Things to do in L.A./Santa Monica?
September 21, 2005 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Things to do in L.A./Santa Monica?

I'll be in Santa Monica, Los Angeles for a few days in October. I've never been to California, so what are some of the must-see or must-do things I should do while there? I'd prefer to be as budget-friendly as possible, and touristy is okay as long as it doesn't involve maps to the stars' homes. And since I'm a comics geek, are there any unique or impressive comics or animation shops worth checking out in the area? I will also be sans-automobile.
posted by Robot Johnny to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a comics store on Santa Monica and 5th or 6th.
posted by forallmankind at 12:46 PM on September 21, 2005

If you're sans-car, then you'll need to be a lot more specific about where in Santa Monica you're going to be. It's a pretty big town.
posted by Mercaptan at 12:50 PM on September 21, 2005

When I visited last year, the museum complex at La Brea was more than worth it. (At the very least, for the entire wall covered in dire wolf skulls.) Tickets seem to run $7-9 per museum. Many of the beaches are public access as well. My partner took a tour of Beverly Hills by city or county bus as well for about $2. We were also sans-auto and found the bus systems in the area to be excellent and cheap ways of getting around.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:00 PM on September 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: you'll need to be a lot more specific about where in Santa Monica you're going to be.

I'll be staying at the Georgian hotel, right on the beach, close to the pier.
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:05 PM on September 21, 2005

Cool, you might want to check out The Big Blue Bus then. I spent about a week in Santa Monica commuting between conference sites at UCLA and the beach using just bus transportation. You can even catch it from LAX if you want to save a few bucks that way (the downside is hauling your stuff on the bus.)

Real Food Daily is worth spending some extra cash if you are into vegetarian cuisine. The pedmall was underwhelming to me though.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2005

I wrote a bit of a guide to West LA here.

The Georgian is one of the coolest hotels in Santa Monica, be sure to take advantage of their plantation style front porch.

There is a comic book store in that part of Santa Monica, but I'm not exaclty sure where. Kid Robot is right around the corner of your hotel. It's not a comic book store, but you might still like to poke your head in.

One of my favorite breakfast places is Jink'ys Cafe, also walking distance from your hotel. They have a counter and the servers are really nice.

For dining, it's hard to beat Border Grill's Happy Hour. It goes from 5-7, I believe, and they have some really good small plates for $3 each. There are some plantain empanadas that are unreal. Plus they have beer, mojitos and margaritas for cheap too.

I second the Big Blue Bus, it's handy and cheap to get around Santa Monica. You can also use the MTA website to plan further.

What days of the week are you going to be there? Midweek or is there some weekend involved?
posted by jonah at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ooh, thanks for the Kid Robot tip -- that's definitely right up my alley. And ditto for the MTA website.

I'll be getting in late afternoon on a Sunday, but will be there primarily during the week.
posted by Robot Johnny at 2:22 PM on September 21, 2005

Little Toyko is pretty awesome, and accessable from the LA subway system. It's a great area for walking around and exploring. If there's any small household appliance you have yet to see Hello Kitty-ized, you might want to check it out.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:11 PM on September 21, 2005

What's that place down on Main Street called again? The one with all the robots and whatnot in the window? I think it's open Sundays.
posted by Sinner at 4:00 PM on September 21, 2005

I can also recommend Little Little Tokyo, which is basically Sawtelle Ave between Olympic Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd. It's the extreme east end of SM, right next to the 405, but it's got lots of cool shops (Giant Robot) and restaurants (I strongly recommend Hide Sushi, which is more or less across the street from GR).

Definitely get down to the beach and walk down the boardwalk (well, it's a big concrete path, but so what?) south to Venice, a little touristy but well worth the visit.

And while not mandatory, I'd say you should definitely catch a movie in one of the big old-school movie houses in Westwood (the Mann Village and Mann National, and one other whose name escapes me). Totally different experience. In LA you pick your theater based on THX-certification and your preference in digital sound systems, unlike Philly where you pick your theater based on cleanliness of the floors and your odds of getting shot. Can you tell I miss it?
posted by Mercaptan at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

Page Museum - The La Brea Tarpits. Educational and conveniently located.
posted by SPrintF at 7:09 PM on September 21, 2005

After living in LA for two years, and visiting dozens upon dozens of time, there's not much I enjoy more than the Getty Museum. Accessible via bus from your location, I believe, and one of the few places you wouldn't want to drive to anyway.
posted by weston at 7:22 PM on September 21, 2005

Sinner--are you thinking of Jadis?
posted by electro at 7:44 PM on September 21, 2005

Golden Apple Comics is definitely worth a trip, and relatively accessible by public transportation (take the 720 to Fairfax, transfer to the 217/717 to Melrose, then it's about 2 blocks east). Also Meltdown Comics on Sunset is pretty good, though I haven't been there for a while.

If you go to Westwood, be sure to stop at Diddy Riese, across from the Mann Village. Puts Mrs. Fields to shame on all levels (taste, size, price); there's usually a line out the door, but it moves quickly.
posted by mogget at 7:55 PM on September 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, for these suggestions... it makes me wish I had more than just a few days!
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:17 PM on September 21, 2005

Westwood also has Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. I don't know how it ranks in the comic book world, but it looks like a pretty cool store. If you do go to Westwood, I second Diddy Reese. For lunch, I like Damon and Pythias or Gypsy Cafe which hookahs (if you're into that sort of thing) and even better, an amazing tomato soup.

An easy day would be to take the bus to Westwood, then maybe take a quick cab to the Getty. I often go up there just to enjoy the views and the gardens. Their cafe is pretty good too.

In Venice, one of my favorites is Mao's Kitchen, a funky Chinese food place which is cheap and tasty.

From Santa Monica, you can also rent a bike and cruise all the way down to to the Marina. You will see plenty of places to stop along the way.

Feel free to drop me an email if you're feeling lost in town, I should be able to give you some pointers.
posted by jonah at 8:52 PM on September 21, 2005

The comics shop on Santa Monica Blvd in SM is Hi De Ho.
posted by Guy Smiley at 10:12 PM on September 21, 2005

Due to strange Westwood retail regulations, Jay & Silent Bob's can only sell new merchandise, so they have no back issues of comics. Just FYI. They do have a lot of toys, t-shirts & other merch, as well as movie memorabilia on display (including Ben Affleck's Daredevil costume), so it might be worth a stop.
posted by mogget at 10:35 PM on September 21, 2005

If you visit the La Brea Tar Pits as suggested above, take a trip down the street to check out the King Tut Exhibit at LACMA.
posted by RoseovSharon at 11:51 PM on September 21, 2005

Two thoughts for getting away from the ubiquitous car culture of LA:
• A walking tour of the (remaining) Venice canals, which boast some very cool waterfront homes.
• Rent a bike or skates and try the (smooth concrete) boardwalk from Santa Monica south thru Marina del Rey to the South Bay beaches (El Segundo, Manhattan, Hermosa). It's easy going, fairly varied, and you're never too far from a restroom or a cafe.
posted by rob511 at 4:25 AM on September 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a very quirky museum in which at least half of the exhibits are made up entirely. It looks like the Santa Monica bus 12 stops right in front of it.

There's an express bus (or, at least, there was when I lived in LA) that will go from Santa Monica to the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, which will put you in walking distance of the La Brea tar pits(*) and various art museums. You can then walk north on Fairfax for about 15 minutes and get to CBS TV City where there is a ticket booth where you can get free tickets for whatever shows are being taped there.

If you find yourself hanging around CBS TV City for a while waiting for a taping, you can get a decent lunch at the nearby Farmer's Market.

If it's a clear day--especially if it's one of those clear days that you only get in LA after a few hours of pouring rain cleans away the air pollution--you can take a bus or cab to the Getty Center. The collection there is OK, but the grounds and the view are spectacular.
posted by yankeefog at 7:37 AM on September 29, 2005

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