Los Angeles is a constellation of neighborhoods with distinct personalities. It varies from casual and beachy to awards-ceremony-fancy. Spanish and Mexican influences linger in the aesthetic despite development, relative to the rest of the world. A sense of the vaguely familiar may tug at you; be it a gritty strip mall or a grand house in the hills, you’ve probably seen it in a movie.
When to Go
Winter and fall are the best times to go. Summer (June to August) isn’t bad, but you risk temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or overcast skies near the ocean, aka “May Gray,” “June Gloom,” and “No Sky July.” September has been hot in recent years, with sudden heat spikes over 100. Be sure to check the weather of the neighborhood you’re visiting in advance—a trip across town can yield a temperature drop or rise of up to 20 degrees, and nights can be surprisingly chilly.
Time your visit to one of L.A.’s many events, such as the Echo Park Lotus Festival, an annual festival timed to lotus season (usually July); CicLAvia, which closes streets, turning high-traffic areas into public parks for a day; and nearby Laguna Beach’s Pageant of the Masters, an annual live re-enactment of works of art.
What to Eat
Korean tacos are the marriage of two dominant food cultures in L.A., and a nod to the large Mexican population that works and lives in Koreatown. Find a truck that serves up kimchee and grilled Korean meats in a tortilla and then ponder why no one had thought of it earlier. If you have room, stop by a cart that serves chopped fruit salad with Tajín, a Mexican chili seasoning, salt, and lime. They’re often found in bank parking lots throughout the city.
Souvenir to Take Home
Stop by one of the city’s many farmers market and pick up some avocados (try the Reed, Pinkerton, or Bacon varieties), or purchase a cookbook from one of L.A.’s world-class restaurants.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Believe it or not, L.A. has public transportation. The Metro bus and light rail system isn’t perfect, but it’s upped its game in recent years and can take you from downtown to Santa Monica in 40 minutes. If that doesn’t work, try a ridesharing service’s carpool option, like Lyft Line.
The “Urban Light” installation fronting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been dominating social media since it was installed in 2008. Local artist Chris Burden referred to his formation of 202 vintage lampposts as “a pathway to enlightenment.”