Back in 2012, I took my first trip to Los Angeles, California, and I instantly fell in love.
The collective lifestyle is everything that I hope to achieve. From the active runners on the sandy beaches in the early morning, to the quirky shops and eateries lining the streets, I felt like an ambitious kid in a candy store of creativity.
I traveled back to Los Angeles in 2015, and it was still just as inspiring as I remembered. Even in the dead of winter, a time where I normally lock myself in my room under the blankets as snow piles up outside, LA felt like an eternal summer.
Many people say California is “overrated”. I can understand why it’s not for everyone, and every state has its hits and misses, but to me, the pros of LA definitely outweigh the cons.
Keep in mind that I haven’t ventured far from Los Angeles, so I’m unable to speak for California as a whole, but Los Angeles itself just seems perfect for me.
Here are just a few of my favorite things to do in and around Los Angeles, as well as the sights that, personally, aren’t worth all the hype.
HIT: Hermosa Beach
If you choose one thing to do in/near Los Angeles, please take a little journey to Hermosa Beach. Sure it may be “just a beach” to some people, but it’s beautiful and it feels like so much more to me.
The most gorgeous houses line one side of the beach, along with a biking/walking/running/rollerblading/skateboarding/whatever-you-do-to-stay-active path. At one point, there’s a little shopping/eating area where we one day found a fresh outdoor farmer’s market set up.
What to do there: Ride a bike along the path! Both times we were there, we rented bikes and rode the length of the beach along the path. It’s especially beautiful to do in the morning when it’s more peaceful and quiet.
MISS: Venice Beach
Maybe I just didn’t see the right parts of Venice Beach, but to me it was underwhelming. A string of cheap, touristy, cheesy shops lined the beach by the street, and overall it just wasn’t as pretty as I expected it to be.
HIT: Mulholland Drive
One of my absolute favorite parts of LA is Mulholland Drive. It’s a beautiful, long, windy road that goes up the mountainside, with different areas dotted along the route for drivers to pull over and look out over the rolling hills and homes.
What to do there: I highly recommend taking the drive right after breakfast (or after that early morning bike ride)! The views with the early sun is breathtaking. Make sure you also take advantage of the overlooks! Pull over, get out of the car, and just soak it all in.
MISS: Hollywood Walk of Fame
Unless crowded, touristy, corny areas are your thing, don’t plan on the Hollywood Walk of Fame being your next favorite spot. It’s like Times Square in New York: you feel like you have to see it because it’s in all the movies, and you’re so close to it.
It’s one of those things where I saw it just to say that I saw it, and it’s safe to say that I will never go back to the Hollywood Walk of Fame again..until they make a star with my name on it, of course.
HIT: Rodeo Drive
A lot of people claim Rodeo Drive is “overrated”, but I have to disagree. Isn’t it so much fun walking into stores you know you’ll ever be able to afford anything in?
For real though, a great deal of the stores on Rodeo Drive have their own security personnel standing guard at the doors, which is intimidating enough, but it’s also pretty cool.
Even if you don’t walk into any of the shops (especially since you feel incredibly underdressed to go in any of them), the whole atmosphere of the drive is so glam and summery. It’s hard not to feel like a VIP when you stroll down the street with your beat-up sneakers and $20 Boscov’s purse.
What to do there: Rather than drool over the luxury handbags and sunglasses that cost more than your rent, take that drool over to Nate ’n Al’s for lunch! It’s located just one block east of Rodeo Drive, so it’s a quick walk. A countless number of stars have eaten here, and it’s easy to see why. It’s delicious, and they really do the business there!
MISS: The traffic
This one is unavoidable unless, of course, you walk or bike everywhere. LA traffic is the. WORST.
Even so, all the other amazing aspects of Los Angeles make up for this one setback. So if you don’t mind waiting behind an endless line of cars for hours on end, or you plan on spending a majority of your time walking and biking places, then maybe this won’t be much of a bother for you.
HIT: Free show tapings
Being able to be in the audience of a tv show taping is exciting enough, let alone being able to do it for free!
Our first time to Los Angeles, we were in the audience of The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno.
The second time was even better, when we were able to see the filming of Undateable: Live. Weezer was there to play songs for the scenes, and afterwards they performed a mini impromptu concert!
One person from the audience was even picked to play a background extra for the episode, and after filming, they handed out the episode’s scripts and we were able to meet some of the actors and get their autographs! All for free.
What to do: Go online to find free show taping tickets!! It’s so worth it, even if you don’t know what the show is.
We never saw Undateable before, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had on the trip! Make sure you get to the taping early enough too, since they give out more tickets than there are seats, and you could end up getting cut from the taping if the seats fill up before you get there.
All in all, LA is magical. The fit lifestyle, ritzy homes, and eternal summer weather are all enough to outweigh the undesirable bumper-to-bumper traffic.
If you’re considering going to California, make LA a priority, at least for a day. You won’t regret it.