What to do for a day in LA?
May 8, 2011 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Tell me how to have a heavenly day in the city of angels

I'll be in LA on Thurs and Fri this week. On Fri I have absolutely no plans except to take the red eye out of LAX. What should I do?

Disclaimer: I've never driven in a city as big as LA and I'm freaked about finding my way around, aggressive drivers, and endless traffic. On Thursday night I'm staying in Eagle Rock so that's where I'll wake up on Friday morning. I'd rather do as little driving during the day as possible.

Things I like: poetry, art, beach, sun, window shopping and people watching, hipster-ish coffee shops and bookstores, glamor, movies, theater, all kinds of good, cheep, interesting food that I can't get in smaller cities. I like other things too but that's the list that comes to mind.

posted by tacoma1 to Travel & Transportation around Lawrence, MA (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
In-N-Out burger!
posted by TheBones at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2011

LaBrea tar pits.
posted by straw at 5:37 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Check out Santa Monica near the beach, including the Promenade, then walk to Venice Beach. Or go in the opposite direction. This should cover poetry, art, beach, sun, window shopping and people watching and kill 3 hours minimum.
posted by doowod at 5:57 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Old Town Pasadena for shopping, browsing, lunching. And close to Eagle Rock.

Or, yeah, what doowad said. That would be a lovely day,
posted by SLC Mom at 6:10 PM on May 8, 2011

Oh, plus, once you get to Santa Monica, you can take Lincoln Boulevard down to LAX and not have to do anymore freeway driving.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:11 PM on May 8, 2011

I wouldn't worry too much about driving--it's a very car-oriented city for the most part, unlike a place like Boston or San Francisco. I find San Francisco to be ten times as difficult as Los Angeles. There are just a LOT of cars and they're all going the same place you are. Expect jams on the freeways, and non-freeway routes to be pretty slow.
posted by tybstar at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2011

At Venice Beach, you could try Intelligentsia for a hipster cafe.
posted by mnemonic at 6:38 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: there is an Intelligentsia in old town pasadena, and it serves beer, wine and a lovely selection of small plates. linky. plus, super close to eagle rock!
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 6:45 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Start out by having breakfast at Auntie Em's Kitchen in Eagle Rock. I like the Black Forest ham & eggs on pretzel bread. The place is lousy with hipsters and delicious cupcakes.

(Also, if the La Brea tar pits sound even mildly appealing to you, I highly recommend them. The tar — literally, terrifyingly — oozes out of the grass in the adjacent park. I was bowled over by the fact that the bones were not millions-of-years-old dinosaur bones; fanciful animals like the American lion and the dire wolf lived in LA, like, 10,000 years ago. Also, it's right next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.)
posted by purpleclover at 7:20 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Renting a bike on the beach and going south from Santa Monica is a really nice day. Tons of places to stop and eat, drink and shop.
posted by whoaali at 7:21 PM on May 8, 2011

Sometimes its just quicker to take the 10.

Would need to take the 405 to LAX. Which I avoid for religious reasons. But I suggest Lincoln because surface streets tend to be less intimidating for the drivers from out of town.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:14 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: From your list I can help cover: poetry, art, sun, window shopping and people watching, hipster-ish coffee shops and bookstores, all kinds of good, cheep, interesting food that I can't get in smaller cities

Thursday night have your friends take you to a taco truck in Highland Park. Or maybe that yuppie taco place Cacao in Eagle Rock. And The Verdugo for a beer.

Friday morning eat at Auntie Ems on Eagle Rock Blvd.

Then you can head to Echo Park and spend some time with hipsters and their hipstery stores. There is a record store called Origami Vinyl. There is an ok bookstore called Stories. There is the Echo Park Time Travel Mart (storefront for 826LA). There are clothing stores that I find a bit $, but if you dig fashion, check out EPIC (echo park independent coop or something like that).

Then continue down Sunset for some yuppie coffee at Intelligentsia in Sunset Junction. There are slightly fancier hipster clothing and accessory stores in that area. Another record store (Vacation Vinyl). A comic book store (Secret Headquarters). And a cheese store with tasty panini (Cheese Store of Silver Lake). There's also a leather daddy store. Tacos Delta is a solid taco stand.

Continue west on Sunset a 1/2 mile to where Hollywood Blvd begins, continue on Hollywood then turn right onto Vermont and look for parking. Now you're in Los Feliz. There is an awesome bookstore called Skylight. There are assorted hipster/vintage clothing stores. Many people to watch.

At this point if you are hungry again, you could continue on Hollywood a bit further and eat at one of the many Thai restaurants.

I leave the rest of the day up to you.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:05 PM on May 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Just dropping in to say that if you follow mandyman's plan, you will have a seriously awesome time and get, perhaps, a more interesting side of LA than you would walking the beach. I know the beach sounds nice, but in my experience, it's a boring drag full of the worst SoCal stereotypes. By contrast, late-night taco trucks, Los Feliz, and great thai have been hallmarks of my year in LA.
posted by fake at 4:27 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! So helpful. And if anyone has more ideas, piggyback ideas/clarifications/adjustments, send them on! One follow-up question: where should I park? On the street? In a lot? I'm thinking I'll either do Mandyman's Echo park plan or else Santa Monica beach...so, parking?

posted by tacoma1 at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2011

While in Eagle Rock, go to nearby Pasadena and take a tour of the Gamble House. While you're in that neck of the woods, you can go just a couple of streets over and see Frank Lloyd Wright's Millard House (La Miniatura) - that one's not open to the public, but you can get quite close to it from the street and it's worth seeing.

While in Eagle Rock you can also check out Galco's, which has hundreds of varieties of obscure/hard to find soda pop.
posted by usonian at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2011

usonian's post reminded me I should mention Barnsdall Park and the Hollyhock house. It's near the Hollywood/Vermont intersection. Great views of the city and a Frank Lloyd Wright house to check out. Also if you're curious, Scientology headquarters are nearby.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:34 AM on May 9, 2011

...and mandyman's followup reminds me of La Luz de Jesus gallery, which is also right near Hollywood & Vermont. (Apart from the gallery, which always has something interesting showing, the gift shop/bookstore is worth a stop by itself.)

And it also reminds me of the Ennis House, Frank Lloyd Wright's most epic concrete block house in the Los Feliz hills just a little ways north. Unfortunately no longer open to the public, but still worth seeing.
posted by usonian at 12:02 PM on May 9, 2011

Best answer: I lived in Santa Monica/Venice for 15 years, and now live in in Downtown L.A., so I spend a lot of time in Silverlake/Echo Park/Los Feliz.

I'm going to chime in and agree with mandyman's plan. You will most likely be able to find street parking meters in that area. On Vermont in Los Feliz there's a public lot behind the movie theater if you need it.

Since you're leaving on the redeye, you might want to get on the freeway (Go South on Vermont Blvd. to the 10 Fwy West which will take you to Santa Monica) and make your way west to Abbot Kinney in Venice afterwards. Definitely more hisptery and less of the SoCal tourist beach city vibe than Santa Monica. Parking will generally be on the street there, though there are a few public lots behind the stores on the east side of the street.

Also, if you want some waterfront exposure, a bit further south in Marina del Rey, there's a small park with a jetty that sticks out into the bay that's a lovely walk, especially at the end of the day. If you're on Abbot Kinney, take it south to Washington (where it ends), turn right (west) and go to the light at Admiralty Way, turn left and take Admiralty all the way to the end and you'll see the water and the little park. There will be meters and you can walk out on the jetty. Many walkers (with and without dogs) and bicyclists will be there with you. You will be about 15-20 minutes from the Airport on Lincoln Blvd (not taking into account rush hour traffic slowdowns).

Since you'll be there on Friday the driving across town will be slow after about 3 or 3:30 PM, getting much worse as rush hour advances; it won't got better until 7:30ish or later, since it's Friday.
posted by ljshapiro at 12:12 PM on May 9, 2011

If you decide to get Thai food for lunch, I'd recommend Palms Thai on Hollywood Blvd at Bronson (they have parking in the back). If you see an Elvis statue when you walk in, you're in the right place!

If you're hard-core about Thai food, though, hit up Jitlada, on Sunset at Harvard.

Oh, and I second ljshapiro's advice about heading west before (the real) rush hour starts; otherwise, you won't want to hit the freeway until after 7pm.
posted by estherbester at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2011

If you're renting a car, get a (or bring your own) GPS. It unlosts you real quick, and since time is important......(if you get one with traffic, that routes you around stuff effectvely, even better).
posted by lalochezia at 7:20 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: Just FYI, I ended up first meeting up with someone I know downtown and having sushi and a pastry and coffee. Then I drove to the beach, saw the Venice Canals (which is hands down where I'd live if I had millions), got a coffee at Intelligentsia and window shopped in Venice, and walked by the beach in Santa Monica. All in all, an awesome day. Thanks for the tips!
posted by tacoma1 at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2011

« Older What do I need to know about buying a new car?...   |   What's the best way to data mine Twitter? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.