Tips for a Winter Trip to LA
December 6, 2012 9:01 AM   Subscribe

We're spending the 20th-27th in LA, where I haven't been for almost a decade. Please give us your recommendations for wondrous and strange and delicious things to do, see, and eat!

Specs: we are former New Yorkers who would like to do some big city stuff (seeing museums, going to galleries, eating out) with an LA twist, like having fantastic ethnic food in a strip mall and seeing art in some guy's garage in Venice. But we'd also love to go hiking in Topanga or Malibu, so would also appreciate trail recommendations, for example. Plus any good shows and venues, like stand up and music and performance and movies. A lot of the special things I used to know about are gone (the Amok Bookstore, the old Barbarella Bar, Machine Project) and we're eager to learn about new things and places. I've seen the other questions on What to Do In LA but thought there might be some particular new twists to be uncovered.

We are staying in Silverlake so would especially appreciate stuff to do and eat in the 'hood, though since it's LA we are naturally open to driving anywhere!
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to go to Topanga or Malibu, I'd suggest going a little further up the PCH and checking out Point Mugu State Park. It's still in Malibu, but very close to the Ventura County Line. I am personally a big fan of hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains and Verdugo Mountains, and the Echo Mountain Sam Merrill trail is an awesome, short hike that leaves you with a lot of options to explore further up the mountain. The Angeles National Forest is also open after the station fire, and in addition to some great trails, it's also a really scenic drive. But then, so's the PCH.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2012

Museum of Jurassic Technology
posted by primethyme at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2012

These are mostly food-related recs:

If you haven't been to San Gabriel Valley for Chinese food, I highly recommend it (my favorite is Chung King, or Elite for Dim Sum). I also highly recommend Koreatown. And since you're coming from New York, you should get tacos, preferably at Guisados.
Jonathan Gold's 99 from 2011
Jonathan Gold's Koreatown guide

Oh, and go track down the Kogi truck, which started the food truck craze. If you like that, you can check out Roy Choi's other restaurants: Chego, A Frame, and Sunny Spot.

The Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sundays is big and fun and will show off California produce nicely.

Hiking is great everywhere but the Runyon Canyon hike is an urban centerpiece, great for people watching.

Downtown has gotten more fun since you left. Eat at Baco Mercat or Mo-Chica or The Gorbals or Bottega Louie, then go out to bars like the Edison, Broadway Bar, 7 Grand, and The Varnish.

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is relatively recent and worth a visit.
posted by malhouse at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2012

See answers to this question yesterday.
posted by Dansaman at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm really getting sick of the Museum of Jurassic Technology constantly being mentioned as one of the top things to do in Los Angeles.

Ugh, me too.

If you haven't been to the Getty Villa, it is much more impressive than the Getty Museum. You need to make a reservation and pay for parking, but otherwise it's free.

I am never free when it's open, but my mother said that the Weisman Art Foundation is insanely, insanely amazing. You need to book your tour in advance, but I think it's free.

Another underrated museum: The Norton Simon. I love Pasadena, I love the Norton Simon, and Pasadena is really easy to get to from Silver Lake. Maybe you can make a day of it in Pasadena - hiking Chantry Flats or up to Echo Mountain, a few hours at the Norton Simon Museum, and then go to a Jonathan Gold recommended Chinese restaurant in Alhambra.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:40 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Machine Project is still around, unless this is a different Machine Project than the one you remember.
posted by kitty teeth at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2012

Will Rogers State Park has hiking trails and, if you go at the right time, tours of Will Rogers' house. You can even go for a trail ride there.

The Automobile Driving Museum has classic cars that you can go for a ride in on Sundays.
posted by mogget at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2012

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is not "one of the top things to do in Los Angeles," but the OP specifically asked for "strange," and that fits the bill far more than either of the Getty locations. I'm sorry to have offended.
posted by primethyme at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2012

It's interesting in a quirky way but really hasn't much to do with LA or why people take a vacation in Southern California. However, it is wondrous and strange.

If you do visit the Hollywood Farmers Market (real link) be advised that it's a permanent institution and open every day. There's a donut place inside called Bob's which the makes the best anywhere. Take something to read, and hang out for a while -- plenty of seating upstairs, if it's crowded.

Oh, and skip the Universal Studios tour, no matter what you've heard.
posted by Rash at 11:23 AM on December 6, 2012

Barbarella's re-opened on Heliotrope, and the Machine Project is still around.

The Smell (dunno why the google results are hacked) is always worth a $5 sojourn.

The Echo is still around, and Part Time Punks is pretty fun (also, the calendar will fill in more as you get closer).

Wacko's La Luz de Jesus gallery can be fun (or it can be Juxtapoz backwash, but whatevs, it's free). You're missing most of the big openings, but you should still be able to cruise the downtown arts district during the day and find something interesting.
posted by klangklangston at 4:19 PM on December 6, 2012

Oh, and for standup: Thursdays at the Palace. I haven't made it down there yet (maybe I will tonight!) but it's known for being a place where people like Patton Oswald workshop new material. And the Center For Inquiry (a buncha humanists who do good work) have a theater there that regularly does good stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 4:29 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Right now LACMA has a Kubrick exhibit which is pretty cool. Tickets are $20. If you go around lunch time, there are often a bunch of food trucks across the street on Wilshire Blvd.
posted by sharkfu at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2012

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