LA Suggestions for a couple
August 23, 2018 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for stuff to do in LA around September 2nd to 5th.

We're going to at least hit up Amoeba, UCB theater, Natural History Museum, Tar Pits and MOCA, but we don't have any clue what else to do. Music, Comedy, True-Crime/Occult stuff and Natural History/Taxidermy/Plants are areas of interest. Vegan food suggestions welcome but we're not worried about that (we have a huge list.)

Our plan is to rent a car for the LA portion of our trip, but if there are quality transit options in a specific area please suggest a neighborhood to stay in. We haven't reserved lodging yet.
posted by kittensofthenight to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Griffith Observatory was my favourite place when I visited LA last November. The view is spectacular when it gets dark and it's great planetarium as well.
posted by vespertinism at 12:43 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Before the trip check and -- they both have a weekly rundown of "10 cool things happening this week" and the like.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:51 PM on August 23, 2018

The Broad (pronounced like "Load") is a relatively new museum in downtown L.A. Most of the brand names of 20th Century American art are represented in one form or another. Admission is free, but you need tickets in advance. Miraculously, they still have some for the 4th and 5th. They also have some terrific special exhibits, but those queue up on a first-come, first-served basis once you arrive.

Outdoor film screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery are an L.A. summertime tradition. You'll be here for the screening of Now and Then, which may or may not be your cup of tea, but the films are kinda secondary to the overall vibe, which feels like the best of living in Hollywood to me. Plus, you can bring all your own food and alcohol and whatever. (Driving is a nightmare unless you are a certified L.A. neighborhood parker, so I highly, highly recommend using your rideshare app of choice for this. Also, plan on arriving wicked early to get in "line," which basically entails a highly organized two-hour tailgate party on the front lawn.)

My favorite music venue in L.A. right now is Zebulon Café Concert. They book the most adventurous and interesting music from (literally) all over the world. On 9/2 they're doing (also) one of my fave things in L.A., an avant-garde variety show called Weirdo Night hosted by actor/musician/performance artiste Dynasty Handbag. If you're the sort of people who love crazy cult '80s underground public access TV from the Lower East Side, this is kinda like the live version of that. But if that's not your, uh, bag, they have other stuff going on all week - sometimes two events a night. And the front bar/lounge is quite a nice hangout spot.

For an only slightly more "normal" comedy experience, on Tuesdays I highly recommend Put Your Hands Together at UCB Franklin (one of two UCB theatres in the city - don't be confused!). It's hosted alternately by Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, two of L.A.'s finest alternative comics, and their roster has the advantage of being (a) riotously funny and (b) skewed away from non-white/non-male performers. You can listen to the podcast in advance to get a taste of their vibe.

I dunno when you're leaving on the 5th, but Santa Monica Pier has a great free concert series called Twilight on the Pier. That night they're doing a special "Latin Waves" program headlined by Cuba's Orquesta Akokán.

Hubby and I are vegan, and you are spoiled for choice here. It really depends on what cuisine you like, but you can find almost anything nowadays. Happy to offer recommendations, but there are so many (and it will depend somewhat on where you end up staying/spending your time!). Rest assured, you'll find something almost anywhere though.
posted by mykescipark at 1:12 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Museum of Jurassic Technology seems like something you'd love. Seconding The Broad too.

If you want to do a fancy splurge meal, go to Plant Food & Wine in Venice. On the way opposite end of the vegan food spectrum, there's a Cinnaholic in Echo Park (if you're in a city that doesn't already have one), but, yeah, there's a lot of great vegan food in LA.

If you go to Santa Monica, the camera obscura is neat (for a quick visit) and the walk along the beach is super nice, so that's a pleasant way to spend the morning before other stuff you might want to do opens.
posted by snaw at 1:18 PM on August 23, 2018

Seconding the Museum of Jurassic Technology. While you're there, stop by the Center for Land Use Interpretation next door.
posted by eotvos at 1:36 PM on August 23, 2018

If you want to avoid driving - because yeah, the traffic is just as bad as everyone says it is - the best choice is staying downtown, preferably not right by the Staples Center (just because it's pretty soulless/sports bar-centric around there.)

From downtown you can take the red line to Amoeba and UCB (with a bit of a walk), and the Expo to the Natural History Museum and Museum of Jurassic Technology (which yeah, def go.) You can also walk to the MOCA and Broad and everything else downtown, like Little Tokyo and Grand Central Market. You will need a car or the bus to get to the Tar Pits though.

Outdoor places... Descanso Garden right outside Pasadena is amazing and has a terrific selection of California-native flora. Griffith Park and The Observatory are the rare combination of extremely popular, free, and actually worth going to. There's a shuttle that goes from the Sunset/Vermont red line stop straight to the Observatory.

For vegan-only restaurants, Sage in Echo Park is great, and Gracias Madre in Beverly Hills is awesome and pretty close to the Tar Pits. If you happen to go the Valley one day, Tony's Darts Away in Burbank is a great bar with mostly vegan food and and great vegan sausages. With that in mind, definitely pick a general part of town for each day to minimize travel time (don't try to do WeHo, downtown and Pasadena in one day for instance.)

Have fun!
posted by joechip at 1:44 PM on August 23, 2018

I'll second the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

I'd suggest cocktails at Musso & Frank, which is not far from Amoeba.
posted by dobbs at 1:48 PM on August 23, 2018

The Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino has great gardens (the desert garden in particular for me) plus library and art exhibits.
posted by kbuxton at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you don't mind a bit of a drive, the LA County Fair runs in September.

You said you're going to the Natural History Museum, but are you also going to the California Science Center?

If you're coming to Pasadena, you must go to the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens. Their corpse flowers are in bloom!

Also in Pasadena, Gamble House (aka, Doc Brown's house).

On the border of Pasadena and Altadena, the Eaton Canyon Nature Center and the little trails that branch off from there.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2018

The Marciano Art Foundation is an amazing collection of contemporary art. Admission is free, but you need a reservation.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown LA has a small museum, which is currently featuring The Art of Television Costume Design, featuring this year's Emmy nominees for Best Costume Design (including The Crown, Outlander, Game of Thrones, and Westworld). It's free and it's quite fun to get to see the costumes and the workmanship. They have a museum gift shop featuring local designers and at the other end of the building is their scholarship store, which has merchandise donated by fashion companies - you never know what you'll find there.

Also in downtown is The Last Bookstore, which is a great place to explore.
posted by mogget at 2:31 PM on August 23, 2018

Mefi's own scram runs esotouric
posted by brujita at 8:06 PM on August 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks, brujita. kittensofthenight, our tour bus is dark during your stay, but I can recommend the Museum of Death in Hollywood as a thoughtful collection of grim artifacts. The Huntington Gardens are amazing, but can be crowded. Just to the east, the less popular County Arboretum is a vast strolling garden with several remarkable historic buildings, including the Fantasy Island Queen Anne cottage and the opulent stables Lucky Baldwin built for his racehorses, also many peacocks.

Downtown can be heavy, especially after dark. If you're looking to stay centrally, check out the hotels in Little Tokyo.
posted by Scram at 3:23 PM on August 24, 2018

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