Los Angeles Like a Local

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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.

See the locations here.

Urth Caffe

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)!

See the locations here.

Earth Bar 

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).

See the locations here.



Tom Bergin’s

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.

The Varnish

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.

Chateau Marmont

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.

Venice Canals


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).

Venice Canals

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!?

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    June 2, 2015 at 8:02 am

    As someone who is from LA, I’d like to point out that it’s frickin’ huge so maybe breaking it up into different neighborhoods would be helpful. Pasadena and the SGV has amazing hiking and not so congested and full of hipsters and sorority girls. Santa Monica has Huckleberry. Malibu has the Getty Villa. So much to see and do. Also, I apologize for the terrible traffic. We hate it too.

    May 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing.

    April 22, 2015 at 3:22 am

    It’s very interesting to experience new cities like a local – or, your hometowns like a tourist! That’s a also a great idea.
    I did that recently by heading on a tour in my own city! T’was so much fun 🙂

    Mrs Globalicious
    April 22, 2015 at 12:54 am

    Thank you so much for sharing these “Insider”-Tipps! I have been in Hollywood just once and unfortunately I also was just able to see the tourist spots. The next time I will fly out to LA, I will definetly take a deeper look.



    April 21, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I’ve only been to LA once when I was 12, but I’m dying to go back! When I went before, I was with my family and we mainly stuck to the touristy spots like Hollywood Boulevard, Disneyland, the Grove, etc. But I really want to go back and see some of the less touristy places, especially the Venice canals and Runyon Canyon. I might go to LA with some friends later in the year, so if I do I will definitely check out the spots on your list 🙂

    Jessica @The Belle Voyage
    April 21, 2015 at 4:05 am

    These are some great spots! For more celebrity sightings, check out the stairs just north of San Vicente ave – stars work out there all the time. You can google it for the exact location. Another fun spot to wander around is Abbott Kinney in Venice – tons of cute shops and boutiques!

    April 21, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Griffith Park is still up there in terms of some of my favorite things to do and I love Urth Caffe!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    Inez Diva A
    April 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Thanku for the recommendation, I always love travel like local anyway

    April 19, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I want to stay in an AirBnB I feel like you might feel more like you’re staying at a friend’s home instead of at a hotel which can feel a bit stuffy at times. I think being in someone else’s home might be a bit odd at first but I think a more casual way to travel might be refreshing.


    April 19, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Ohh I would love to try Earth Bar! I’m so addicted to Acai Bowls, it’s what I miss the most about Los Angeles to be honest. I also love Sweet Butter, if you wanna try an amazing Studio City brunch spot next time you’re in town 🙂

    April 19, 2015 at 4:47 am

    must say as an LA local I love love love Urth cafe, another great hiking spot is the culver stairs, for drinks and food I love the culver hotel, if you feel like “dancing” la descarga is fun. The farmer’s Market at the grove is my favorite, great great food!

    April 19, 2015 at 3:10 am

    Love this Brooke! First and last time I was in LA was last year, and we need a lot of touristic stuff! Would love to go back one day and experience the city as a local, and these are great tips I’ll take with me when the time comes!

    Yasmin x

      April 19, 2015 at 3:11 am

      oops I meant, *we did not need, my bad!

    April 19, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I’ve seen all the usual tourist-y attractions in LA so whenever I’m there again, it’d be great to visit some of the places that the locals love! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Malena Permentier
    April 18, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    I’m going to LA in June and can’t wait to try out your recommendations for myself. Thanks so much!!

    X Malena

    The Dame Intl
    April 18, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    LA has always been on my bucket list of places to visit so thanks for these great tips, I’ve saved them into my travel folder 🙂

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    April 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    This was a great read, I love these kind of reviews that go beyond the usual ‘to do’ list. Definitely want to check out Urth!

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

    Mindy park
    April 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I’ve been living at LA for 10 years now and I’m so happy to see your post! LA really has great food – my favs are Sqirl, blu jam cafe, cliff’s edge, Yatai at the moment. I enjoy going to farmers market, DT grand central market is awesome, and grabbing a drink at the DT Ace hotel rooftop bar is hard to beat!

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    April 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I’ll be in LA in October (my third time). Can’t waaaaaaaait!!!

    Jake Ryan
    April 18, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Glad you’ve posted this because I’m visiting LA during a road trip soon and love doing as the locals do. And I booked a room using Air BnB too. Will be my first time using it.