Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to live in the city of stars. In the years between childhood and realising that it’s about time I grew up, Los Angeles was the perfect place to party. Little did I know, I’d learn the most about myself; mostly who I didn’t want to be.
A city that will either swallow you whole or spit you out with just enough time to spare you your last breath, Los Angeles lures many young adults who are dazzled by its charm. This is not to say that I don’t have a complete fascination and adoration for the city, in fact it’s quite the opposite; I miss living there every day. The endless sunshine, incredible Mexican food and exceptionally interesting people that you meet is incomparable to anywhere else in the world. But it’s a tough city; making friends is difficult and keeping up with the after-hours lifestyle is even harder.
Living in Los Angeles for six months paying cheap rent and without a job meant only a few things; I had more money to spend on alcohol (which is also ridiculously cheap!) and when I wasn’t at The Short Stop or face down in my pillow wishing I were dead, the city was at my disposal.
So, now that you’ve been warned, I can share with you 5 of the magical parts about the city that stole my heart.
Mouth-wateringly, marvellous Mexican food
I cannot explain to you in words how good the Mexican food in LA is and how frequently you should eat it. Arguably, you have to go to the right places, as there’s just about a Mexican restaurant or food truck on every corner. My recommendations: You can spot celebrities while filling your mouth with fajitas at Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks or sip magnificent margaritas at El Cholo, but a must-visit Mexican food truck is parked outside of the supermarket, Vons on N Alvarado St in Echo Park from 8pm every night! I assure you it’s 110% worth the journey!
A hike that defines the saying “take the good with the bad”, sitting on a jagged rock at the top of Runyon Canyon on a clear day is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. There is one section of the 2.5-mile track where you climb the side of the canyon and when you reach the top, gasping for air and unfamiliar with the legs that are attached to your hips, you turn around to find Los Angeles lying at your feet. Whether you’re into meditation, journal writing or just seeking refuge, this is the perfect spot to relish in a bit of “you” time. I would recommend taking some music and earphones however, as many others will probably be doing the same!
You can’t have an LA to-do list without mentioning Disneyland. They call it the happiest place on earth, and I can assure you, it most certainly is! Where you’ll see fully-grown adults walking around with Micky Mouse ears on their heads and men singing along to their favourite Disney tunes, Disneyland will make the corners of even the grouchiest persons’ mouths turn upwards. If, like me, you’re planning to stay in LA for an extended period of time, I highly recommend investing in the annual pass. And, there’s a free app called “Wait Times for Disneyland” that you should download before you go which gives you the current wait times for all rides in both Disneyland Park and California Adventure.
The coastline of Los Angeles is a comical yet fascinating environment. As if it’s its own mini social project, in Venice you’ll find artists, hippies, skaters, stoners, hipsters, surfers, muso’s and the alike all within a 3-mile radius. Have a mimosa brunch on Abbot Kinney then stroll down the boulevard with an ice coffee or organic juice, after which you should head to Venice beachfront where you can hire a bicycle or roller blades and slowly make your way north towards Santa Monica Pier. Stop and admire the skills of the skater boys at the skate park and take a sly peep at the real-life Terminator’s pumping iron at the outdoor gyms. But most of all, enjoy the Californian breeze in your hair, the desert sun on your skin, the smell and sound of the sea and the all peculiar characters that you’ll spot along the way!
I know there a many other sports that you’d prefer to see than baseball, but this nine-player, bat-and-ball game is adored in LA, particularly because of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even if you know nothing about baseball, you’ll recognise the iconic Dodgers baseball cap. On the day of a game, tickets can be as cheap as $10 on sites such as StubHub. I’d also recommend having a few beers before you head into Dodger Stadium and filling up on hot dogs or tacos as food and drink inside is expensive! The Short Stop in Echo Park has $4 16-ounce PBR cans and El Compadre next door does an insane Nachos!
There are so many things to do while in LA, whether it’s for weeks, months or years. This is just a short list of my recommendations, however please feel free to share others in the comments section below!