Hivemind Help for HD's L.A. trip!
October 3, 2011 8:20 PM   Subscribe

What're your specific recommendations for a weekend trip to Los Angeles?

Some friends of mine have already made suggestions, but I'd like to hear your recommendations of what to do/where to stay with the following goals in mind:

1. Hotel must be part of Starwood properties (Yes, this is, in part, a points run-- flight miles vis-a-vis SPG usage)
This includes:
- The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites
- Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
- W Hollywood
- SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
- Sheraton Universal Hotel
- Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles Westside
- W Los Angeles - Westwood

2. I'd like to plan a day driving up Rt 1/PCH/PCH-1
3. I'd like to eat a lot. Noodles, especially. And find a Kogi truck. Those, for snacks and dinner 1. Dinner 2 can be anything worthwhile, interesting and tasty. No recommendations on breakfast or lunch, please. I will not be awake
4. I'd like to find a nice place where I can sit down and look at the city from a hill. You know, like in the movies. Or something.

I'll be arriving on a Saturday and departing on the following Tuesday, giving me essentially Sunday and Monday. Questions include:
- Which hotel should I stay at that'll minimize having to drive?
- Am I going to have to drive a lot to the places you'd recommend visiting? Is there a cluster of stuff that's walkable?
- Are there any stops/destinations/parks/etc. off of Rt 1/PCH I should absolutely not miss?
- On which day should I take my driving trip?

My goal is to construct a reasonably mellow and open itinerary: I dislike having to feel like I have to be at x, y or z at time 1, 2 or 3. Basically trying to consolidate my friends' recommendations with yours and come up with a trip that will hopefully allow for some nice decompression. Many thanks!
posted by herrdoktor to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, and if there are any MeFites who'd like to meet up for chasing down food or camping out bars, LET'S DO IT WHY NOT.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:21 PM on October 3, 2011


#4 - griffith park observatory or the getty. the former will be cheaper and easier to get to.
posted by fillsthepews at 8:25 PM on October 3, 2011


What do you want out of your hotel experience? Somewhere practical or exotic?
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:30 PM on October 3, 2011


You're going to have to drive no matter where you stay. The hotels downtown are close to the Metro, but it still won't be super convenient. And last time I checked, the Bonaventure charged something outrageous like $40/night for parking, so make sure you factor that into your reservation.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:32 PM on October 3, 2011


The Getty Museum is my favorite thing in LA.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:50 PM on October 3, 2011


#1 - I'd recommend the W Los Angeles - Westwood. I've had drinks there. It's clean and nice and slightly trendy without being annoyingly so. Most importantly, it's in Westwood, which has a lot of walkable options as it's all geared towards UCLA students. It's also close to the PCH for your driving trip or close to the Getty, which has a fantastic view of the city. And it's several blocks from a place called Noodle Planet. NOODLE PLANET.

Overview of the other hotels:

- The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites
- Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel


Both Downtown. Streets are confusing and hectic. Not a place you want to get lost.

- W Hollywood

Trendy and annoying.

- SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills

Never been there. Website makes it look nice. More cross-town driving to PCH.

- Sheraton Universal Hotel

Good for going to Universal Studios; not close to PCH.

- Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles Westside

I like Culver City, but this hotel doesn't seem to be in a convenient location.

#3 - Without your specific dates it's hard to tell you the Kogi schedule. Don't forget they also serve Kogi at the Alibi Room (link) (map). Get there right when it opens, as it gets crazy.

Definitely do your driving trip on Sunday. You don't want to deal with rush hour on Monday.
posted by sharkfu at 9:00 PM on October 3, 2011


Just to tack onto what sharkfu said, the W Westwood probably puts you closer to most of the stuff you want to see.

Noodle Planet is now called Noodle World. It's not bad, but I'm not sure I'd travel to LA just to eat there. If you want ramen, Santouka is great though, and not too far a drive.

It is best to get Kogi at the Alibi Room, since you can down beers with it and you don't have to chase a truck.

You'll want to go to Getty Center for your night time view BUT when you drive up PCH you want to see Getty Villa, which is also incredible in completely different ways than the center.
posted by hanqduong at 9:16 PM on October 3, 2011


Sawtelle between Santa Monica and Olympic is "Little Osaka".
posted by brujita at 9:41 PM on October 3, 2011


hanqduong: "Noodle Planet is now called Noodle World. It's not bad, but I'm not sure I'd travel to LA just to eat there."

Yes, I completely agree. I mistakenly gave the impression that it was a prime recommendation. I just meant it as a walking distance option for that hotel.
posted by sharkfu at 9:46 PM on October 3, 2011


2. I'd like to plan a day driving up Rt 1/PCH/PCH-1

I just drove up to Lime Kiln State Park recently. Took about 7 hours up and about 6 hours back (on a Friday and a Sunday respectively). North of San Luis Obispo is where the PCH starts getting twisty and beautiful. But that's drivedrivedrive, no stop and look around.

Slightly more reasonable is tacos for lunch in Santa Barbara, wine tasting at 3 in Solvang, and fish'n'chips at Malibu Seafood in time for sunset.

3. I'd like to eat a lot. Noodles, especially. And find a Kogi truck. Those, for snacks and dinner 1. Dinner 2 can be anything worthwhile, interesting and tasty. No recommendations on breakfast or lunch, please. I will not be awake

I don't really have an answer for #1 for you, but I'd say stay somewhere downtown so that Alhambra will be that much closer. Because if you like Pho you'll want to head over to Pho Nguyen Hoang. Also pretty good and big and guaranteed hoppin' on the weekend is the Noodle World nearby. Maybe head down to Lincoln juuust South of Garvey for $20 hour-long Chinese Foot Massages afterwards.

4. I'd like to find a nice place where I can sit down and look at the city from a hill. You know, like in the movies. Or something.

Griffith Observatory is obligatory and wonderful for sunset, but Barnsdall Park right after that for twilight might be nice. Bring some bread and cheese and wine or some hot cocoa and a blanket.
posted by carsonb at 9:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Los Olivos
posted by hortense at 10:16 PM on October 3, 2011


Other people can give you suggestions about stuff to do, but if you really want to get your Asian food on, then I highly recommend hanging around in the San Gabriel Valley, mostly Alhambra.

For Vietnamese, I'd hit up Golden Deli (good pho, beef stew, and vermicelli bowls, but the egg rolls are absolutely phenomenal) or grab some BBQ pork bahn mi at Bahn Mi My Tho.

If you're feeling more in the mood for Chinese and don't mind hole-in-the-wall joints, check out A & E (awesome noodles and dumplings, and their pig ears and spicy cucumbers are great!) or 101 Noodle Express across the way (those beef rolls....oh man).

There are tons of Hong Kong Chinese cafes open stupidly late all over Alhambra, and you can get pretty decent, occasionally transcendent, noodles at just about any of 'em, but I like Tasty Garden the best (not to be confused with nearby Garden Cafe, and the one in Alhambra, not Monterey Park). Baccali also isn't bad, but I think Savoy is vastly overrated, despite all the love on Yelp, but I'll admit that they do have quite respectable Hainan chicken.

For dessert or snacks, there are probably half a dozen Phoenix Food Boutiques (and one very decent sit-down restaurant) scattered around that area, and they're all pretty good, with a wide range of tasty nibbles. I would especially recommend their little pecan tarts and mango mochi balls. But if you want something a little different for dessert, go get yourself some Snowy over at Pa Pa Walk in San Gabriel. I can't vouch for the food there, but I really dig their crazy shaved ice cream concoction. It looks like slop on a plate, but it's surprisingly awesome: sweet, fluffy, creamy, and refreshing.

I could keep going, but there are literally hundreds of restaurants concentrated around there, and you'd probably go into cardiac arrest before trying them all (not that my family hasn't been valiantly trying!).
posted by Diagonalize at 10:49 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for your responses-- they're perfect and outstanding.
Gonna look stuff up and plot things out. So many great recommendations!
Keep 'em coming, if you've got more!
posted by herrdoktor at 10:51 PM on October 3, 2011


The Getty museum.

The art is incredible.

They took my favorite painting of all time out, but it's still a "Louvre-esque" experience for a fraction of the cost.
posted by Sphinx at 11:14 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on your list, it would probably make sense to stay on the westside. Friends of mine who've stayed at the W in Westwood said they liked it. Plus from Westwood, you can take a very convenient bus to the Getty, which saves on parking, and is perfect for #4. The museum's garden is one of my favorite places in all of LA!

Re: Kogi - if you really want Kogi, the best bet would be to go to the Alibi Room in Venice, as the trucks can be tricky to track down. Also just opened in Venice: Wurstkuche! But also: there are now over 250 gourmet trucks in LA! My recommendations would be the Grilled Cheese truck and the NomNom truck (if you like banh mi). Again though, specific trucks can be difficult to track down.

Noodly stuff: if you aren't prepared to drive into the San Gabriel Valley, you can get decent ramen in Little Tokyo, at Daikokuya or Shinsengumi (which is brand-new). And hey, the original Wurstkuche is also right near Little Tokyo! No noodles there but very good fries and interesting sausages and soda, which is why I've mentioned it twice!
posted by estherbester at 11:27 PM on October 3, 2011


Re trucks in LA, I have had excellent luck with the TruxMap smartphone app on Android (I assume it or something similar is also on iPhones).

Drive to LA, fire up truxmap, pick the nearest excellent-sounding food. I have yet to encounter a dud 'gourmet' LA food truck. Expect to drive unless you happen to be near a scheduled cluster like Santa Monica or Venice Beach.

Recommendations: Shrimp Pimp, Coolhaus, Slap yo mama, tastykakes from South Philly Experience.

Also, it's not a truck, but I love the Apple Pan in West LA. Genuine oldschool burger joint. Great pie too.

posted by zippy at 12:10 AM on October 4, 2011


Looks like Monday will be museum and truck day.
And truck night.

zippy: awesome app suggestion!

As soon as I read up on everything I'll be clicking best answers-- they're all great! Thanks again, folks: SUPER JAZZED.
posted by herrdoktor at 1:05 AM on October 4, 2011


Just so you know, the drive from UCLA to Alhambra and back can be kind of a pain the butt if you're not used to spending lots of time on the freeway. (I grew up in the latter and went to the former.) If you want to make the haul out there for delicious Asian food, do it on the weekend. You do NOT want to be trying to get from the Westside to the SGV on a Monday night.

Other than the Getty, which is a Must See, if you ARE going to go out to Alhambra, the Huntington Library in San Marino is pretty fab, ditto the Santa Anita Race Track, if you're into horse races (it's also actually a beautiful track). Races begin again on Thursday, I think -- just in case you decide to do the San Gabriel Valley while you're out there noodling it up.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:19 AM on October 4, 2011


For #4 do this specific hike: Get to Fern Dell in Griffith Park, then follow this route up to the Griffith Observatory. When you're ready, take the same path back down the hill and stop off at the Trails Cafe for lunch or a snack.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:15 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went to Watts Towers, despite my family's OMG, Watts, we'll never see you again. Very cool. They weren't open, so we couldn't get inside the structures, but still really great.
posted by theora55 at 7:24 AM on October 4, 2011


You should double check museum hours, I think the Getty Villa is open Monday but the museum itself is closed.
posted by estherbester at 9:07 AM on October 4, 2011


For your Monday museum day -- be aware that most museums are closed on Mondays.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:39 PM on October 4, 2011


I came in to say the W Westwood is nice, so just add me to the chorus. Really, you kids are spot on. I loved the Getty. And Griffiths. Also, if you are into brunch, I always liked Taste on Melrose.

I've also always really liked Will Rogers State Beach. Last time I was there, I swam with dolphins!
posted by chatongriffes at 3:57 PM on October 4, 2011


The Getty is a terrific suggestion. I highly recommend that for your nighttime OR daytime view--go on Saturday when the museum stays open until 9. Bonus, parking is free after five (or $15 during the day). Admission is always free though, and the bus is a great suggestion though I've never taken it there myself. And do stop into the Getty Villa during the day on your drive up the coast! It's right off PCH.

Griffith is also perfect for nighttime views (above and below), so I would compromise and just do this the next night. Closes at ten on weekends. Also FREE. Parking sucks there but what's new. Be sure to check out the camera obscura and the huge telescopes inside. There's usually a docent who will guide your view.

You're arriving just in time for Pacific Standard Time! Over 60 museums and institutions collaborating (with a grant from the Getty) to create a unified, city-wide art...collective? You had to be there. Basically, all these museums have some kind of exhibit focused on LA. It's really great. They have a easily navigable website that shows you what's open that day.

Kogi truck: fun for tailgating. Kogi at the Alibi Room: fun for alcohol, less awkward loitering. If you're staying on the Westside, do that. Westwood is a very college-oriented walking district that's pretty unique to the area. Ice cream sandwiches at Diddy Riese and lots of shawarma options nearby (plus an In-n-Out).

An aside, if you're flying in to LAX, I would stop by Clutter's Park and linger there for a while. It's the perfect place to watch planes take off.

It has been chilly and a little drizzly lately so keep that in mind for your clothing plans. I also have recommendations for noodles and a couple of events happening that you are welcome to memail me about.

p.s. Good luck finding anything to do on Monday. The city tends to shut down.
posted by therewolf at 4:12 PM on October 4, 2011


Awright doods, consider me super impressed with the quality of responses: I've pretty much looked everything up and have plotted things down to allow for a pretty nice weekend, with room to breathe!

I'm very curious as to how much food I can stuff down my gullet on a truck run.

Thanks for all the excellent replies, and especially the reminder on the Getty's hours: I had planned to go on Monday!

I LOVE YOU ALL.
posted by herrdoktor at 4:16 PM on October 4, 2011


The coastal PCH in the LA area runs from Santa Monica up to Oxnard, about a 45 mile drive or so. It's very nice little drive, but it's not the mind bending PCH that it is farther up north, from Morro Bay up. Nevertheless, it's pretty cool if you haven't seen it. You'll want to stop at Neptune's Net, a hole in the wall burger shack up in Ventura County. Oh, and once you get past Point Mugu Rock and start into Oxnard, turn around and head back.

Yes, the Getty is closed Mondays.
posted by Xoebe at 4:23 PM on October 4, 2011


If you're going to the Getty Villa, make sure you get a free, advance ticket. They are hardcore about it and will not even let you onto the property without it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:09 AM on October 5, 2011


Thanks again for all the recommendations. I've posted an IRL thing here, if anyone's innerested in meeting up!
posted by herrdoktor at 10:30 PM on October 14, 2011


The San Gabriel Valley stuff is great, but since I'm lazy and prefer to walk or ride my bike for food, I'll mention these things.

For noodles:
Map of ramen in Los Angeles

I really like the beef Wat Dong Moon Lek noodles at the appropriately named Wat Dong Moon Lek. Magical fragrant broth yum.

A lot of people like Pa Ord and Sapp.

There is much debate about Pho Cafe wrt authenticity. Once again, since I don't want to make the trek to the Little Saigon or SGV pho places, I like this place. I tried Pho Legend the other night and it was pretty good, but I guess I'm more of a Pho Cafe person.

And while I'm at it, let me suggest taking in some Thai Elvis at Palms Thai. The food is nothing special (not bad by any means). Show up later in the night once Thai Elvis has warmed up and made his way to the hits.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:50 AM on October 15, 2011


I'm assuming your interests in driving up Rt 1/PCH/PCH-1 are limited to the PCH portion of Route 1 (which Wikipedia currently lists as the segment between Interstate 5 (I-5) in Dana Point and US 101 near Oxnard), but if you do head farther north or get a few extra days, northern Highway 1 has some nice locations. If you want the highlights of Highway 1, jump on the 101 until you get to San Luis Obispo, where Highway 1 and 101 split again, and the 1 heads back to the coast. This will take you through the beachy/fishy town of Morro Bay, where you can get salt taffy and tasty fresh fish dishes along the bay, or scoot on north, through Cayucos, which is even more of a tiny coastal community. Their downtown buildings are designed in one three "themes": nautical, western, and Victorian. There are some variations, but it all fits together. But if you keep driving, I don't think you'll really miss much.

Up next: Harmony. There's a winery (or two?), a few artsy shops, and that's about it. If you don't look to your right as you head north, you'll miss it in a moment. Then you're heading into the pines of Cambria, where you'll feel like you're suddenly in northern California. The downtown area is inland from Highway 1, and you won't see much of it from the highway. Again, cutesy building designs, lots of Victorian and related styles. Towards the north end of the community, you'll leave the pines and see the ocean again. The one restaurant of remark in this area is the Sea Chest, which doesn't take credit card, and can fill up pretty early on the weekends, even with lines starting before the restaurant opens. It's a local thing.

Along the coast, you'll pass through San Simeon, which is either hotels or housing. Not a lot to see here, so head on up the road. The next major attraction is Hearst Castle, where you can pay to take guided tours of the eclectic, historic building and grounds. Interesting stuff, beautiful place, and great views. A nice detour, and definitely a local destination.

A couple miles further, and you'll pass the Elephant seal rookery, and you'll probably be in time to see the juvenile haul-out. Just a bit further, and you'll pass the Piedras Blancas Light Station, which you can tour, if you come at the right time.

Keep going, and you'll hit Big Sur. There is a LOT to do and see around here. Lots of hiking, a few restaurants and shops, and a nice little museum at the north end. If you make it all the way to Carmel and would like to camp, but don't want to turn around, you can stay at the rather funky Saddle Mountain RV park and camping grounds. It's carved into the hill above Carmel Valley, so you can get a nice view, and it's pretty inexpensive for a pretty accessible, fairly private campground.

Detours along the way:

From the north end of Santa Barbara, you can veer inland and take State Route 154, a curvy, two-lane road back through the hills and past Lake Cachuma and the quaint community of Los Olivos. It can actually shave 15 minutes off of your trip, if traffic is good. There are some nice long passing lanes, but they aren't frequent enough to ensure you won't get stuck behind a rental RV or large truck. You can stop at Cold Spring Tavern, which serves a wide variety of meats (including buffalo burger and a good bit of venison, though lion hasn't been on the menu since 1998).

But if you take the 154, you'll miss the split-off for Highway 1 from the 101, unless you the 246, which will take you through the faux-Danish town of Solvang (skipping Los Olivos). You will also get to drive through Buellton, which has a big fake windmill and Pea Soup Anderson's. Then you're back on track with Highway 1 in Lompoc.

If you stick on the 101, you can break onto Highway 1 north of Santa Barbara and Goleta, where you'll be driving through a scenic area south of Lompoc. The rural area is nice, but I can't tell you how it differs much from the land around the 101 in that same region. Still, a slower drive than the 101, so you can see more of the scenery. Lompoc has a lot of murals, which is pretty keen. A bit off the route, you can see La Purisima Mission. This used to be the City of Flowers, but flowers have given way to other crops, and to more homes.

North of Vandenberg AFB, you'll skirt Santa Maria, a sprawling city like so many southern Californian towns that have no geographic limitations. Keep on going, and you'll pass through miles of agricultural fields, then the tiny town of Guadalupe, where you can stop at Far West Tavern, if you're fond of meat. Then more fields, a few bends in the road, and you're into another string of communities: the Five Cities along the coast, consisting of Oceano, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, and Shell Beach. There is no discernible split between these communities as you drive, so they're the Five Cities area. At the end of these communities, Highway 1 rejoins the 101.

Either way, if you're in the mood for clam chowder in a bread bowl, you can stop in Pismo at Splash Cafe, or continue into San Luis Obispo for their second location, which also has a bakery.

Going along Highway 1 out of SLO (the common abbreviation for San Luis Obispo), the next detour of note that comes to mind is in Cambria: Nit Wit Ridge (or Nitt Witt, Nitwit, etc). It's a "folk art" house, which you can apparently tour for $10. I've just driven by a few times, and it is indeed eclectic.

With all that, I've only skimmed over the fun stuff to do, see, and eat in this general realm. Say the word, and I'll go on in detail.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:15 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief, that is an amazing answer! Thanks a ton. There is indeed a possibility of extending my trip, and even if it doesn't happen, it serves as an excellent post to refer back to.

Thanks for taking the time to write it up and provide links! If you're ever in the area, or I'm in yours, and we're able to meet up, the first, second, third and fourth rounds are on me.
posted by herrdoktor at 4:02 PM on October 18, 2011


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