A 2022 Los Angeles tourism guide
Ahhh, Los Angeles, California.
The cinematic capital of the United States. Hollywood glitz and glamour. Bright lights, celebrities, famous Youtubers. The media paints a sensational image of the city that’s hard to shake. It’s impossible not to want to visit, especially if you’re a big movies, film, tv, and entertainment fan like me.
After all, the second largest city in the United States emits a cultural impact and influence comparable to none other than New York City.
For this reason, LA has a tall order to fill given the way it’s been portrayed. I was lucky enough to visit the City of Angels as both a kid and an adult, and as an adult, I have to say, it’s worth the hype.
My personal experience coupled with additional research provides you with a few insights on where to stay, what to eat, and things to do.
Before we get into it, expect to encounter what’s common in large cities:
- Unhoused people. Due to systemic problems, the income inequality in LA is highly visible.
- Parking tickets. The parking signs on residential side streets don’t clearly communicate what is or is not legal.
- Traffic. Be mindful of rush hour traffic, and you’ll be fine. Mentally prepare for the high car concentration.
Now, let’s get to the fun part.
Where to stay
If you want to soak in the vibes of the UCLA campus and its surrounding area, look no further than Westwood. We stayed in this walkable neighborhood to scope out how livable the UCLA area would feel in case we ended up there for our next move. There was a lot of Gen Z college student energy.
This neighborhood topped second in terms of where to stay. According to the locals, it’s cool, fun, and hip with plenty of bars, restaurants, shopping, and instagrammable murals. Miss Tourist writes how West Hollywood boasts:
“the Sunset Plaza (ideal for some shopping), the Farmer’s Market (you might even spot a star or two here, by the way), the legendary Sunset Strip (a section of Sunset Boulevard), Runyon Canyon Park and, of course, LACMA — Los Angeles County Museum of Art”
For close beach access, Santa Monica ranks first. Located on the western side of the city, this place is both vibrant and relaxed with all the food, amenities, and entertainment you could wish for. More on Santa Monica later.
Where to eat
Sushi and Ramen
An LA native and Youtuber recommends Sugarfish for sushi. Yelp reviews rave about the food. We ordered ramen at Akuma Ramen & Sushi Bar in West Hollywood, and it was one of the best meals of our trip.
LA has a rich Iranian community, culture, and history, so if you like Persian food, get it while you’re there! We ate at Toranj near our hotel in Westwood, and it was pricey but delicious. The portions were huge. We had extras for the next day.
If you happen to be on the wrong part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which you won’t after taking my advice down below, the silver lining is that you might run into Hollywood Shawarma on Hollywood Boulevard. We ate there for a snack and it hit the spot.
Don’t miss out on Mexican food while you’re in California. We ended up eating the best tacos in a nearby beach town, but I’m positive LA will have plenty of delicious options.
I feel like I’ll get yelled at by LA natives if I don’t say In-n-Out. We ate there, but I don’t recommend it if you don’t eat beef. If you do, then definitely eat at In-n-Out.
Things To Do
You can easily hang out at the Griffith Observatory for at least an hour.
The observatory is a “gateway to the universe.” It has plenty of displays on the science of stars and the galaxy. Estimated time to get through it: 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your level of interest. It’s great for families and requires proof of vaccine upon entry.
Behind the observatory, you’ll overlook the entire city. It’s quite a sight, so soak in the views while you’re up there.
You’ll also peep the Hollywood sign from a distance. It will be smaller than you’d expect from that vantage point, but if you don’t have time to hike up to the sign, it still provides a solid alternative.
Hike up to the Hollywood Sign
While I personally did not make the hike, I read online that hiking could be fun. Be mindful of hot weather conditions as the summer months can be brutal.
According to this official website, the easiest hike starts off at the Griffith Observatory parking lot and stretches about 3 miles, so if you’re already at the Observatory and want a closer look at the sign, the easy hike might be the best option.
Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach
You can spend a pleasant afternoon visiting Santa Monica Pier and take in the vibes. It’s dynamic and high energy. We found a public garage two blocks away from the pier, which cost $4.00, the cheapest parking price of the whole trip. We checked out the surrounding streets, which were full of restaurants.
While we drove to Venice Beach mere minutes away, I would have opted to rent a bike to mosey down the beachfront path if time permitted. Venice Beach had plenty of restaurants. We treated ourselves to ice cream at Salt & Straw, which was justifiably very popular. The Venice Beach canals are worth a casual stroll.
Public Art “Urban Lights” Display
Possibly one of the most Grammable locations in LA, this public art display did not disappoint. It looks more impressive in photos than in person, and it was satisfying to observe it with my own eyes after seeing so many millennials post it to the gram.
To get there, you can park in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) underground garage, and it costs around $18.00. So make the most of it by walking around. You’ll find the La Brea Tar Pits nearby which have an ancient history dating back to the dinosaur era. You can also make a day out of it by visiting the LACMA museum.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
If there’s one thing that did not live up to the hype, it was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I still recommend you visit so you can put it behind you and say that you’ve been there, done that.
Please focus on visiting the walkable areas near the Chinese Theater and Dolby Theater. Do not waste your time by walking anywhere east of N Highland Ave. There’s nothing to see down there. Most of the celebrity stars will be closer to the Chinese Theater. Trust me.
Next time I visit LA, I want to hit up the following spots:
From the photos, the views are spectacular. I’ve also seen Youtubers hang out and picnic around there while enjoying the modern architecture and design. The museum itself looks entertaining if that’s your thing. It does require a timed reservation for entry, so be sure to look online and reserve a time for when you plan to visit.
Rodeo Drive sounds equivalent to Fifth Avenue in New York City where you can walk down the street to window shop and peak into overpriced, luxury brands on either side of the corridor. Not a must-do in my book, but probably worth it to pass the time. Because it’s located in Beverly Hills, you might as well pop over to the iconic Beverly Hills sign and take a pic, which I expound on below.
Because of its cultural cachet, I’d want a photo near the Beverly Hills sign on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Gardens Park. We drove past it, which was still cool.
I’m a park person. Echo Park Lake seems like a cool spot to rent a pedal boat on the water. From what I’ve read, Echo Park has an unfortunate history of gang violence and crime dating back to the 80s and 90s. However, in the last 5 to 10 years, it experienced an urban redevelopment overhaul, also known as gentrification. So I’d be cautious and curious to visit this neighborhood. If any Angelinos are reading this article and would like to educate us on the vibe, please comment below!
Hopefully, the long list of neighborhoods, sights, and delicious foods gets you excited about your upcoming trip. Safe travels, have fun, and don’t forget to take pictures!