One day in LA!
July 11, 2017 11:26 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I will be in LA for Sunday 10th September. Neither of us have been before or are likely to be there again in the near future. We are Europeans, currently live in London, like walking, are fairly bohemian artsy MeFites and don't have a desire to spend all day in a museum. What should we do??

Other relevant information:
- We are staying near USC, then flying out of LAX on the Monday
- No massive desire to see Hollywood or a tour of the stars' homes
- No particular desire to go to art galleries or museums unless there is something specific not to miss
- Our knowledge of LA is mostly based on Pretty Woman and skateboarding films!
- Definitely no desire to hire a car
- We looked at the LA conservancy waking tours and these sound good but unfortunately don't tie up with when we are in town
- We both like eating tasty food, but are much more into the street food end of the scale than the fine dining.
- In particular I have never had good fish tacos and would like to rectify this!

From perusing various 'top 10' things to do in LA so far our plan is to head down to Venice Beach and spend the day walking along there and then grabbing a beach side dinner. Any ideas of other things we should do or places we should go much appreciated!
posted by Albondiga to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Take the train (expo to the red/purple line) to the Grand Central Market in Downtown LA!
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:50 AM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Consider building your day around this event....

Artisan/food scene here is vibrant. You are in DTLA and can work out from this event....

The Last Bookstore -
Grand Central Market
Bradbury Building

The Broad may be worth a trip museum-wise

All are within walking of smoragaburg or a cheap uber

It's nice in that the areait is a combo old school/now Los Angeles with a minimal Hollywood industry vibe.

It's a little further from can check out Echo Park area where Sunset Blvd intersects with Echo Park Blvd. Any trip I take I like to build around a coffee house / bookstore. There is a the Stories Bookstore/Coffeehouse at 1716 Sunset Blvd. It's quite enchanting (I am writing from here now) You'll find equally charming discoveries walking 3-4 blocks north/south of here.

P.S. Dress for heat
posted by goalyeehah at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm definitely agreeing with the downtown idea, with the elements mentioned above.

Also: within a few blocks, you've got the very beautiful Union Station, Olvera Street (yes, a tourist trap, but get some taquitos from Cielito Lindo with the avocado sauce -- you're welcome -- and check out the Siqueiros mural), Chinatown, Philippe's (Home of the French Dip and seriously great mustard, which you can buy to take home).

I know you said you're anti-museum but The Broad is kind of amazing, and also rather small, so you can spend an hour there and feel like you saw everything. Even better, tickets are free. (Try to get advance tickets online so you can avoid the queue. I think September tickets become available August 1st.)

Lastly, I'll just mention that there's a Dodgers game that afternoon, and it's a rather classic American thing to do, to spend a warm September day watching baseball.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:50 PM on July 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Street food would be most easily sampled at Smorgasburg in downtown LA, but it's not close to the beach. Hollywood as a neighborhood doesn't really have any working studios set up for behind the scenes tours, (Universal has the best one, and it's in Burbank.)
Mercado Olympic in the piƱata district has great Mexican street food, but it's not very scenic in a tourist sense (no public toilets, not convenient to transportation.)
I love downtown, and live there, but it's not like New York or London--it's not very lively on Sunday, that's for sure. LA is huge--public transportation is better than it was, but it's not wildly convenient. Personally, I'd go to the beach via Uber.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:55 PM on July 11, 2017

The cultural event of the year happens that weekend.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a special and unusual place, perhaps best experienced without too much foreknowledge. I do think it would appeal to bohemian artsy types, even those not especially looking to spend time in a museum.
posted by the_blizz at 2:12 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Since you're staying near USC, you'll be near the California Science Center. It's not a great museum in itself, in my opinion, but seeing the space shuttle Endeavour is well worth it.
posted by karbonokapi at 2:13 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and regarding the fish tacos: you'll be near Holbox and its more land-based relative Chichen Itza
posted by karbonokapi at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2017

For fish tacos, I like "The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada"... which is actually in Silver Lake.

Bring cash for that!
posted by Temeraria at 4:30 PM on July 11, 2017

Best answer: If you're headed towards the beach for the day, I would:

Take the expo line (USC, Vermont, or thereabouts) to the beach. Walk from the train down Main St. in Santa Monica (little yuppie shops and coffee but very local feeling) to Rose (which is the Venice border) and then cut down a block to the beach and start walking in Venice. There should be food trucks at various places on this route, and food trucks line up on Ocean near the pier, down the block from the train station.

The #1 Blue Bus and #733 Metro bus run down Main St if you get tired when it's time to turn around. There's a beach-side bike path and you can rent bikes all over, if that's your thing.

That's my neighborhood, so MeMail me if you have any questions!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:55 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would rent bikes in Venice Beach and cruise south on the bike path to Manhattan Beach and back!
posted by TheClonusHorror at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh! You can also rent bikes from at least two places within a block of two of the train station, if you wanted to go all bike from the train station. Komodo on main Street in Venice is the brick-and-mortar storefront of the popular food truck. It's very good, with fusion tacos etc from an Indonesian chef.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:20 PM on July 11, 2017

Best answer: I'm in agreement with Room641-A. I was going to come here to say 'go to Santa Monica, hang out for a while, visit the pier and walk to Venice'. It's enough to just hang out in both areas for some time. I fell in love with Santa Monica. If I were to go again, though, i'd spend some more time in Venice, around the canals and the shops. Venice is a bit like Camden (for a London comparison) but it's nicer (I hate Camden). You're not missing anything in Hollywood. I felt like my brain was being beaten with a stick of fire when I got to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Exhausting.

I also want to recommend the Beverly Grove area near the Farmer's Market. It's not a 'big deal' (and I don't think anywhere in L.A. is) but it's a cute little area.

You can do those 3 in a day without feeling exhausted.

As for food, take a look at the food tours on Trip Advisor.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:15 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure the timing (with the truck's hours) will work out for you, but if you you're looking for a good fish taco I'd go to the source: Ricky's Fish Tacos.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a downtowner so I'm going to jump on the downtown train. And you can take the train to downtown - the Expo Line goes from USC to DTLA! One thing I will say with absolute surety: do not walk to Smorgasburg from anywhere else or walk from Smorgasburg to anywhere else. The immediate area around Smorgasburg is pretty darn dodgy. Lyft is your friend.

Two of the best purveyors of tacos are in DTLA and a couple more are DTLA-adjacent, as seen here. Guisados has some downtown(ish) locations and does excellent fish tacos. BS Taqueria is fantastic but you'd better like spicy food. If you want honest-to-God street food you can also Metro to Ricky's Fish Tacos, which is usually in the Vons parking lot near Vermont/Sunset station - and then you can easily walk to the main drag of Los Feliz from the station.

Seconding the Hollywood Bowl show linked above. Not just because Muppets and fireworks (but Muppets and fireworks!) The Hollywood Bowl is a unique place to see a show. It's an outdoor amphitheater that is 90-ish years old. You can bring a picnic dinner and beer or wine to enjoy with the show. It's a tremendous amount of fun. Message me if you want a bit more detail on how to Do the Bowl, including how to get there by public transit etc. etc. (My partner and I have season tickets.)

I would generally recommend esotouric as an alternative to the LA Conservancy tours, but the timing may not sync up.
posted by rednikki at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

grabbing a beach side dinner.

Literal beach side dining:

Back on the Beach. Looks like they've fancied-up the joint but it's the only place with tables right in the sand. I've only ever ordered the cheeseburger and fries but they're solid. About a mile north of the pier/train station, walk or bike up the bike/ped path to get there.

Since Main St. is just a block from the beach, you'll have that plus lots of other options to get food to go if you want to have a beach picnic. You can also do this in downtown santa Monica and eat on a bench in Palisdaes Park overlooking the beach and ocean. This is where the food trucks are, and there are countless other options. (I'm keeping my suggestions close to the train station.)

Maybe Big Dean's.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:04 AM on July 12, 2017

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