Some of the best times I've had in LA are exploring off the path sorts of restaurants and little nooks and crannies in the different parts of town.
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Stop by K-Town and find a little Korean restaurant with no English on the menu. There are a dozen or so great ones. Then head down to Little Hanoi and try some Vietnamese food. Go over to Fairfax and try all 3 of the Ethiopian restaurants. The one with the crazy lady who practically drags you in off the street is great, and so is the one run by the guy who thinks hes a sultan with his harem of serving girls.
Head over ot China town, and walk through the big indoor clothes shopping mall. Push through all the strange shops, and pick out a sweet Bruce Lee outfit for about 15 bucks. Makes great PJs. Eat some odd little munchies.
Hit King Taco. Damn thats some good food.
Head to the Brewery Artist colony. Especially when they do one of their twice yearly art walks. Eat a hot dog, see a shit load of art. Some of it crap (some of those artists can't be paying the rent with that junk, must be nice to have a trust fund), but also many really great artists in the mix.
Hit the Pico Rivera swap meet. Check out all the stolen merchandise. Haggle for a hot power tool. Or buy a canary.
Go to Hollywood Park, gamble, lose money. Repeat. Check out the Century Blvd hookers on the way back. Wonder as I do how anyone pays them for sex. I wouldn't have it with one of them if she paid me.
There are Japanese restaurants in Gardena where I felt like the first Gringo to have ever set foot inside. I ate a few things that I couldn't identify, but it was great fun.
Go to the crazy reptile only pet store in Huntington Beach. Some big ass reptiles.
Head to the Valley. Oh wait, scratch that. Don't ever ever ever ever go to the valley.
Go swim in the big fountain in Los Feliz, right by Grifith Park. Throw pennies at the little kids.
Go horse back riding in Grifith Park.
Putt Putt golf. Bowl. Go-Cart Race. Ok, all thats out of your system now.
Go to Bergamont station in Santa Monica on a Saturday and look at more art. Pretend you can actually afford it, and have the curator follow you around as you decide what piece you should purchase for that new house you got in Malibu.
Go to Cerritos auto square and test drive every car ever made in the year 2003. I liked the Lexus personally. I liked it so much I almost bought the damn thing. But I think I'll get a Harley instead. More fun.
Check out Watts Towers in Watts. Now that is some crazy shit. Amazing what one man with a vision and a few screws loose can create. I was totally in awe.
Go to Miss Kitty's Parlour and have a dominatrix smack your ass on stage while you whistle Dixie. Get there early and pay only a $7 cover. Give Miss Kitty a big ol' kiss on the cheek from me.
Go to Catalina Island. Ride the funny little submarine boat and see all the fishies. Go to Long Beach Aquarium, and pet a shark. Go to the zoo and have gorillas throw poo at you. Woo hoo fun.
Go back to King Taco. Damn thats good stuff.
Eat at Uzbekistan in Hollywood. Bet you never had Uzbek food before. After that trip you can say you have.
Go up to the top of Signal Hill and just look around. Day or night, its a great view. Better if you're with a member of the oppisite sex. Unless you are gay. Then better with a member of the same sex. While you are in the area, go to the port of LA/Long Beach and look at all your consumer goods come in to town on those big ass ships. Go see the Queen Mary if thats your thing.
Drive over the bridge, cause there is no toll now. On the other side explore San Pedro. Yes, San Pedro. Its kind of cool. A great and growing arts district with open studio nights, and Papadakis Taverna, the best Greek restaurant ever. EVER! No arguments. The 2 brothers that own it should be national treasures. I got to dance around and break a wine glass on the floor. It was a blast. And how many times have you been to the other side of Palos Verdes? It takes about an hour to drive around that chunk of rock, but its a great view.
Go to Gardens of Taxco restaurant on Santa Monica in WeHo. You will not leave hungry, it is the best Mexican place in town. (well, except maybe King Taco.)
Go to old El Segundo. I mean the hidden little main street tucked away. You'll feel like you're in a little tiny town in the midwest. Rinaldi's makes the best sandwiches ever. Then marvel how such a cute little white bread town can be right next to a major airport, a power plant, and a major oil refinery. Crazy.
Go downtown to the garment district. Wander around, check out some crazy cheap clothes, but some fabric for no reason.
Take a date and ride the gondola through the canals in Long Beach. Its down by Belmont Shores. Bring a bottle of wine and a blanket. They supply the deli snacks. The gondola driver will actually sing to you. Its so cute. Kiss under every bridge. Tip the oarman well you cheap fucks.
Go to an indoor shooting range (they are all over.) Rent a gun and blast away at a paper target. Its nifty. If you really want to have fun, reject the cliche Saddam or Osama targets, and say to the proprietor "no thanks, I brought my own Charlton Heston, NRA President target." See if they laugh. Prepare to duck in case they open fire.
Go to Sit and Sleep, test a really comfy mattress and doze off. They left me there for about an hour before they politely woke me up.
Drive around South Gate, Hawthorne, Pico, Vernon, Watts, Huntington Park, K-Town, Boyle Heights. Don't worry, the people are perfectly nice. Honestly. Now drive around Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes Estates. See which people seem more friendly. Which are more interesting. Take a few photos as you go. See all of LA, not just the rich parts. The poor parts are often just as rich in their own ways. I've only lived here a few years, but I've explored most communities, and I've found neat stuff in all of them.
Its funny, I've met people that have lived here all there life and they couldn't find South Gate or El Segundo on a map if you had a gun to their head. Heck, some of them don't even know where Torrance or Seal Beach is. I met a girl born and raised in Manhattan Beach who had never been north of the 10 freeway, or east of the 405. Her whole life had been spent in about a 10 square mile area. Get out, have fun, explore. LA is a big friggin smorgasborg with endless things to see and do. Millions of odd people to meet. Most of you probably don't even know one of the greatest Steak houses in the world is in La Mirada. Go find it, throw some peanut shells on the ground.
Remember that the "industry" is a fraction of the people in this town. Yes, sorry to break it to you, they aren't even close to the top employer in LA. There are tons of other of us non-industry people out here, each with their own interesting stories. Go explore some of them.
Alright, I have a zillion other suggestion, but its late. I now suggest I go to bed.
And sorry about all the food references, I'm hungry.
So go to King Taco. I'll see you there.