I call myself an LA native, but in reality, I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and made the coastal move at the youthful age of 5. I grew up in a beautiful bedroom community on the outskirts of Los Angeles called Palos Verdes.
I now reside in the Hollywood Hills. To kick off my travel section, I thought I’d share 10 things I love about the city I call home.
1. Driving down the Esplanade in the South Bay.
My go to way to de-stress is to take a scenic drive. A favorite route of mine is to drive south of the Redondo Beach Pier down the Esplanade, heading towards Palos Verdes at dusk. The way the light catches the Peninsula reminds me why I adore LA, and knowing you’re at the very point where the land meets the sea on the West Coast feels quite humbling and special.
2. The Getty.
This is one that tops many people’s lists, I’m sure. But The Getty has been a source of inspiration for me, I’m a sucker for a museum. The views, the massive stone structure, and the incredible collection of work is the perfect weekend activity. Plus, it’s free ––only $15 to park. The current photo exhibit, Josef Koudelka, is a real treat.
3. Paradise Cove, Malibu.
I’m not much of a beach person. In fact, I really don’t like being in the water, avoid the sun at all costs, and have a perpetual vendetta against sand. That aside, I’ll make the trek down to Paradise Cove… because nothing really beats a cabana and a cocktail. If you’re ever there and see a really pale woman with a sun hat and a rash guard, it’s probably me, come say hi.
4. Pingtung on Melrose.
Photo courtesy Instagram @PingtungMelrose
Happy hour is great, but happy hour comes with a time constraint. Enter: Pintung, the eternally inexpensive, Asian eat-in-market. This little joint is nestled on Melrose next to my favorite bar, Melrose Umbrella. With beer, saki, and a belly full of food, you’re sure not to spend more than $40 a person. My favorite dishes: Beef Roll, Pea Shoots, Spicy Miso Soup, Shrimp Potstickers, and a pitcher of Kirin.
5. Chateau Marmont.
God, I freaking love the Chateau Marmont. Hollywood hot spots manage to lose luster quarterly, but the Chateau Marmont has mastered the impossible –– perpetual coolness. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t care what event / dinner / gathering is there, when I see Chateau listed as the locale, consider me there! Not even kidding. I had my 25th birthday party at Bungalow 1… holding hotel keys has never felt so glamorous. They are thick golden keys with heavy burgundy tassels that perfectly convey the mantra of the hotel, Old Hollywood glamour. Oh, and if you eat there, always get the salmon.
6. Temescal Canyon.
If you live in LA and you don’t take advantage of the many hikes that surround us, you’re really missing out on some free and fun exercise. There are the usual suspects — Runyon (which smells like dog piss) and Griffith (which is nice). But my top pick? Temescal Canyon. It’s a little bit of a drive, but worth it. The views are great, the hike is scenic, and you get a diverse range of nature — ocean, waterfalls, and trellised trees that make you feel like your eons away from LA. Plus, it makes my puppy tired and that’s always a plus.
Obviously had to include my favorite festival, Coachella. Yeah I know, it’s not in LA — but living here means Palm Springs is a mere 2 hour drive. It’s lost it’s intimacy over the years, but it’s still one of my favorite weekends of the year. I mean, if you’re sweltering hot, have walked so much your feet burn and your back hurts, are covered in dust, and can’t get a ride home, but you still come out having a blast … it must be one hell of a festival! Right? I only do VIP now (sounds silly, I know) but it’s a real game changer. No bathroom lines, easy uber access, and a front row view to the main stage are enough reasons for me.
8. The Theater at the Ace Hotel
Photo courtesy of Instagram @ckaedingcolor
I see a lot of concerts, but this new spot in downtown beats out every other venue by a lot. The Theater at the Ace Hotel is the actual foundation for the hotel, dating back to 1925. This restored, 1,600 seat theater has a Gaudi-esque lobby that ushers you into a pitched, stoic space. Lofted balconies and detail for days, your eyes and ears can get lost here. I got to see Blood Orange perform here and I’m counting down the minutes until I get to go back. Expert advice — make a dinner reservation at the hotel’s restaurant, L.A. Chapter prior.
9. Yamashiro Farmer’s Market.
The Yamashiro Farmer’s Market is seasonal — it makes me so sad! It’s every Thursday until 9pm from May 22 to Sept 6. They provide a free shuttle service from a parking lot on La Brea and Franklin, and it moves pretty fast. You’re greeted by a variety of produce stands and my personal favorite, the hummus guy, along with live music. Free samples galore! But don’t get carried away because there are lots of dinner options. I typically get a bottle of wine and watch the sunset because it’s the best view in LA. I like to head over to the bar above the Magic Castle after the sun sets and the wine runs out for one last night cap.
10. Sleepy Hollow
Talk about keeping up with the Jones’s! Sleepy Hollow also known as Candy Cane Lane is a community in Redondo Beach that goes ALL OUT when it comes to festive lighting. Each house is more magical than the last. The most delightful part are the children selling hot cocoa and holiday flair. Prepare for traffic, it does take a minute, but the light displays are worth the bumper to bumper wait.