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July 13, 2014 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Seven hours to kill in Los Angeles - how to occupy our time? Special snowflake details inside.

My partner and I land in LA this Thursday afternoon after an epic 18 hour journey. Due to [reasons] we can't check in to the place we're staying until 8pm that night. We're looking for suggestions on what to do and see during this time, given that we will likely be very tired and jetlagged and not up for anything too onerous and stressful. We have another six days in LA so it doesn't have to be anything "must see", rather, seeing something in LA that will allow us to relax without wasting the time either. We'll probably be haggard looking and in our comfiest clothes, so anywhere that requires us to look a bit fancy is out as well. We will have a car, so are willing to travel a bit further out if it's worth it.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated!
posted by liquorice to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We're I you, I'd get a room in a motel on La Tiera for that time. Or call your hotel and see how much it would cost to check in early?

Rent a car and drive to the beach and hang out there. Nap in Malibu.

Go to a movie.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:22 PM on July 13, 2014

Where will you be staying?

I'm inclined to direct you to a beach area near LAX (Manhattan Beach, Venice, or Santa Monica), find yourself a chaise lounge at one of the beach area bars, put a cold adult beverage in your hand, and have you melt into the sunshine and cushions before you do anything else. Or maybe a rooftop bar (again with the chaise lounges) where you can get an eyeful of L.A. while you decompress.

Maybe followed by an idle stroll through one of the more walkable areas to shake off the plane funk, get a cup of coffee at one of our fancy coffee emporiums, grab a bite somewhere, then hit your hotel.
posted by nacho fries at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

What part of town are you staying in?
posted by scody at 6:31 PM on July 13, 2014

We're staying in North Hollywood at a friend's place.
posted by liquorice at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2014

We did the reverse of this a couple of weeks ago (noon checkout; red eye back) and parked the car in one of the 4th Street garages in Santa Monica. It's an easy and fun walk to the beach but cheaper than parking in beach parking, and while packed with people, it wasn't terrible except right on the pier itself. Venice is only a mile and a bit down from Santa Monica (though Santa Monica has a lot of options too!) and there are loads of coffee shops awaiting you with iced drinks (or bars with adult beverages). Excellent people watching, excellent ocean watching.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:35 PM on July 13, 2014

Yeah, come on over to Santa Monica and relax. Thursday night we have concerts on the pier, which impacts traffic and crowding, but since you're arriving much earlier, it won't be an issue at your arrival time.

Because you'll have stuff in your car (locked out of sight in the trunk, of course, but still), I'd advise parking in one of the smaller, attended private lots on or around Main St vs the big public ones in Downtown Santa Monica (which is a driving nightmare anyway). Summer tourist season is sadly also the season of car break-ins. Small lot + attendant and you'll be fine.

Main St will put you equidistant to the Pier/Downtown Santa Monica, and Venice (but after a long-ass flight, I'm not sure the Venice human carnival would be my first choice). You can walk around and see the sights in a low-key way, take a nap under a palm tree on the grass, stick your feet in the ocean, etc.

Given traffic to NoHo (and this wouldn't be an L.A. thread if we didn't descend into traffic-talk a la The Californians), you might want to consider staying put on the Westside until 8-ish to let traffic (slightly) cool off before rolling to your final destination.

Weather has been amazing by the beach this summer so far...come and get it.
posted by nacho fries at 6:48 PM on July 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Venice Beach. Asked and answered, baby!

Seriously, anywhere near the water. You'll be able to eat, shop, and chill out. Venice has the jaw-dropping weirdness of the boardwalk and nearby Abbott Kinney is a great stroll as well.
posted by phaedon at 7:11 PM on July 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live right by North Hollywood (in Toluca Lake), so I'm very familiar with weeknight traffic up there. It's a looong drive (20+ miles) from Venice or Santa Monica to NoHo and I would seriously not recommend navigating it when you're jetlagged after an 18-hour flight (especially if you add a few hours in the sun and possibly an alcoholic beverage or two into the mix), even if you stay put till 7:30 or 8:00 to let the worst of the traffic die down.

My recommendation would be to head from LAX toward North Hollywood, stopping somewhere on the way where you can chill for the afternoon and early evening, giving yourself a reasonable drive to get the rest of the way home. Specifically, I would suggest going to Farmers Market, where you can wander around, window shop, people watch, and eat delicious food, and then continue on your way after 7:30 or so. At that time of evening, it should be a very easy drive to NoHo -- only about 30 minutes, and most of it won't even be on the highway. If you do decide to do that, let me know and I'll tell you the route I take home (I work in the same neighborhood as Farmers Market).

When you've had a day or two to rest, then go to Santa Monica or Venice.
posted by scody at 7:49 PM on July 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Haul your tired asses over to Koreatown and indulge in the Wi Spa. Some parts are gender segregated, some are co-ed and they even have sleeping areas. You can stay for hours, eat, have a treatment or not. Entrance fee is only $25.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's my suggestion. I really like the little area (I think it's in Los Feliz, sort of where it borders Silver Lake) where Vermont Avenue intersects Hollywood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue. There are little shops and restaurants on the stretch of Vermont, and there are other restaurants and bars on Hillhurst and on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset nearby in Silver Lake. It's a very walkable, chill, hip area.

Skylight Books, one of the better independent bookstores, is on Vermont, just a block or so from the Vermont and Prospect intersection. There's a good coffee shop (Bru) just a few doors down.

After you get a bite to eat, you can head a few blocks up Vermont Avenue to Griffith Park (which some people call "LA's Central Park") and walk around or spread out a blanket and take a nap.

If you still have time to kill, there's a terrific used bookstore in North Hollywood called Iliad Books, which in my opinion is hands-down the best used bookstore in LA.

And the virtue of my suggestion is that all this stuff is pretty much on way to your accommodations in North Hollywood.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 8:58 PM on July 13, 2014

You are landing in the afternoon? That means you will be driving from LAX to North Hollywood in bad traffic. The later you leave the Westside the worse it will be. Do the majority of the drive right away and then chill near NoHo. Go to a movie. If possible use Waze on your phone to pick the route.
posted by conrad53 at 12:53 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with those above - it sounds like a beach day to me.
The issue is, which beach: Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu.

Venice has the most to do, the most shops and restaurants, but can be a little low-brow at times.
Santa Monica is great beach and has the pier. It is also closest to North Hollywood.
Malibu is beautiful and has the cleanest water, but is the furthest away and has the least restaurants.
posted by Flood at 4:24 AM on July 14, 2014

All good suggestions here (Farmers Market if you want to get there half way, Wii Spa is a cool experience). You don't say what time in the afternoon you arrive, but if it's early and you want something chill, I might go to the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica. You can bring in your own food and drink and relax poolside in a beach chair and umbrella, take a stroll along the beach, nap or take a shower. There are in and out privileges so if you want to take a swim and then go for a walk on the beach, you can do that. It's $10 and closes at 6pm. I know public pools don't usually sound nice but this one is--it was Marion Davies former house and it's a really nice huge pool. There is a cafe next door called Back on the Beach which is relaxing and you can sit with your toes in the sand while eating lunch (but the food is nothing special). It closes at 8pm. That would seem the most relaxing option to me. Wait until 7:30 to start heading to North Hollywood as traffic will be bad. If you like the stroll and shop option, Abbot Kinney in Venice is a good idea or Main Street in Santa Monica. M Street Cafe on Main has outdoor seating and good food if you want to just sit and people watch. I personally find the Venice boardwalk hectic and not very nice. Same with the Santa Monica Promenade.
posted by biscuits at 11:34 AM on July 14, 2014

My assumption, based on the fact that licorice has 7 hours to kill, is that the flight is arriving circa 1 pm.

One FYI about Annenberg: you'll want to factor in the shrieking kiddie factor, esp. in summertime. It's a cool venue, but just be advised.
posted by nacho fries at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2014

If you like museums and architecture:

For contemporary art I recommend visiting LACMA and/or MOCA followed by lunch in Little Tokyo

If you like quirky, cool, intellectual artsy, I recommend the Museum of Jurassic Technology followed by a stroll along Venice Beach.

Then there's the Getty Center's museum, which is architecturally interesting and also offers great views of LA.

And if you're going to Malibu stop by the Getty Villa.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 3:02 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regarding the shrieking kiddie factor at the Annenberg, my experience is that it's not bad. Maybe because it's 10 admission or that the majority of the pool is deep end and small children need to be accompanied by an adult in the shallower end.
posted by biscuits at 4:47 PM on July 14, 2014

Hmm, okay. My original inclination was beachbeachbeach but Scody has me thinking this may not be the wisest of choices. Thank you all for the abundance of options you have provided me with! I'll mull over it and let you know what we end up doing!
posted by liquorice at 6:32 PM on July 14, 2014

I marked Scody's answer as best answer because it was the best answer! We ended up getting out of LAX only around 2pm due the crazy that is customs and managed to while our time away quite easily at The Grove and the Farmers Market (and spent way too much money on our first day too boot!). Also saw two celebrities and got to deal with the traffic, so I feel like our first day was a great summary of the stereotype of LA. Thanks for all the advice and help!
posted by liquorice at 12:03 AM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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