I’ve always wanted to experience Los Angeles like a local – but there’s just one thing; I’m not a local. Prior to my quest to experience and explore Los Angeles like a local, I had visited the city a few times before. On these occasions I had hopped on tour buses and been shuttled around the city from one ‘hot spot’ to the next. It was fun, for sure. But it wasn’t anything close to the local Los Angeles experience I was after. So I set off on a four day quest to experience Los Angeles like a local…
Hotels are effortless for the most part, but still so far removed from any ‘local’ experience. So this time I pledged to ditch the luxuries of hotels: daily cleaning, fresh linens, and yummy buffet breakfasts. No more! For my stay in Los Angeles like a local, I booked an Air BnB apartment in popular and centrally located West Hollywood. The apartment was significantly cheaper than hotels in the area, coming in at $180 per night including cleaning and service fees. This was by far the biggest expense of the trip, but still much more affordable than to book a hotel room.
Food glorious food! Where would we be without it!? Los Angeles is bursting with endless great food options – from the weird to the wonderful. If you want healthy, fresh, inexpensive food finds, I would highly recommend a few favourite spots I found during my time in WeHo:
Joan’s On Third (pictured)
Joan’s On Third has long been a favourite of locals – so much so that they have opened up a second location in Studio City. Come here for a hearty and wholesome brunch, or to pick up a quick snack for the road. The prices are extremely reasonable and the food is great.
Urth is near enough to an institution in Los Angeles. Now with 5 locations in WeHo, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Downtown and Pasadena, you’re sure to find an Urth Caffe near enough to you in Los Angeles. Be sure to try the Spanish Latte – a mug full of sweet, caramelly/coffee goodness, and the quiche is a good lunch option (just be sure to go hungry – the portion sizes are in your favour)!
This little life saver is situated on Santa Monica Boulevard (but there are oodles of other locations) and has been a celeb hotspot for ages. It is renowned for having some of the best, fresh, reasonably priced juices and smoothies in town, but it is the acai bowls which stole my heart. They’re huge – and priced at just $6.95 for a small; $9.95 for a large (feeds two with leftovers).
This is one of LA local’s fave spots to frequent. Home to a broad range of whiskeys and upmarket pub style food, Tom Bergin’s is a reliable watering hole to check out if you want to mingle with some locals.
A secret hideaway that is home to some of the best cocktails you’ll find in LA. And when I say secret, I truly mean this place is hidden. You’ll find it in the back of Cole’s, behind an oak door that displays a framed drawing of a cocktail. You’ll find Cole’s at 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles.
This LA institution has been a favourite watering hole for the socialites of the city and all their ‘closest friends’ for decades. You’ll certainly spot someone famous on any given day, but keep it chic and blend in rather than be ‘that guy’ who makes a big deal out of… well… anything. This is a see and be seen place, so be sure to dress to impress.
There’s much more to LA beyond Hollywood Blvd and Theme Parks. To explore LA like a local, consider these three activities to get out there and explore the real Los Angeles:
Hike Runyon Canyon
There are many great hikes through the hills of LA, but if you ask a local they’re likely to tell you that Runyon Canyon is their fave. The entire track will take you around 2 hours (walking comfortably with photo stops along the way), and offers some of the best views of LA. Look to one side and you’ll see the Hollywood sign in the distance, and to the other you’ll have an unobstructed view of Los Angeles on a clear day.
Bike ride the coast
Hiring a bike and riding from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach is not just something tourists like to do, it’s a favourite pass time for locals, too. Bike rentals will cost you $8 per hour or $25 for the entire day and there are a few different vendors on each side of the ride (some at Santa Monica Pier; some at Venice Beach).
But perhaps my favourite secret activity lies beyond the popular beachfront shops and pop-up market stalls on venice beach — the venice canals. These were built (yes, they’re man made) back in 1905 by developer Abbott Kinney as part of his “Venice of America” plan. Nowadays very few tourists visit the canals, which is mostly due to them being little known. Now the secrets out, be sure to drop by when you’re in the area. You won’t regret it!
The Farmer’s Market
Last but not least, the LA Farmer’s Market. This is an incredibly popular spot for both tourists and locals, but because it is so damn good, I had to include it. Come here to find fresh produce and a wide variety of food stalls. Its kind of like an open-air food hall of sorts and believe me, the quality and selection is world class.
Are you an LA local? Where are your favourite spots to share with WOW readers!?