Los Angeles is one of America’s most iconic cities, so creating a temporary housing guide is ambitious, to say the least. You don’t even have to visit Hollywood to experience days or weeks of entertainment venues, sports, museums, eateries, beach activities or mountain activities. LA suits just about any lifestyle, and it doesn’t take long to find your niche.
That said, LA can easily get overwhelming if you’re new to the city. While the weather and the topography can’t be beat, knowing where to start can be tough to decide.
We’ll help you tackle it.
Four Recommended LA “To-Dos”
- Venice Beach — Though it doesn’t quite match up to the grandeur of the actual city of Venice, you can unmistakably spot the inspiration of the beach’s namesake from the canals and the architecture. You probably won’t be coming here for a gondola ride, though. Instead, you’ll be walking along the boardwalk observing an eclectic (if a bit odd) cast of characters. After people watching, you can then migrate to the shops and restaurants nearby if you’ve got a little extra time.
- Museum Row — LA’s museum row is a place you could explore for days, so we definitely recommend visiting more than once if you can. Here you’ll find the LA County Museum of Art, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the LA Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
- The Getty Center — One of the nation’s architectural gems, The Getty Center also holds some of the world’s finest art. From modern art to famous works from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, this establishment holds it all. If you can arrange it, definitely set up a guided tour of the full campus.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame — If you can get past the generally touristy vibe, this is actually a great place to explore the history of filmmaking. It’s a monument to celebrity culture (take that for what you will), but the names included are awe-inspiring and hard to forget.
Where to Eat in LA
- Jon and Vinny’s — If you’re looking for a bit of a modern flair to traditional Italian dishes, this is the place you go in LA. Their pizzas and pasta compete for best in the city, so it’s important that you arrive a little early to beat the rush. There are also plenty of off-the-wall menu choices, like brûléed grapefruit, and the ambiance certainly reflects this culinary approach.
- Sonoratown — The menu is simple, but the tacos are excellent — and affordable! Whether you’re in a carne asada, pollo or chorizo mood, your meat will be served in a flour tortilla with red salsa and avocado.
- Vespertine — If you’re seeking a dining experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen or tried (in any city), Vespertine is worth a serious look. While it’s certainly not on the cheap end (think $250-a-person kind of occasion), you’re paying for far more than your typical dinner out on the town. The restaurant is the vision of Chef Jordan Kahn, which combines a culinary tasting adventure with music, architecture, art and sculpture for an event that engages the senses. The culinary-art fusion is as ambitious as it is wild.
- Mh Zh — If you’ve made the trip to Vespertine, it might be wise to go back to some budget options. You don’t have to stick to the generic options, though. Mh Zh offers unique Middle Eastern entrees that won’t break the bank and will keep you coming back for more. The place is small, but the food is amazing.
Where to Shop in LA
- The Grove — Located in West Hollywood, The Grove is often packed with eager shoppers and you’ll find everything from department stores (Nordstrom) to boutique shops (Diane von Furstenberg, Jenni Kayne). Once you need a break from shopping, stop by the Bar Verde at Nordstrom or enjoy some fresh sushi at Blue Ribbon.
- Fashion District — You won’t find a uniform style in L.A., and people take their fashion quite seriously. If you’re looking for lucrative deals on new clothes to compliment your wardrobe, this is a good place to start.
- Melrose Trading Post — Spending more time outdoors is always a good idea in L.A., so this open-air market is a welcome sight for shoppers. Here you’ll find live music, art displays, antiques, record shops and so much more.
Local Coffee Shops
- Groundwork Coffee — A Los Angeles coffee shop chain, you’ll find three locations dispersed throughout the city. You can also buy the teas and coffee right in the store or at some select local markets to make it for yourself. After drifting to the kitchen menu, a breakfast burrito or breakfast taco could be the start to the day you need.
- Endorffeine - Yes, the play on words in the name is fun. This is the place to go if you want your coffee brewed with supreme attention to detail and a little dessert on the side. That and your daily caffeine rush.
- Civil Coffee - Not exactly your typical coffeehouse, Civil Coffee in Highland Park has worked hard to evangelize its delicious coffee, whether they’re distributing at private weddings or massive music festivals. As the name implies, the design of the coffeehouse was made with approachability and civil discourse in mind.
Top School Districts
- San Marino Unified School District
- Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
- Irvine Unified School District
- LA Canada Unified School District
- Manhattan Beach Unified School District
- Arcadia Unified School District
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios Hollywood™ — No, your kids probably aren’t witches or wizards, but they can at least dive into the wizarding world of Harry Potter for a day. Journey into Hogwarts, soar above the castle, and enjoy a flagon of butterbeer (not actual beer) at the Three Broomsticks in Diagon Alley.
- Kidspace Children’s Museum — With more than three acres of outdoor activities, kids activities range from music jams to painting stations to mud and clay kitchens. Children have an opportunity to not only strike out on an adventure but explore their creative selves while learning a bit more about the world around them.