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Santa Monica Pier

Visit L.A. in California like a local

Being in southern California you can’t not stop at the abundant beach locations up and down the coast.  With nearly perfect weather all year long this is a great way to spend part of your time here.  Enjoy the sun soaking and get your Instagram worthy picture.  If you are able to have a car for transportation, take a leisurely drive on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). This is a great drive to have your windows rolled down and the wind breezing through your hair.  Make a pit stop at Neptune’s Net in Malibu, a popular seafood joint where you will the find the surfer crows, motorcycle groups, and local residents.  If you are heading south, you can check out the other beaches along Orange County, including popular Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach.

Route 66, ©Nicholas Rosen

Santa Monica Pier and Venice beach

If you have been following Route 66 or just came into town you will need to stop at the end at the Santa Monica Pier.  This location features the memorable Ferris wheel, roller coaster, carnival games, and local arts and crafts.  It’s great for photography with the beach sunrises and sunsets.  Go up a few blocks and you can check out 3rd Street Promenade.  A popular area of high-end clothing stores and restaurants you can pick up some nice beachwear for your stay here.

Follow the walking and bike path south along the beach and you will reach the beginning of the Venice Beach boardwalk.  The graffiti and street artwork are pretty impressive here as you will see. You’ll see a mix of panhandlers, tourists, artists, some street performers, and locals fill the boardwalk every day.  There are some nice, cute breakfast spots on the boardwalk to enjoy some good people watching with your food.

In Venice beach you can walk off the beaten path and stroll through the Venice canals. There are multiple little bridges spread throughout the area making it an appealing place for photo’s and to take a quick break from the LA hustle and bustle.  You’ll find this is a great area of beautiful streets and relaxing atmosphere.

Venice canals in L.A.,©Nicholas Rosen

EXPLORE HOLLYWOOD AND DOWNTOWN L.A.

Once you are finished up here, jump on the tram to make your way to downtown L.A. This blue line will take you directly from Santa Monica to the center of downtown.  From there you can easily walk or take a ride-sharing app to your next destination.

Enjoy the Los Angeles landscape with a walk up through Griffith Park. This is one of the popular trails L.A. is known for and has become a part of the Los Angeles lifestyle. There are multiple paths to take you through these hills with the distance iconic mountains.  Nearby you will find the popular Greek Theatre if you want to catch a show or make your way to the Griffith Observatory for an opportunity to stargaze.  This is where you can get an amazing view of the city at day or night.  And of course, you will be able to see the iconic Hollywood sign that has made this city so famous.  It may be fenced off, but you’ll still be able to take plenty of photos for your album. This area has become so popular you’ll see plenty of foot traffic of hikers, runners, cyclists, and other tourists throughout the day.

Downtown L.A.,©Nicholas Rosen

WHERE TO EAT IN L.A.

If you’re starting to feel hungry make your way downtown to enjoy the festive L.A. food scene at Grand Central Market. This location is filled with a multitude of delicious street foods and desserts from a wide range of cultures that make up Los Angeles.  It shows just how much the locals enjoy their nights out and has become part of the city history.  Even if you are visiting for just a day, make time to stop here for a meal because you will certainly not regret it. This place has a combination of American, Japanese, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Fusion, and seafood so you will have plenty of options depending on what you’re craving. 

You may be reminded of similar food markets like Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA or Granville Public Market in Vancouver, BC. If you’re actually in L.A. long enough to do your own home cooking there is a small market inside for fresh ingredients. Fruits, vegetables, and a variety of spices can help save you a few dollars if you don’t want to order out every day.

Tip: L.A. also has specialty food events throughout the year so check your calendar when you are planning your visit here.  One of the most popular you will find is the 626 Night Market, catering towards Asian food and fusion of Thai, Singaporean, Chinese, and Filipino along with arts and crafts and live music. These are usually 3-day events so don’t miss out on this one from my own personal experience.

THE LAST BOOKSTORE AND THE MAGIC CASTLE IN L.A.

Afterwards you can take a short stroll to The Last Bookstore.  This is a downtown landmark and popular hangout even if you are not much of a book reader. Filled with new, used, and vintage books this is a great place to find maybe a book from your younger years that you may have gotten rid of and want to read again.  Its charm is from the high ceilings, decorative wall art, specifically placed Instagram photo opportunities, and prime location.

The Magic Castle is a world renown exclusive private club so it may be hard to get access to while you are in L.A. You need to be invited by one of the many magicians, mentalists, or illusionists that make up the membership here. But it is well worth it.  A performance venue, restaurant, bar, and private club all rolled into one fantastic night.  You will have the chance to dress up in formal attire and watch at least a half dozen small shows in a single night.  If you do manage to score yourself a ticket, be sure to plan ahead.

Magic Castle, ©Nicholas Rosen

L.A. will fill you with great memories and experiences to last a lifetime.  There is so much more to do out here in the city of angels in culture, nightlife, food, scenery so you may find yourself making multiples trip out here.  Just don’t pass up an opportunity to make this place one of your top favorites to visit.

About the author

Nick is an avid traveler spanning over 30 countries so far and continuing to explore what the world has to offer. During the COVID Pandemic he decided to share his own and others travel experiences by starting The World Overload.

Aside from working on the blog, in his spare time he also enjoys the L.A. food scene and learning about other cultures through annual events and pop-ups in the city.

Antonella
Antonella

Ciao! My name is Antonella and I am a Sicilian Travel Designer based in Catania, Sicily. My mission here is to share my knowledge and love for this amazing island of Southern Italy and to help you tailor your dream trip to Sicily.

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2 Responses

  1. I have been in California a couple of times, and it is absolutely wonderful; I liked Santa Monica very much, but I cannot say the same of LA, which is dirty, especially Hollywood!

    1. Hi Teresa, I’ve never thought about this aspect of LA and Hollywood, I guess we are talking about very touristic places with many people moving all the time, maybe this is the reason…what a pity, though…

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