How do you choose from so many choices?
November 7, 2011 6:24 AM   Subscribe

After getting excellent advice on San Francisco, I now need help with the LA portion of our California trip! Your recommendations on how best to spend three days in LA would be much appreciated.

My partner and I will be in LA from Nov. 23-26, staying in Santa Monica, with a rental car. We are feeling really overwhelmed about LA - it just seems so big, with so many options! - so we'd love some recommendations.

We are interested in:
-good vegan places to eat (I've found Quarrygirl, which is awesome, but personal recs would be helpful, too!)
-interesting queer things to check out (either bars, or areas, or whatever!)
-museums, sites, neighbourhoods that are worth exploring
-hikes or walks, particularly ones with great views

We're two women in our late 20s, not particularly hispter-ish, in good shape, with pretty broad interests. I know the above is a bit vague, but I just feel like, despite having read guidebooks and stuff, that I don't even know where to start with LA, other than wandering down to the beach near where we're staying, and finding good food!
posted by sabotagerabbit to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"Real Food Daily" in Santa Monica is an amazing vegan restaurant- I love it and I'm not in any way vegan! and West Hollywood in general for nightlife....
posted by misspony at 6:34 AM on November 7, 2011

If you like architecture and happen to be in Hollywood already, you could take a tour of Hollyhock House (Frank Lloyd Wright). That's near the La Luz de Jesus gallery, and also right near the neighborhood of Los Feliz, which is pretty hip (well, I should say... was pretty hip when I left L.A. 10 years ago.)
posted by usonian at 6:34 AM on November 7, 2011

Here's a nice way to spend a few hours: Head over to Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. Specifically, the Los Feliz side, where you can hike from pretty Ferndell up to the Griffith Observatory. At the Observatory (closed Mon & Tues) you can pop in for a planetarium show or just check out the (free) exhibits. (And you can't beat the views.) When you're done, walk back down the way you came and visit the Trails Cafe, where you can sit outside & enjoy the beautiful weather while chowing down on vegan treats.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:35 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

These are great suggestions so far - just what I was looking for! Please keep 'em coming.
posted by sabotagerabbit at 7:17 AM on November 7, 2011

You mentioned museums so on the weird side, I've got to mention the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Hard to explain but perhaps the reviews of this book about it will be a better start then the enigmatic website.

With regards to art museums, now is a great time to be in LA (if you like post WWII California art). The exhibition Pacific Standard time is going on at the Getty and LAMOCA has Under the Big Black Sun. Both have gotten rave reviews.
posted by kaybdc at 7:35 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Grove and Farmers Market are great too! Especially beautiful during the holidays. Also, there is really great hiking just a bit up the PCH.... I also used to really enjoy happy hours along the promenade in SM... And Rodeo Drive as a McCormick and Shmidt (sp?) that does a lovely happy hour- amazing people watching.
posted by misspony at 7:44 AM on November 7, 2011

If you are up for somewhat of an elevation change in your hike, Paseo Miramar is beautiful. You turn onto Paseo Miramar from Sunset and drive up a steep winding road for ~mile to get to the trail head at the end of the road. Park on the street wherever you can find it.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro in Echo Park was tasty the one time I ate there. They also have vegan ice cream. Echo Park has a lot of vegan hipsters. I've always heard good things about Doomies in Hollywood, though I've yet to try it. I love the pancakes at Floré in Sunset Junction.

Across the street and one block over from Floré is where the Black Cat Tavern was located--an important part of gay rights history. There's a relic of more fucked up times on Hyperion between Sunset and Effie: "No Cruising" signs are still posted. The neighborhood council wants to take them down.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:14 AM on November 7, 2011

-Wednesday/Saturday Santa Monica Farmer's Markets
-Friday Venice Farmer's Market
-Take a walk on Abbot Kinney in Venice (Galleries, food, hipster vibe)
-Sunset Blvd. in Silverlake (Same as above)
-Hikes in Beachwood Canyon near Hollywood sign. Fantastic after a rain
posted by goalyeehah at 8:47 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have some vegan friends and so I've eaten in several vegan restos in LA. RFD is very popular among the vegan crowd as is M Cafe de Chaya (7119 Melrose). As a non-vegan the vegan place I've enjoyed the most is Shojin in Little Tokyo (and Little Tokyo is a fun place to wander in--the Japanese American Museum is down there, as is the Geffen Contemporary building of the Museum of Contemporary Art). For quick/affordable vegan fare Veggie Grill now has a lot of LA locations and I've always found it a big hit with vegetarians/vegans (vegans sometimes don't realize that it IS a vegan place because it doesn't trumpet the fact--it is, though). It does a lot of mock-meat burgers/sandwiches etc.

As for things to see and do: well, immersing yourself in some of the Pacific Standard Time shows is definitely worthwhile. PST is a huge regional effort that is being spearheaded by the Getty, but which involves shows at almost all the major and minor museums in the Southern California area. At LACMA there's a show centering on post WWII design, at the Armand Hammer a show on black artists in California, at the Getty a show centered on painting/sculpture from 1940-70, at the Orange County Museum of Art a show on conceptual art, at MoCA a survey show covering from '74 to '81. Down in San Diego the Museum of Contemporary art is surveying the "Light and Space" movement etc. etc. Any of these museums is worth a visit in any case, but the chance to see a series of linked exhibits like this, all exploring related subjects, is pretty rare.

Of course, Californian Art history may not be your bag. If you want Great Masters of European art the single best collection in the region is probably the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (there's nothing in LA that is equivalent to the great East Coast museums like the Metropolitan, the Philadelphia Art Museum or the National Gallery, although if you put the Norton Simon, the Huntington, the Getty and LACMA together you'd come close). For C19th French art in particular (especially the Impressionists) it has no peer in the region. If you do go to Pasadena for the Norton Simon you should also check out the Huntington, which has utterly gorgeous gardens (the cactus/succulent gardens in particular are just stunning--like Dr. Seuss on even more acid than usual) and one of the great collections of C18th art in the world.

If you go to LACMA you'll be near the Farmer's Market which is quite a fun scene (there's a Veggie Grill there, too, so you can eat vegan while checking out the stalls). If you go to MoCA you'll be across the road from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and it's fun to take a wander around that (fabulous!) building. You should check to see what's on at the Music Center while you're in town, come to that. The acoustics of the WDCH are pretty stunning and the LA Phil is a superb orchestra. Here's the Music Center calendar; the Romeo and Juliette at LA Opera is definitely worth seeing if that's still on when you're here. I see that Esa-Pekka Salonen is going to be conducting a pretty exciting looking concert on the Friday of your visit. I'd definitely think about getting tickets for that.

Oh, another thing you could think about doing in Pasadena if you go there is to tour the Gamble House (it's very near the Norton Simon Museum). It's a Craftsman style masterpiece by the Greene brothers: utterly stunning and very Californian.

Have a great visit!
posted by yoink at 9:57 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can vouch for Doomie's. That and a trip to either Millions of Milkshakes or Scoops for a vegan frozen treat could mean you might not fit in the clothes you brought for the rest of your trip. I also second Real Food Daily and Shojin. I didn't enjoy Flore though. Veggie Grill is a great place to get a quick bite, but it's not some place I'd go out of the way to visit. I'll also say that Hugo's has a great mixed menu and lots of vegan options.

I'd generally offer you the ability to go to the Magic Castle however they just suffered a fire on Halloween and it's currently only open to members +1 with no full opening date yet set. If this is something that interests you please get in touch and I'll send you the invitation and it'll be up to you to watch for details and arrange the required reservations.

Finally, for a totally bizarre museum experience you might be interested in the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum which is located within the headquarters of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights on Santa Monica. They even have an interactive version of the Museum should you want to get a taste. It is a part of the Church of Scientology and that may be enough to keep you from going or using your real name when you do - but it was entertaining.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2011

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