Forget crowded Hollywood and the stalkerish movie star home tours and get a sense of the real city of angels instead. From vintage store shopping to boardwalk people-watching here is my list of Top 10 cool things to do in Los Angeles – whatever your taste…
Go for a retro cocktail at the Tonga Hut
A fun, intimate a laid back bar that has the accolade of being the oldest Tika bar in the city, having operated since 1958. Located in Victory Blvd, North Hollywood the bar is authentically retro decor hasn’t changed much from its original heyday, think lashings of bamboo, cedar walls, fountains, and Tikis and atmospheric dim lighting. Visit for fruity drinks, lava-rock fountains and eclectic funky tunes joyfully pouring out of the jukebox. Want to get your name on the Tonga Hut wall of fame? Well, you’ll just need to drink 78 cocktails from the bar (over a period of time of course). Easy right?
People watch at Venice Beach
Be entertained by literally just walking along the promenade. Famous Venice Beach is home to slightly crazy street performers, extreme bodybuilders, fortune tellers and extraterrestrial believers (see above) and is a prime spot for people-watching. Walk far enough and you’ll hear cool music pumping out of packed bars and outrageously dressed people dancing in the street. See dogs dressed as men and men dressed as dogs, people giving out hugs and free spirits just hanging out.
Take a stroll on Third Street Promenade
This is everyone’s favourite street in downtown Santa Monica where you’ll find an excellent range of shops, restaurants and cafes in compact traffic-free area. The walkway runs for 30 city blocks and close by are the beach, Palisades Park and the Santa Monica Pier. Also a great place to kick back and watch a couple of street performers.
Shop Vintage on Melrose Ave
Vintage lovers would definitely want to pay Melrose Avenue a visit. Hang out with the cool kids and start your search for everything from trendy sneakers to original 1950s fashion. Comic stores, tattoo parlors, retro shops and up-scale boutiques sit side-by-side in ten blocks of hipster shopping heaven.
5. Drink at the Dresden Rooms
Famous for its appearance in the 1996 cult classic ‘Swingers’ (which launched the careers of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn) this bar is also now included on the”World’s Best Bars” list. The exterior may look pretty dark but inside you’ll find white retro cool leather booths, corkboard walls and cocktails whipped to perfection. Entertainment is provided by veteran jazz artists Marty and Elayne.
6. Stay at Farmer’s Daughter Hotel
For a unique stay in the city try the Farmer’s Daughter. This West Hollywood hotel oozes cool Americana Kitsch and over-the-top hoedown décor. The hotel prides itself on homely hospitality and friendly service making you feel like you are staying on someone’s cozy ranch (you even get free cookies and lemonade at the front desk). The hotel rooms have rocking chairs, hardwood floors and luxurious bedding. Make sure you also dine at the on-site TART Restaurant which has a menu packed full of Californian comfort food.
Go organic at Mixt Greens
When in Los Angeles you should eat like the locals. The green and organic movement in the city is huge and the place to try first is one of the greenest eateries in California. Mixt Greens is an Eco-gourmet restaurant emphasizing organic, sustainable, seasonal, environmentally responsible and local food. Even the restaurant venue is constructed using renewable and recycled materials and you can rest easy knowing that everything on your plate puts the planet’s wellbeing first.
Increase your knowledge at Griffith Observatory
Call it geek-cool or an attraction for the curious of mind, the Griffith Observatory and its grounds are open to the public for free with three live programs presented in rotation every hour. You’ll find regular activities and events here like the “Public Star Party” and the “Public Viewing of the Transit of Venus.” Also, make use of the free telescopes available for the public to use on clear nights and be prepared to have your mind blown in the Los Angeles Planetarium also located here.
9. Check out the Farmer’s Market
This is located in the Third Street but deserves a mention of its own. Come here for chic clothes and fresh produce taken directly from local farms. The very trendy Farmer’s Market also offer other attractions such as a ‘meet and greet’ with the grocer of the week, lively cooking demonstrations and sit-down eateries. Find it on the corner 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue all week long (although opening times vary).
10. Visit Hollyhock House
Fans of interesting architecture might want to pay Hollyhock House a visit. Now the centerpiece of the Barnsdall Art Park (in East Hollywood), the home was originally designed by acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1919-1921 for an oil heiress. The house was included in a list of all time “top ten” Los Angeles houses in a Los Angeles Times and is now open to the public. Features include a distinctive ‘introverted’ exterior and a complex system of split levels, steps and roof terraces surrounding the courtyard.
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