My Little Guide to LA

After a quick taste test of LA, my first impression is that it's pretty similar to what you see everyday in American TV shows and movies. So there you have it, no need to visit.

No, I'm kidding. Go, it is awesome. But it is strange, growing up seeing these places on screen, they are so familiar.

LA was a cross between gritty representations like Pulp Fiction or Terminator 2 and beautiful depictions like Beverly Hills 90210 or the Hills: burger joints, seedy strips, bums, dive bars and parking lots on the tough side, and the hills, views, palm trees, mansions and yard guys on the pretty side.

I love LA, I love that dichotomy. So here's a super abbreviated, choose one of everything, quick guide to LA:

LA Highlights

BOUTIQUE Do the LA thing and head to local boutique Kitson, dedicated to celebrity style and designer clothing. They cover guys and gals clothing and accessories, plus some smaller gifty things like books and cosmetics.

VINTAGE Need a Lacroix sequinned gown, Chanel boots and a Dior jacket? The Way We Wore can cover it... if you can cover the price tag. This is a serious vintage boutique with a varied designer collection. Worth a look through just for the fashion eye-candy, if not to buy.

Above: View from the Getty Center

FANCY DINNER If you are a meat eater, happiness is Animal. You cannot go wrong with the menu or the wine list. Massive food highlights were the melt-in-the-mouth, rich ricotta bolognese and the crispy pig ears with fried egg. And ahh, I happened to sit next to a celebrity when I was there. You know, that's how I roll. So LA.

CAFE Go to cute Hollywood favourite Food Lab for good coffee, juices and excellent lunch and breakfast fare, such as scrambled eggs, gruyere, cress and aioli on wheat.

ART Think spaces filled with Warhol, Rothko and Pollock. Rooms of European masters. Artifacts from Mesoamerica. For a big-time, world-class gallery experience LACMA is hard to bypass. They have floors and floors of works, spanning many centuries and many mediums, with a focus on the Americas.

Above: Griffith Observatory

MUSEUM Jump in a monorail and snake up the hillside to the incredible Getty Center, a grand stone series of buildings looking out over the city, backed by a stately, manicured garden. This is an example of what good a billionaire can do for a city. The museum was funded by J Paul Getty and it has exhibitions, public programs, education, and research facilities onsite. Enjoy the views.

VIEWS Of course, there are great viewpoints in many spots around the city, but I like Griffith Observatory. You can walk through the famous Griffith Park to get there and check out the hot joggers, then get incredible panoramic views of the city, including the Hollywood sign. Very pretty on a clear night apparently.

ARCHITECTURE Make a booking and visit the Eames House which is on the beach in Santa Monica. This is where Ray and Charles lived and had a studio. The house they built is a remarkable piece of design, there is a pretty meadow and beach views. Their living spaces are set up exactly as they were left, so you can imagine the design duo right there, dreaming up a new minimal chair or two.

Above: Eames House

BOOZING Spend a night in Los Feliz and Silverlake for a taste of the hip, dimly-lit LA bar scene. Start up at El Chavo for tacos, salsa, beers and margaritas, then pop into Good Luck Bar for a cocktail in a totally kitsch former Chinese restaurant, then end up in the gutter outside a sweet dive bar like Ye Rustic Inn (1831 Hillhurst Ave). If you are still there in the morning, Rustic apparently has good buffalo wings, and serves em all day.

Above: Getty Center gardens

LA Tips

WHERE TO STAY Since the things to do in LA are so spread out and travel takes time, wherever you are staying, it will be hard to get to certain places. All you can do is either choose a location convenient to the things you most want to see and do, or choose a location to be in a cool neighbourhood.

Stay in Hollywood or West Hollywood if you want to see classic Hollywood sights and LACMA. It is kind of located in the middle of the key areas, so if one destination could be called semi-convenient, then this is it. Try to stay near bus lines that run between Downtown and Santa Monica, for maximum movement.

Stay in Los Feliz or Silverlake for a hipper experience close to bars, cafes and restaurants, but not particularly well located for seeing major sights, besides Griffith Park.

Stay in Santa Monica or Venice for some urban ocean times. But you will be pretty far from Los Feliz or Downtown, should you want to go there, but you'll have the beach!

TRANSPORT Nowhere in LA is convenient, it is like a series of cities, and they are all quite distant from each other. Getting around takes time, no matter where you stay or how you travel. Even getting from one place within Hollywood to another might be an hour's walk. Getting a bus from Hollywood to Santa Monica could take an hour or more, and driving the same distance could be 45 minutes.

LA is such a car city, so having wheels makes a lot of sense and will be a faster way to move if you are time poor or have to go somewhere off the beaten path. It costs about $50 a day for a car. You will have to deal with the insane traffic, though, and some aggressive driving, so buyers beware.

An awesome car alternative is using the car sharing service Uber. Get the app and sign up, loading your credit card details. Then you can get a local person to pick you up from anywhere, and taxi you anywhere you like. The service is a bit cheaper than a cab and you pay through the app, so no cash is transferred manually.

In terms of public transport, LA has lots and lots of buses and they are frequent, although getting around on them will take time. LA also has a train, although it doesn't cover ground like the buses do.



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Anna Metcalfe is a content maker, word writer and editor of things.