With the freezing cold temperatures and mounds of snow still taking over campus, I have been daydreaming of sunshine and warm weather. There isn’t a more quintessential place with these characteristics in mind than sunny Southern California. Home to picturesque beaches, the entertainment industry and the “cruffin” (a croissant-muffin), Los Angeles is generally at the top of people’s list of must-see places.
Where to stay
Where you stay depends on what you want to do. LA is really spaced out so I wouldn’t recommend walking from the shops on Rodeo Drive to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and you can not count on public transportation so driving is essential (beware though, the traffic can be an absolute nightmare during rush hour). With that in mind, make sure to book a hotel or Airbnb close to where you’ll be spending the majority of your time.
If you’ve never been to City of Stars, you’ll probably want to see all of the touristy things, and if you have no shame in letting it be known you’re not from the area, a really easy way to get around and to see everything is buying tickets for the double-decker city tour buses. Tickets are very inexpensive, it’s less than $50 to get a 24-hour pass, allowing you to hop on and off whenever you like.
What to do
LACMA – Now if you read my guide last week to Chicago you’d know that I am a big fan of art museums, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I’m telling you; you need to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The LACMA features an impressive collection of art both inside and outside of the museum. Its iconic Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden welcomes visitors before entering the building and makes for a great Instagram post. To give you a better idea of their ever-changing exhibits, two years ago when I went, Steve McQueen and Kanye West worked together to create a pop-up installation, which consisted of a short film for West’s songs “All Day/I Feel Like That Most.”
Get tickets to a live taping of a show – There are plenty to choose from: Conan, The Price is Right, Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and so on. Again, if you plan far enough in advance, you can score tickets to any of these shows for free. While I was there I went to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live; it’s exciting to see how these types of shows are put together and what happens behind the scenes.
Manhattan Beach – There are plenty of beaches to choose from including Santa Monica and Venice, but if you’re looking for a more mellow and less crowded beach experience Manhattan Beach is the one for you. The streets are super pedestrian-friendly and lined with plenty of boutiques and restaurants.
ArcLight Hollywood – For a true California experience, visit the ArcLight cinemas, specifically their flagship location in Hollywood. They have an in-house bar and restaurant, directors sometimes show up to talk about their movies and there are constantly exhibits of local art or props and costumes from the movies that are being shown.
Where to eat
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House – The best type of food is breakfast food and what’s better than a breakfast place on the beach? (The answer is nothing.) They have endless options, including a variety of eggs and omelettes, French toast and pancakes, breakfast wraps and the best potatoes you’ll ever eat.
Wahoo’s Fish Taco – I know I just said breakfast food was the best type of food, but tacos are a close second. Although Wahoo’s is a chain restaurant, it offers a SoCal/surfer vibe and the quality of food is much better than Chipotle or Moe’s.
In-N-Out Burger – Did you really think I would talk about California without mentioning In-N-Out Burger? Go there. Get the special sauce on everything. You won’t regret it.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse – If you have a sweet tooth for baked goods like me, this is a stop you cannot miss. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is the place to get a cruffin, which gained popularity nationwide starting at their San Francisco location. They have a variety of different croissants, donuts and Danishes among other things, and the greatest part of all is that you can also get the treats shipped to you.