A Young Professional’s Guide To Adventures In Los Angeles

People are always asking me for good places to check out when they travel, so I thought I’d put this together to share some recommendations for places to hit and places to miss!  My knowledge of Los Angeles comes from living in the area for four and a half years.  – Sarah Donaldson


* Hollywood and Highland:  The must see.  All the stereotypical things you need to see on a LA tourist’s checklist.  Mann’s Chinese Theatre, The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Jimmy Kimmel Live is across the street.  Avoid taking a photo with the costumed crazies… they just want your tips.  Additionally, shops and restaurants fill the complex where The Academy Awards are held every year at The Kodak Theatre. – http://www.hollywoodandhighland.com

* Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier:  Give yourself at least 3-4 hours to explore the shops and restaurants over here.  Barney’s Beanery or Cabo Cantina are good places to grab a bite where you can also probably find people to chat with if you are on your own.  For a splurge, The Lobster is very expensive but overlooks the ocean.  Ma’cai is great for sushi and along the water.  Bubba Gump’s is cheaper and right on the pier.   The Penthouse at The Huntley Hotel has an incredible view and has pricey dining, but can be good for a cocktail.  If you’re lucky, you may find the monkey on the promenade that shakes your hand for a dollar.  Dancers and musicians fill the promenade, too.  – http://www.downtownsm.com

* The Grove:  Another great place for shops and restaurants.  The Cheesecake Factory is a popular affordable American chain with a location there with a guaranteed long wait unless you sit in the bar area which is first come first served.  A few more expensive restaurants  surround the giant fountain in the center of The Grove such as Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro as well as La Piazza Ristorante Italiano.  Maggianno’s is adjacent to The Farmer’s Market there and is also a great choice.   But, if you’ve never tried an Umami Burger, you simply have to try one of Los Angeles’s most popular treats.  The Grove is simply a beautiful place to wander around for a bit, shop, and dine.  Of note, “Extra” hosted by Mario Lopez and Maria Menounous films there.  – http://www.thegrovela.com

* Go see live tapings of shows!  Check out some of these websites for free tickets:  www.1iota.comwww.ocatv.comwww.audiencesunlimited.comwww.seatfillersandmore.com

* Nightclubs:  Most of the nightclubs are near Hollywood and Highland.  Personally, I would prefer driving to Vegas for a good night out due to the hassle of parking, lines, promoters, and cover charges in Hollywood.  Some clubs to check out in Hollywood that are popular include:

Playhouse (Top 5 clubs in the U.S.) – http://playhousenightclub.com/index.cfm

Drai’s Hollywood – http://www.draishollywood.com/www_main/index.php

Supperclub – http://www.supperclub.com/html/losangeles

Tru – http://www.truhollywood.com

The Roxbury – http://www.roxbury.la

The Colony (by SBE) – http://www.thecolonyla.com

Anywhere by the SBE Group (also for dining) –  http://www.sbe.com

Anywhere by the Dolce Group (also for dining) – http://www.dolcegroup.com

* Pizzeria Mozza / Osteria Mozza:  Celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich have created such a popular dining destination that they can boast of being one of the top hardest to score reservations in the U.S.  The pizza bar at Pizzeria Mozza allows walk-ins though, so you can still get a great last minute bite.  Just be sure to pair your gourmet pizza with a glass of Joe Bastianich’s wine, even perhaps a chianti.  – www.mozza-la.comhttp://eater.com/archives/2011/07/29/are-these-the-eleven-toughest-reservations-in-the-us.php#more

* Pink’s Hot Dogs:  The most famous place to get hot dogs in America.   Street dogs served up on hot carts on the street also might sound pretty unsanitary, but give a bacon-wrapped hot dog a try.  http://www.pinkshollywood.com

* LA Live:  The Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, and Club Nokia are the main places to see concerts in town.  Many restaurants fill the area, as well.  If nothing is going on in the area, it’s not worth heading to the area in downtown, but if there is, it will be packed and there is almost always something happening there. – http://lalive.com

* Summer Time Concert Venues:  Be sure to check out the calendars at The Hollywood Bowl and The Greek Theatre.  Fantastic outdoor concert venues: http://www.hollywoodbowl.comhttp://www.greektheatrela.com

* Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach:  If you can take a little drive, you’ll love Hermosa and Manhattan.  This is where I lived.  Skip Venice beach where other people may tell you to go… it’s gross.  Manhattan beach has blocks of adorable boutiques and good places to dine.  Hermosa has a street by the beach completely blocked off where there are good places to go out to at night and some shops, too.  A clean, relaxing place to spend a day on the beach.  Beach volleyball stars are born in this area and everyone is a beach babe.  Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beach are referred to as The South Bay. – http://www.southbayevents.com/events/outdoors-in-the-south-bay.asp

* Venice Beach:  This is like Haight and Asbury in San Francisco.  It’s a bit too “medical marijuana friendly” and dirty for my liking.  The shops are tacky and the sales people look unbathed.  The two times I had to go over there for day jobs were more than enough for me.  I know someone who bought a puppy there from some random people on the street and it was covered in fleas.  Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym, is famous, but it looks like it was cool back in the ‘80s.  Skip it.  – http://www.venicebeach.com

* Baseball:  I’m a Phillies fan and while Dodgers Stadium is one of the oldest still standing ballparks, if you don’t care about either team playing, skip it.  I refer to the stadium as having the caste system.  Most baseball stadiums allow you to walk without restrictions around all of the levels of the entire park, but at Dodgers stadium, unless you know the secret stairways, good luck moving to a lower level if you’ve purchased a cheap ticket.  In a cheap seat, celebrating a Phillies homerun, I was pelted by peanuts by the rude person behind me… nuff said?  It’s also hard to get to and in not the greatest area.  Opt instead to go to the beautiful Angels Stadium in Anaheim which even features a waterfall.  Before or after a game at Angels Stadium, grab a bite to eat at J.T. Schmid’s just walking distance from the park.  – http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.comhttp://losangeles.angels.mlb.com

* Disneyland:  Paradise that needs no explanation.  If you can make it to Anaheim, you’ve made it!  “It’s a Small World After All.”  Check out this link to save a few bucks when you go: http://gottogettickets.com.  You can thank me later!  http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland


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