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Visiting Los Angeles


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Happened upon a low airfare so took advantage.  Will be spending four days in LA in February.  I don't know the first thing about the place so I'm not sure where even to book a hotel.  Is Santa Monica a good area to stay in?  How about West Hollywood?  To make it even more confusing, we don't even know what we're going to be doing with our time, with one exception: we're going to head to Joshua Tree National Park for one day.

Thanks for any tips.

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Happened upon a low airfare so took advantage.  Will be spending four days in LA in February.  I don't know the first thing about the place so I'm not sure where even to book a hotel.  Is Santa Monica a good area to stay in?  How about West Hollywood?  To make it even more confusing, we don't even know what we're going to be doing with our time, with one exception: we're going to head to Joshua Tree National Park for one day.

Thanks for any tips.

Oooh, fun! Joshua Tree is wonderful and has amazing sky-viewing on clear nights, so if possible, try to plan to spend a night in the park (no lodging facilities in the park, so camping is the best option, which I realize might not be practical for a short trip, but just wanted to get that out there!) or close to it. Santa Monica, with its sunny, beachy nature and tons of vacationer hotels, would be a good contrast to JT. However, I would warn that LA, more than other cities, is really spread out and driving across it to different destinations takes a lot of time. To make the most of your limited time, I would first figure out the activities you want to do and places you want to eat (ideally, pick things close to each other!) and then choose a central or nearby location to one of them. If you want to spend time at the Santa Monica Pier, perhaps the canals of Venice, and scoping out Muscle and Venice beaches (all worthy of notice), then SM would be a great choice. Also, the Getty Villa is super close to SM. If, however, you're more into, say, museums, shows, concerts, and TV/theme park stuff (e,g., LACMA, a studio tour, Universal, Pantages Theater), I'd perhaps stay more in the Hollywood-Burbank area. There is good food proximate to pretty much every activity, but it might not have been the food you were looking for, so if you're looking to go to specific restaurants/food types (a totally valid vacation itinerary IMO - for example, this San Gabriel Valley food tour), I'd pick somewhere central to them. So it really depends! Get thee to a general list of LA activities (like this one or this one), and once you have a few picks, it will be easier to plan the rest.

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Joshua Tree National Park (Sundae in the Park)

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Kind of random, but want to put it out there that the LACMA (LA County Museum of Art), Autry National Center (3-in-1 Museum of the American West, Southwest Museum of the American Indian, and Institute for the Study of the American West), and the Skirball Cultural Center (Jewish heritage) are all part of Bank of America's Museums on Us promotion. So, if you're carrying any BOA cards, flash them and basic entry to these spots are all free on the first full weekend of the month. I particularly love the LACMA, which is right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (indoor museum is not free, but worth a look; outdoor exhibits are free and accessible). Even if you don't go indoors at the LACMA, the grounds include the Big Rock, the modern sculpture garden, the lamplights, the outdoor Rodin sculptures, the yellow spaghetti (Jesíºs Rafael Soto's Penetrable), and the view of the Hollywood sign (up the escalator from the main outdoor courtyard, across from Ray's). Plus there is a big chunk of the Berlin wall across the street and usually a line of food trucks camping out there as well. And there are free concerts indoors and outdoors many weekends of the year. I think I'm saying you should definitely hit the LACMA if you are interested in any of these things! I take all my out-of-town guests there (the grounds between the museum and Tar Pits are great for running around with kids while pretending to soak in culture) and we've always had a great time.

Oh, and if you were planning to visit it anyway, the Grove and the Farmer's Market are only a few miles away, so pair well with going to the LACMA.

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For those planning trips to California that are interested in food, hiking, and photography (pretty much my top 3 interests, so YMMV), I really like this guy's blog: California Through My Lens. I particularly like the map interface to find blog posts about specific geographical areas. Even if you don't share his foods preferences (I'm more interested in his scenic hiking posts), he takes nice pictures and has great ideas about both more- and less-traveled gems all over CA.

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On 8/22/2017 at 10:21 AM, dcs said:

Reserve some advanced tickets (they are free) for The Broad on a Saturday or Sunday and make a day of it.  The Broad opens at 10am on the weekends.  I would reserve at 10 and be on line by 9:30 if you want a chance to get into Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room in any reasonable amount of time (there is a separate signup for this once you enter the museum).  The website says the Infinity Mirrored Room will not be available with free general admission beginning October 1, 2017 through early January 2018.  I am not sure if this means a fee will be applied, or if the exhibit will be closed, but the upcoming special exhibitions page indicates the slightly different titled Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors being exhibited Oct 21, 2017 - Jan 1, 2018.   eggslut and Wexler's both open at 8 so there is plenty of time to eat before heading to The Broad (it is only a couple of blocks and one steep hill away).  It is easy to while away several hours in this place and then it's either back to the Market for lunch, or somewhere else downtown.  It is all walkable.

What a great itinerary idea for combining The Broad and Grand Central Market!! It speaks perfectly to my desire to combine food and activities in a geographically efficient manner, with bonus points for walkability. Plus I've seen pictures/articles about the Mirrored Room and would love to see it or an iteration. Some more details about accessing The Broad:

  • the advanced reservations seem to go very quickly. There are currently no reservations available for Sept. Reservations are released at noon online on the first day of the month for the following month. Example - I will try to get tickets for sometime in October on Sept. 1.
  • you can try to get same-day general admission tickets via the onsite standby line, but I understand that the line can be quite long. Updates on line length are posted throughout the day via their Twitter feed.
  • the museum is closed on Mondays
  • The current Kusama exhibit is the Infinity Mirrored RoomThe Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. This exhibit will close at the end of September, and then on October 21, the space will reopen as a different, larger exhibit (Infinity Mirrors  - apparently the same exhibit that was at the Hirshhorn) and will require separate paid tickets from general admission.  
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On 2/1/2016 at 4:26 PM, Sundae in the Park said:

Oh, and if you were planning to visit it anyway, the Grove and the Farmer's Market are only a few miles away, so pair well with going to the LACMA.

We stumbled upon the Grove and Farmer's Market and enjoyed it.  We needed more time to take in the Farmer's Market.  There is a lot going on there.

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1 hour ago, mr food said:

There next week. Any updates on things to do? We are staying in Beverly Hills.

How many are going, how long are you staying, and what type of transportation will you have?

Are you looking primarily for non-restaurant things, and how far are you willing to stray? I spent about ten days in Brentwood earlier this Spring, so I'm fairly current, both in terms of dining, and not-dining.

Screenshot 2017-10-21 at 13.08.29.png

You should *absolutely* go to the Getty Center if you haven't been - it's sensational. If you aren't with children, you can spend a half-day there; if you are with children, you can still spend a couple of hours (note that once you commit to parking, you have a "fixed cost" of being there, as you have to take a funicular up from the parking lot, and parking is where you pay your money - sort of like the Udvar-Hazy Center, but even more so).

There's no reason not to stroll the campus of UCLA, parts of which are beautiful.

And here are some restaurants worth trying - if you want more information about any in particular, just ask. :)

Screenshot 2017-10-21 at 13.45.29.png

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Eater has a nice LA dining guide, including neighborhood-by-neighborhood suggestions. Maude and Spago, which are both suggested for Beverly Hills, are also recommended for that neighborhood in the 2017 LA Weekly 99 Essentials list.

Hahahaha, I had no idea where Beverly Hills was until you made me look. I'm not sure where I thought it was, but it's not where I'd imagined. Obviously there is shopping in Beverly Hills itself, but beyond that I don't know what to do there. Looking at a map, it's close to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which has wonderful grounds and is close to several other museums (see 3rd post in this thread). I agree with DR that either the Getty Center or the Getty Villa are wonderful experiences. Beyond simple proximity, there is a LOT to do in the greater LA area, so it just depends on your interests and how hard you are willing to work to get places ;-)

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My question is extremely late, but I’m in El Segundo for a couple of days. Other than in-n-out, are there any spots I should consider in the area?

Eh, no. Back when I stayed in hotels by the airport, I always headed up the 405 a few exits and hit whatever looked good on Sawtelle Blvd (usually Tsujita or the Annex; it's mostly but not all Asian food). Bonus - lots of places are open late.

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43 minutes ago, mr food said:

Thanks for  the suggestions. There are several places within walking distance of our hotel.

If you're going to random places because they're within walking distance, it's worth taking a Lyft to go to the places I recommended - they are tested-and-proven by moi.

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On 10/23/2017 at 9:10 PM, DonRocks said:

Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach! Go early or go late, and try to grab a bar seat.

I wasn’t in the mood to make the trek in hopes of getting a seat, but much to my surprise, Fishing with Dynamite was available from Uber Eats! 

Pictured below are gumbo, baby gem salad with green goddess dressing, and banana cream pie. 

The gumbo was exceptionally delicious; one of the best versions I’ve tasted. The salad was great as well. The salad was a great blend of textures and flavors. Crispy baby gem lettuce leaves, creamy green goddess dressing, smooth tomatoes, and crunchy nuts and toasted grains of some sort. 

The pie was the only week spot. The filling was nice, and it was topped with toffee bits and whipped cream, but the crust was unusually dense and chewy. 

Overall, it was a delicious meal. 

48AEC690-7502-49BC-A7D5-75371B93CBA7.jpeg

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