I spent two years living in LA, and each time I go back I try to squeeze in as much as possible. Here are some of my must do's!
Rose Bowl Flea Market
The Rose Bowl Flea Market is the second Sunday of each month. If possible I like to plan any LA trips around this flea. There’s great flea markets pretty much every weekend in the LA area, but this is the mothership. It spans much of the parking lot of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, and you can walk miles without seeing everything. Great for midcentury furniture, vintage peasant dresses, and tiki mugs. You can always tell what the next trend will be by what’s popular at the flea. They were ahead of the curve on embroidered jackets and jumpsuits.
The original Disney park, where Walt actually stepped foot is, as any Disney fan would describe it, magical. But it’s also a beautiful time capsule of mid-century futurism (Tomorrowland) and exotica (Adventureland). For the best experience, get there before opening, during the week, during the school year. Be prepared to walk about ten miles over the course of the day. Must ride: Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
The Last Bookstore
The perfect mix of old and new books with plenty of cozy corners in which to peruse. While downtown, make sure to look up. The area boasts some of LA’s coolest art deco architecture.
Vintage Tiki Bars
The tiki bar craze originally started in LA in the 1930’s. LA’s oldest tiki bar, still in operation is Tonga Hut in North Hollywood. It still has much of it’s original 1950’s tiki decor, with more added since. Tiki-Ti in Los Feliz is another longstanding tiki bar time warp. There’s plenty of trendy new ones there too, but start with the classics.
When I have an LA trip planned, the first thing I do is check the schedules for Largo at the Coronet and The UCB Theatre. Largo has an old theater feel with velvet draped walls, and worn in chairs. UCB Franklin is a small black box theater; get your tickets in advance and be prepared to stand in line early to get decent seats. Both have some of the best comedy talent regularly rotating through. I also love Groundlings. There are lots of popular stand up clubs, but I prefer the more off beat comedy that plays at these alternative venues.
My favorite way to visit the beach is to drive down the PCH between Malibu and Santa Monica and pull off to the side of the road and find some isolated spot to sit and watch the waves on the sand.
The Getty and LACMA are two of my favorite museums. The permanent collections are great. The architecture is great. The views from The Getty are fantastic.