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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
And Finally, My Favorite Spot in Los Angeles is…
My favorite spot in all of Los Angeles is none other than The Getty Museum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?