If you’re headed to Los Angeles and looking to avoid the throngs of tourists riding double-decker buses past celebrity homes, here’s your guide for hanging out like a local. Get your quick selfies along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then head to these spots:
See a Show, Commune with Dinosaurs
L.A. LIVE is Downtown LA’s sports and entertainment district that offers a one-stop destination for dining, nightlife, sports and music flanked by the STAPLES Center and Microsoft Theater. From professional sporting events to today’s hottest music concerts to bowling (yes, bowling), there’s no shortage of activities.
The Natural History Museum is a short walk from downtown with exhibits and artifacts from the past 4.5 billion years. The museum’s nature gardens offer a welcome respite from the bustle of the city. A bit further west, visit the museum’s La Brea Tar Pits, an active excavation site where you’ll find one of the largest collections of fossils in the world.
Sample a World of Cuisine
LA offers a true melting pot of cultures, and the city’s food scene is the best way to experience the diverse ethnic cuisines of the population. LA’s Original Farmer’s Market, adjacent to The Grove, is where farmers came together in the 1920s to sell their produce and today, and this spot still celebrates that community tradition with dozens of individual vendors serving authentic foods. You’ll want to get in line early for the local favorite Brazilian barbecue at Pampas Grill and be sure to save room for LA’s celebrated Mexican cuisine at Loteria.
View, Build a Collection
Skip the drive to the Getty and spend the day at The Broad, LA’s newest contemporary art museum built in 2015, and admire the more than 2,000 works of art amassed by philanthropist Eli Broad. Entry to the museum is free, but it’s best to reserve timed tickets in advance to avoid having to wait up to two hours in the general admission line.
Be sure to stop into The Last Bookstore and browse its more than 250,000 new and used books including rare editions and vintage vinyl records.
Shop Local Designers
The Grove is the place to see and be seen for shopping in Downtown LA. Although anchored by upscale department stores Nordstrom and Barney’s New York, the mall’s fast fashion spots like Topshop Topman or smaller boutiques like Elizabeth and James are the more likely spots for celebrity sightings.
Cheers to the Cocktail Scene
From craft cocktail bars to live music to speakeasies, Downtown LA really comes alive at night. The late night hotspot is The Varnish, a speakeasy hidden deep inside of the unassuming Cole’s sandwich shop. The decor will transport you back to the Prohibition era with dark lighting and soft jazz in the background, while the award-winning craft cocktails provide a modern twist on 1920’s classics.
Blue Whale, located in LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, draws crowds of all ages as a self-proclaimed “Live Jazz + Art Space.” Opened by a jazz vocalist, it’s one of Downtown LA’s best venues for live music. It’s also one of the most eclectic design spaces you’ll find with its asymmetrical ceiling painted with mystical poetry, moody lighting, blue upholstered cube seating and an in-house art gallery.