Destination

tables, chairs and umbrellas with shops on both sides

As an LA native, I absolutely love sharing what makes Los Angeles truly special.

From the icons like the Getty and Santa Monica Pier, to the underrated gems like the Descanso Gardens, Los Angeles is one of the most unique places to visit.

Bursting with diversity, this cultural melting pot, of course, has some of the best food in the entire country, making it quite difficult to say goodbye.

With these tips and recommendations, I’m excited to share a deeper guide to Los Angeles, off the beaten path, so you can experience LA like a local!

Things I Like to Do in LA

1. Visit the Original Farmers Market

The Original Farmers Market in LA

Los Angeles has a number of fantastic markets scattered around the city, but my favorite is one of the most historic and classic ones, the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax.

It’s located near Mid-Wilshire and is full of must-try vendors. My favorites are Littlejohn’s English Toffee (try a free sample), Nonna’s Empanadas, and Magee’s House of Nuts with homemade peanut butter.

2. Take the Metro Into Downtown for the Day

A railway track surrounded by highrise buildings
Angels Flight Railway

One of my favorite ways to spend an inexpensive day in Los Angeles is by taking the Metro into downtown and walking around.

I like to tour The Last Bookstore, one of the most photo-friendly spots in the city, the Bradbury building with its beautiful wrought-iron interior, and Angels Flight Railway, the shortest railway in the world!

Grab a bite to eat from Grand Central Market where Sarita’s Pupuseria is my favorite, followed by ice cream from Mitchell’s.

3. Enjoy One of the City’s Events

tents and a lot of people at an outdoor fair
LA county fair

Locals love getting outside and capitalizing on all the wonderful events the city hosts.

Summer is the most popular time for events since the weather is nicest. Try the Los Angeles County Fair in May, the 626 Night Market during mid-to-late summer, and Cinespia’s outdoor film series at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

During winter, the LA Zoo Lights are fun. And year-round, visit Griffith Observatory during one of their monthly Public Star Parties to observe the skies!

4. Go to the Autry Museum of the American West

Interior of a museum with historic items

Often overlooked, one of my favorite museums in the city is the Autry Museum of the American West. Not only does it provide interesting context for the history of Los Angeles, but for the many cultures and peoples that shaped the West as a whole.

This museum covers everything with exhibits including the Cowboy Gallery, a western Ethnobotanical garden, the Colt Revolver, Incarceration in the West, Western Journeys, and Native Resistance in the Missions.

I highly recommend it to learn more about the Western United States – stuff even locals don’t know!

5. Cross This off Your Bucket List

people on a stage looking at a tv show recording

One of the most once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Los Angeles is attending a TV show taping.

It’s not every day you can catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes of your favorite movies and TV shows, so going to a taping is truly unique.

You do need tickets ahead of time and you can request them for free from companies like 1iota.

I’ve seen Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, That’s So Raven, Cory in the House, and Suite Life of Zack and Cody (back in Disney Channel’s heyday!).

It’s one of the most unique things to do in the city and will certainly leave you with lifelong memories…not to mention, it’s quite fun to rewatch the episode years later and remember your experience.

6. Get Into Local Sports

an open air stadium with several people
The Dodgers Stadium

We bleed blue in Los Angeles. That means we love our LA Dodgers (our Major League Baseball team), the Los Angeles Lakers (our National Basketball Association team), and the LA Kings (our National Hockey League team).

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in local life is to attend a sports game.

Dodgers Stadium is in a particularly great spot on a hill overlooking downtown LA, and the LA Lakers play in what’s locally called The Crypt aka Crypto.com Arena near one of the best entertainment complexes in the city, LA Live. You can find Lakers tickets at this tickets reservation page.

My Favorite Places to Eat & Drink in LA

1. Go to Beabea’s for the Best Brunch

A plate of pancakes with a juice in the background

With locations in Burbank and Glendale, you can’t go wrong at Beabea’s.

They serve up some of the best brunch in Los Angeles, especially their insane pancakes. My favorite are the pumpkin pancakes, appropriately named Just For You Pumpkin, which have pumpkin cream cheese marmalade to die for!

Also try their Thai tea pancakes, coco Caribbean french toast, and peach flambé crepes!

2. To Meet up With Friends for a Drink, My Favorite Is Castaway in Burbank

3 people's feet around an outdoor fireplace

I love Castaway in Burbank for drinks because not only are they delicious, but the location is stunning.

Their patio has firepits that you can spend all night relaxing by. Plus, the views over the valley are beautiful because Castaway sits atop a hill.

I guarantee you won’t know where the time went as you spend all night chatting with your friends over drinks.

3. For a Cheap and Delicious Dinner, Look No Further Than Tacos

Several tacos and a fork
Guisado’s in LA

Street tacos are always the way to go if you want something filling, inexpensive, and delicious. The best part is that you can usually just drive until you see a taco truck and they’ll always be good. I’ve never had a bad taco in Los Angeles.

Alternatively, a local favorite is Guisado’s which is a sit down taco shop that serves slow braised meat tacos. You can order a sampler, which for $11.25 gives you 6 different tacos to try (that’s less than $2 per taco!).

4. For a Fancy Night Out, Visit Musso and Frank Grill

A dark, fancy looking bar with a waiter and several glasses

This classic Hollywood restaurant opened in 1919 and is considered Hollywood’s oldest eatery. It’s full of red booths, low lighting, and a beautiful and historic bar.

Many Hollywood stars were known to come here including Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, and Grouch Marx.

Be sure to try their sidecar cocktail, it’s a classic!

5. Don’t Miss a Trip to In-N-Out

A burger and fries on a red tray

It wouldn’t be a local guide to Los Angeles without a mention of In-N-Out. We love our burgers, fries, and milkshakes and most LA natives who return to the city after a time away make this their first stop when they get home.

For a classic meal, have a double-double with fries and a chocolate shake. But, any local will be happy to share their favorite secret menu item! Mine are the cheese fries and neapolitan shake. Other favorites are animal style fries that come with cheese, grilled onions, and “secret” sauce.

Where I’d Recommend to Stay In LA

Palm trees and a sign saying 'Beverly Hills Hotel'

To be most central to many attractions in Los Angeles, the Mid-Wilshire area is fantastic! It’s within walking distance to the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA), La Brea Tar Pits, Petersen Automotive Museum, and more!

For a classic Los Angeles stay, visit the Beverly Hills Hotel with its palm trees and pink decor. It’s where famous Hollywood stars used to stay and vacation including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Humphrey Bogart.

Other Tips for a Local Experience in LA

1. Rent a Car – We All Drive

While you certainly can see much of the city by public transportation, I always recommend renting a car.

Not only does it give you the most freedom to explore beyond where public transport goes, but you can also be 100% on your own time. In a city as large as Los Angeles, waiting for buses and the Metro can eat up your precious exploration time.

2. Tips for Finding Events to Meet Locals

A fountain at a shopping mall
The Grove in LA

If you’re looking to find smaller, local events, Meetup.com is one of your best resources. You can find everything from online gamer meetups to wellness circles and disco nights. Don’t forget to search by specific city within Los Angeles as that will help you narrow down your locale.

Another way to find events is to keep track of the event calendars at popular hosting venues like the Whisky-A-Go-Go for music, Hollywood Bowl for concerts, Rose Bowl for flea markets, sports games, and concerts.

For example, the Grove, an outdoor shopping mall, often hosts authors at their 3-story Barnes and Noble, movie premiers at their theatre, and pop culture pop-ups in their event space.  To give you an idea, I went to a Stranger Things Store pop up there with lots of fun photo opps and themed food and drinks.

3. Understanding the Weather

While Los Angeles is warm and sunny most of the time, we do have some important exceptions to remember when planning your trip.

We have April Showers, May Grey, and June Gloom. Those months can be more fickle and bring overcast days with occasional rain.

Another one to be aware of is the El Niño season, which is from December through April. This is when we sometimes have storms because of changes in the ocean surface temperature.

Finally, the Santa Anas are strong winds that can happen from September to December.

All this to say, chances are you’ll have sunny days, but don’t think that just because LA is portrayed as always sunny that the weather behaves that way all the time.

4. Don’t Go to Hollywood

A red star on the pavement with the text 'Robin Williams'

Okay, let me explain. Hollywood is not like you’ve seen in the movies. In reality, it’s grungy, dirty, and full of interesting people including scammers.

I actually would never tell anyone to flat out not go somewhere, because let’s face it, if you’ve never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame or TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre, you have to do it at least once. It’s a bucket list thing.

Still, I do recommend you lower your expectations and remain extra vigilant with your belongings.

Conclusion – LA Off the Beaten Path

A white building with 2 domes, a green lawn and a white statue
Griffith Observatory

LA is a great city with so many different layers to uncover.

Yes, do visit some of the tourist attractions that have made this city famous. But I hope my local tips help you to see more than just that. To experience the ”real” LA the way we do.

Enjoy this city!

Also Read:

  • What to Do in Los Angeles With Kids
  • 2 Days in Los Angeles: The Must-Sees on a Short Visit
  • The Best Day Trips From Los Angeles
  • Planning a Perfect Catalina Island Visit From LA
  • Unique Hotels in Southern California – Including Several in LA
  • How to Travel Off the Beaten Path No Matter the Destination

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