LA travel tips!
December 5, 2012 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to LA in a week. What are some things I should see or do? "Off the beaten path" tips encouraged!

Some details:
- I am traveling with my partner.
- We will be there just short of a week.
- We are staying at an Air BnB around Echo Park.
- We are trying to live cheaply, but are totally down with splurging on a few meals/events if they are worth it.
- We are museum people, especially weird/rare art exhibits.
- We don't eat meat.
- Yes, we are renting a car.
- I like hiking, cycling. My partner however dislikes being outside for longer than two hours.
posted by deathpanels to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You say you like museums, weirdness and off the beaten path, then look no further than the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It is like a weird piece of performance art masquerading as a museum.
posted by mmascolino at 12:04 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Try Veggie Grill, they have really tasty vegan food. Various locations.
posted by Dansaman at 12:04 PM on December 5, 2012

Not off the beaten path at all and I'm sure you're already going, but I love the Getty Museum. Not necessarily the art, but the museum itself. I think it's definitely worth a visit. I also like Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.
posted by slide at 12:08 PM on December 5, 2012

There's a zillion LA visitor threads with your general requirements, so sift through the archives (and there's a reason the Museum of Jurassic Technology comes up so often - it's amazing). One thing I don't remember having seen recommended is The Museum of Death. I've not been, but recently read a really fascinating article about it, and will be visiting when I'm out there at the end of the month.
posted by amelioration at 12:15 PM on December 5, 2012

Make a trip to the Getty. You may need a reservation so check ahead.

Drive down Sunset to Malibu. Drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway, play music loud and look for whales.

Go to the corner of Beverly and LaCienega. Hang out, at either the mall or the Beverly Connection. People watch, look for celebrities.

Walk up and down Melrose. Poke into the cool shops.

Go to Du-Par's for pie. (Farmer's Market location) Norm's for hash browns.

Santa Monica Pier. (when you're going to Mailbu).

Try out for a game show. I've won Ben Stein's Money, I met Dick Clark on The Challengers (where I won $1700 and a vacuum cleaner!)

LA isn't really a place, it's a destination. No matter where you go, something interesting will happen to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:21 PM on December 5, 2012

I recommend visiting one of the unique amazements of Los Angeles: Simon Rodia's Watts Towers
posted by lathrop at 12:29 PM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

A note about the Getty: you will not need a reservation for the Getty Museum, but you will need a reservation for the Getty Villa in Malibu. If you only have time for one, I'd pick the Getty Museum, since there's more to see and it has a wider range of art. The Getty Villa is focused on ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art.
posted by yasaman at 12:35 PM on December 5, 2012

Take a tour of historic downtown LA. I'm a native Angeleno and was blown away by the experience. Several tours are run by the LA Conservancy and it is a must. I recommend the Historic Downtown tour which runs every Saturday.
posted by chloe.gelsomino at 12:45 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you go to Watt's Towers, take the tour so you can go inside and around the towers. Our tour guide was really great and it was neat to be able to look UP the towers and see the details.
posted by vespabelle at 12:54 PM on December 5, 2012

The La Brea Tar Pits are great both for their scientific significance and because they're right in the middle of the city! It's not an especially big place (either the outside 'gardens' or the building) but it's pretty awesome. My favourite was the wall of Dire Wolf skulls. And trying to figure out the use of the crazy saber teeth of the Saber-toothed Cat.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2012

If you visit the Tar Pits, it is an easy 1-2 punch to visit the LA Country Museum of Art (LACMA). It is literally across the street. The Getty is free (parking however isn't) and the building is gorgeous whereas LACMA costs money and is kinda ugly outside...but with that said, I enjoyed LACMA's collection a lot more than the Getty's.
posted by mmascolino at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2012

Off the beaten path? Like to hike? You should check out the secret staircases of LA. When I lived in Silver Lake (very close to Echo Park), we had quite a few of these staircases.
posted by cazoo at 1:30 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agree with all of these...also if you visit LACMA you can take in the Kubrick exhibit! :)
posted by sprezzy at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2012

My favorite museum in LA is the Norton Simon in Pasadena. If you're planning to be in Pasadena you may also want to try to get to the Huntington Library. They do have a museum on site, but most people go for the gardens.

The Griffith Park observatory is kind of cool. That will put you very close to the Hollywood sign -- in fact the trail head to hike to the sign starts near the observatory.

Accomlice Hollywood wasn't cheap, but it was fun, and a nice way to explore the Hollywood/Walk of Fame area.

If you can convince your partner to do a little hiking in the Malibu area, the Inn of the Seventh Ray had some vegetarian options the one time I went there. Food was just OK and maybe overpriced if you're on a budget, but the ambiance is pretty neat. Getty is semi-near by, so if you are going to go to the Getty, you may want to schedule this for the same day/night.

Union Station is cool in a retro-LA kind of way. Lots of movies are shot there. It's also very close to Olvera Street and China Town. Both are kitschy, but fun on their own terms. There is probably a subway connecting Echo Park to Union Station, so you might not have to worry about driving into downtown and parking and whatnot.
posted by willnot at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2012

Lesser-known museums:

Fowler Museum at UCLA. They have a knack for mounting condensed, intense exhibits. e.g. a spooky-cool exhibit on Haiti; a darkly whimsical display of '90s Cambodian shop signs. It's a compact, user-friendly museum, not at all overwhelming like some of the big dogs in town. Free admission; parking on campus is hideous.

Nearby at UCLA is the lovely Murphy Sculpture Garden. NUDES! Free.

Hikes of interest, that won't have your partner out of doors more than two hours:

Solstice Canyon. Easy access and parking off PCH, up Malibu way. Hike past some abandoned aerospace structures, up to the remains of a historic home, with a burbling brook.

M*A*S*H set, Malibu Creek State Park. Really nice hike this time of year. The drive up Malibu Canyon is very pretty. You can park on Mulholland to skip the parking fee.

While you're up there, you could do a sidetrip to Paramount Ranch to sop up some Wild West movie set atmosphere. Great place for a picnic. Free parking, and superb bathrooms.

For urban hiking, you could wander around in the downtown Arts District. Lots of art in the wild (murals, sculptures). While in the area, you might want to nip into The Pie Hole to stuff your gob. Mac 'n' cheese pie, oh HELL YES.
posted by nacho fries at 6:26 PM on December 5, 2012

Hollywood Forever cemetery! See the amazing resting places of stars like Johnny Ramone.

Try Happy Family 2 for vegan Chinese all you can eat goodness.
posted by dottiechang at 8:12 PM on December 5, 2012

Things to do in/near Echo Park:
Go for a walk on Elysian Park trails (the trails are mostly in loops that would take an hour max).

Vegetarian/vegan Echo Park restaurants:
Sage Bistro
Elf Cafe (pricey, but last time I went the portions were huge and you can bring your own wine)
Xoia is vegetarian friendly (Vietnamese/Mexian noodles and banh mi)

The Echo and The Sattelite usually have free shows on Mondays. Places like Pehrspace, Control Room, Echo Country Outpost, Betalevel, Home Room, Human Resources, Handbag Gallery and the wulf will have varying kinds of music/performance that is either free or, like, $5. But do your internet research first if you're not up for random noise or whatever. Machine Project has free stuff that can be fun and is conveniently located in Echo Park.

MOCA is free on Thursdays from 5-8pm. I have no idea what exhibits they have. There are two locations, one on Grand and the other in Little Tokyo.

Totally free: Go to downtown to city hall on a weekday during business hours and ask to go to the obersvation deck. It's at the top of city hall and has great views on a clear day.
Check out the Bradbury Building (aka Blade Runner building) (free to walk in and look around the first floor).
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:12 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Veggie Grill is OK, but kinda meh. Hit Doomie's instead. As for splurges: Real Food Daily is worth it, but it's more of a healthy junk food thing and doesn't have booze. Do Shojin instead. It's spendy but absolutely phenomenal. Also worthwhile (and close) Bulan Thai is moderately priced and pretty tasty.
posted by klangklangston at 4:24 PM on December 6, 2012

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