is more like the midwest, where people enjoy life rather than focusing on how to get ahead in life.

      But yes, I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to LA!!! And I’m glad I have a fellow Getty fan 🙂

      • Eileen黃愛玲 says:

        “I don’t like feeling out of place in my own country.” Oh, man. Bingo. I was wondering why I had such a hard time adjusting in Florida than in Shanghai (mind you, I lived near Miami where it’s not like in the movies and it’s not Disney World or Key West). I think I just had an aha moment here…don’t mind me…

    • rubymary says:

      All that meat was FOR ME! MWAHA!

      ….I wish, ha. It was split between the four of us but it was so good I could have eaten more 😀

      Yay! I like the cactus garden, too. California is in a massive drought so I salute all establishments that do away with water-heavy landscaping and replace it with desert gardens (i.e. cactus garden). I get really upset when I see people wasting so much water on sprinklers to water their front yard everyday, when this state is almost completely out of freshwater. It’s crazy.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment 🙂

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