The City of Angels has no small reputation to live up to. As the home of thousands of celebrities, many people dream of one day living there. Yet, visitors often seem at a loss as to what to actually do in Los Angeles. It’s not like New York with something happening on every street corner, yet more and more New Yorkers move to L.A. so there has to be something happening, right? Yes, there is. It’s just a bit more relaxed. So bring your flip-flops and be ready to chill – SoCal style.
#1 Santa Monica On A Sunday Afternoon
Speaking of chilling, this is one of the Angelenos’ favorite things to do. It’s preceded only by exercising and eating healthily. So, it is no surprise that on a Sunday afternoon you will find many Angelenos making their way down to Santa Monica to chill, work out and potentially sip smoothies in the sunshine. Some opt for surfing, others for walking, jogging, cycling or rollerblading from Venice to Santa Monica and back again (including people who carry their pets, most notably parrots and snakes, with them).
Just after Santa Monica pier, if you are walking towards Venice Beach, you will find a set of rings that various people attempt acrobatic stunts in, as well as slack lines set up for people to practice their balance and acro mats to do Acro Yoga. Hanging about are also circus artists and amateurs practicing juggling and other tricks. Join the fun, or sit down as a spectator. All are welcome so long as they are nice, as this is a real community of people.
If you want a freak show, just walk all the way to Venice and get a ticket.
#2 The Magic Castle
So Criss Angel, Penn and Teller and David Copperfield may spend most of their time in Las Vegas and Derren Brown lives in London, but chances are when they are in town they will stop by at The Magic Castle – a private membership club for magicians and lovers of magic. Most Angelenos have, at some point, stopped by for dinner or brunch. However, only magicians can access the library. Not to worry – once or twice a year they offer a course for magicians so that those who want to join as magicians can do so – as long as you pass the test, of course.
The issue with visiting The Magic Castle? a) You need to adhere to a strict dress code. b) You need to be invited by a member. So what to do? Well, there’s a thing called Google…and some members have been known to invite people if you ask them. Kindly.
#3 Detox Your Life
That’s the title of a book by Shazzie, a British raw foodist (highly recommended reading if you want a pesticide free life) but Los Angeles itself is all about detoxing.
It may be known for being a smoggy city (really, it isn’t that bad, but the desert winds do stir up some dust from time to time), but everyone and their dog drives a hybrid Toyota (and yes, a lot of Angelenos do have a dog. If they can drive is questionable. Both the Angelenos and the dogs), everyone shops at Whole Foods or the nearest health food store (never ever mention chemical detergents if you want to make friends in this town), yoga is a way of life and healthy diets aren’t an option – they are the way and the only way. As a result, you will find a number of culinary institutes that serve vegan and raw foods such as Cafe Gratitude (where you order bowls of Hearty, Wholesome and Fulfilled), M.A.K.E., Juliano’s Raw and Rawvolution.
In other words, if you want to find out where the Angelenos eat, find out the latest healthy diet options, then find the matching restaurants on Yelp. If in a rush, just eat at Whole Foods. You will find more good looking people per square meter in Whole Foods than pretty much anywhere else. Potentially Erewhon (L.A.’s oldest health food store) is the one place to beat Whole Foods – everyone in there looks like a model. It will make you a believer in the benefits of healthy foods in minutes.
Downtown is no longer all about gang wars. There are now hipsters and art as well. Go for an art walk, or check out the latest bars and clubs. One thing is for sure: There will be no bouncers that let you stand in the back of the line if you aren’t wearing a short skirt and enough makeup to be mistaken for a clown. That’s reserved for the Hollywood clubs, which can be fun too – just remember the dress code and, if you can, get to know the promoters who will get you past the line.
#5 Summer Concerts and Movies
Want to watch movies in a cemetery? No? Then you might not like hanging out with Angelenos in summer, as that’s…well, that’s what we do! Outdoor movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.
As I mentioned, Angelenos are obsessed with keeping fit. Put on some makeup (no, really) and head to Runyon Canyon for a jog or donation based outdoor yoga classes. If you want to wear less makeup, head out to the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu for hikes in the mountains.
#7 The Sunset Strip
If you want luxury and a calm vibe, join the fancy crew at the strip. Have a coffee at Primo, work out at Equinox, grab drinks at The Standard, go clubbing at Sky Bar, sip cocktails at the Chateau Marmont bar, or dine at the Chateau Marmont Hotel (cameras and staring at celebrities are forbidden here, bear in mind). For the intellectually inclined, there’s also Book Soup – one of L.A.’s many cooky bookshops.
#8 Farmers Markets
As mentioned – a healthy lifestyle is a way of life. Check out the Hollywood as well as Santa Monica Farmers Markets, which are bustling with life, food and entertainment.
#9 The Grove
The Grove is an outdoors shopping mall where students and writers gather at Barnes and Noble, the families at The Cheesecake Factory, the couples at the fancy restaurants or Farmers Market and the movie lovers at the fabulous cinema.
Want more ideas? Tweet me – @OhMyMontgomery.