Los Angeles: Things to do

Corey Carter
Near the beaten track Los Angeles (Photo: Thinkstock)
Near the beaten track Los Angeles (Photo: Thinkstock)
"Abbott Kinney is the true local Venice experience. Filled with hipster boutiques, great restaurants and a fun bar scene."
Corey Carter

Cinespia movies at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

What's the best summer dinner and a movie experience in LA? Head to Cinespia movies at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with your loved one, friend, acquaintance, or lonely self. Starting in May, each Saturday you can bring your picnic basket filled with your favourite booze and goodies (Hit a local Trader Joe's for yummy stuff). A DJ spins discs pre- and post-screening, turning an outdoor movie viewing into a full blown awesome experience.

Last summer, I caught To Catch a Thief with some friends for a perfect summer night. Be sure to arrive when the gates open and bring a blanket for a good cuddle should you have a date, or to keep yourself warm should you be solo. Parking is US$5.

Hollywood Bowl

Even though the Bowl, as locals call it, is continuously voted the best major outdoor venue in the States, many times visitors miss out on the experience of seeing a show. Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan of the given night’s line-up, the Hollywood Bowl is an L.A. experience not to be missed. You can bring your own food and wine for a picnic under the stars (Hit a local Trader Joe’s for cheese plates and cheap wine). Concerts vary from The Chemical Brothers to a Tchaikovsky Spectacular with fireworks, but if you are in L.A. for a few days you are bound to catch a great show.

Abbott Kinney, Venice

Everybody knows about Venice Beach, home of Muscle Beach, endless bohemian sideshow personalities, and kiosks selling kitschy crap you will probably regret purchasing. But nearby Abbott Kinney is the true local Venice experience. Filled with hipster boutiques, great restaurants and a fun bar scene, Abbott Kinney is the surf and skate-inspired LA. My favourites are Gjelina for food (need a rezo), The Other Room for drinks, and Aviator Nation for some great surf-inspired hoodies. There are also good homeware stores, trendy designer shops and salons, and many art galleries. If you happen to be in town the first Friday of the month, the stores stay open late, galleries offer free drinks, and Abbott Kinney becomes home to the elusive food truck ... find the grilled-cheese (cheese toasty) and you can thank me later.

South Bay

The South Bay is a term that refers to Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Unless you have a friend living in these areas, you might miss these real-life examples of Southern California living. They are laid-back, casual beach communities with much to explore. Manhattan Beach is the home of the famous six-man beach volleyball tournament.

Stop by Uncle Bill's Pancake House for breakfast — the Mitch's scramble and the chocolate-chip strawberry pancakes are both delicious. Hennessey's Tavern is a divey pub with a rooftop view on the Hermosa Pier. For a blast from the past, check out the 90210 beach house on the Strand for fond memories of Kelly, Donna and David.

Long Beach Aquarium

You may not normally brave the 405 freeway to Long Beach, but for Planet Earth nerds like me, be sure to check out the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. The aquarium is divided into habitats where you can learn about Pacific Ocean ecosystems, giving you a sense of what lives in our waters. There are outdoor open tanks where you can touch sharks and rays. Next to the shark lagoon, check out the Lorikeet forest, where you can hand feed the birds. Make sure to get there early before it gets too crowded.

Got any more places to recommend? Have your say using the comments form, below.

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User comments
Huntington Library, a private residence in its previous life, is set in spacious grounds that feature several kinds of spectacular gardens, including a succulent as well as a beautiful and restful Chinese garden, among others. The building is outstanding in itself, with numerous architectural features, the conservatory and its plants and the focal points of sculptures throughout the property. Well worth the trip to get there.
If you are looking for some great places to eat in LA, you cant go past C&O's Trattoria at Venice Beach. With genuine Italian food and a fun, family friendly atmosphere, C&O's is definitely worth a dinner visit. If you're looking for a wholesome, tasty lunch or breakfast, head to Sloopy's at Manhattan Beach. This place does the best sandwich in the area and their outdoors garden setting is really peaceful, and a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the city!
Located a few lassoos opposite LA Zoo. This covers the real old west and cowboy movie history. The most amazing artefact, apart from Hoppy's hat and The Lone Ranger & Tontos costume, was a glass-cased cylinder (pre-records) juke box. Public transport available, but allow some hours if coming from Santa Monica. An informative day out and entertaining. Food available including real buffalo burgers.