You did it. After years of secretly and not so secretly dreaming, you finally pushed aside the worry, fear, and logistical concern, and took the plunge: You moved to LA.
Because why not? Carpe diem right? You only live once, and if you didn’t go for it, you could have spent the rest of your life wondering ‘What if’? And that’s just not you. You’re awesome and curious and open to the new. You don’t just move places. You immerse yourself in them…
Which is why your first few months in LA have been so eventful, why you’ve met so many people and already have such a strong feel for the city. Because you’ve done it all really, and if you haven’t, well, you’re in the process of doing it…
So why is there this weird feeling at the back of your mind, like you’re missing something? You wake up one day with an epiphany: There is something you haven’t done since you got here- You haven’t walked anywhere!
Wait, that can’t be possible, can it? There was that time you hiked to In n’ Out from your apartment! You know, like three weeks ago when you said you ‘wanted some exercise’?
Well I hate to break it to you, that doesn’t count! But guess what? It’s not your fault. There is a pervasive myth that hangs over our fair city like smog (smog, unfortunately is not a myth, but you’ll get used to it): The myth that doing anything in LA requires a car, and that those going about their days on foot are either crazy or deluded or both.
Ok, first thing’s, first – to be fair, for living and working in LA, sure, you should probably have a car. But for a day or night out on the town, to get out there and do something, all you need are your two feet and a healthy thirst for exploration.
Sound like you? Take a look at a few of the suggested days out for the neighborhoods below:
Los Feliz/Griffith Park
We’re going to start off with possibly the most ambitious entry to this list, ambitious in that it not only involves walking, but walking UP HILL. I know, crazy, right? Hear me out though- The Los Feliz neighborhood boasts the distinction of not only being one of the most charming areas in LA, but also of being within walking distance of Griffith Park!
Your time would be best spent strolling up Vermont, grabbing a bite at one of the several outdoor restaurants and cafes, and popping in to Skylight Books for some inspirational browsing before starting your hike. After your mind and body are both properly nourished, continue heading up Vermont, passing Los Feliz and The Greek theater. You’ll soon arrive at the park, where you’ll have your choice of gorgeous trails, views of the Hollywood sign, or, for the exceptionally rigorous walker, a trek to world famous Griffith Observatory, where a myriad of fascinating scientific exhibitions awaits!
Bonus: After you come down from the mountain, take in a flick at the Vista theater, one of LA’s oldest movie theater. Make sure to check out the handprints in the cement outside, featuring prominent independent film icons like Spike Jonze and John C. Reilly!
More than just a hub for the vinyl and taco-truck gentrification set that its reputation might suggest, Echo Park is fast becoming the nicest spot in LA to spend a sunny summer afternoon or night. Much of that owes to scenic Echo Park Lake, where one could either stroll or take a paddle boat ride (rentals are in about the $10 range), or grab an espresso and sandwich at the boathouse.
After this head to Sunset to browse the awesome selection of vintage shops and boutiques before heading East towards Dodger Stadium or to grab a taco from local-favorite Guisados. Cap the night off with drinks and a show at the Echoplex. The iconic venue features everything from super-hip indie shows, to un-advertised Rolling Stones gigs, to wild dub and reggae dance parties!
Occasionally a little touristy at certain seasons, Venice Beach is still easily one of the most walkable neighborhoods in LA, and an enduringly fascinating area for people watching. Start with an ocean front walk on the boardwalk, where on any given day you might see live music, rollerskating musclemen, or impromptu break-dancing shows!
Once you’ve gorged yourself on chili cheese fries and salt water taffy, move inland and get lost in the historic Venice canals. These canals were designed by eccentric entrepreneur Abbott Kinney, who won the land for them in a coin toss!
And speaking of Abbott Kinney, end your day with dinner and shopping on Abbott Kinney Boulevard, home to dozens of high-end restaurants and boutiques, and a must-know neighborhood for those new to the west side!
More under the radar but nonetheless a great area to take in a lot on foot, the Fairfax and La Brea area is quickly gaining in stature amongst fashion enthusiasts of both the streetwear and high end persuasion. In just one afternoon you can scratch your retail at The Grove, grab a healthy bite to eat at Farmer’s Market plaza, and check out the latest in rare sneakers and designer wear up and down Fairfax and Melrose.
For me personally though, the real gem of this area is the Cinefamily Silent Movie Theater, a single screen film co-op that boasts some of the best repertory film programming in the world. I’m not kidding, their reputation is outstanding and with the selection they have on any given day, it’s not hard to see why they’ve got something for everyone!
End the day with a trip to Canter’s deli, an absolute LA institution that is like stepping into another time (seriously, they still an old-fashioned cash register from the 20s and calculate change in their heads as they go)!
… And I could go on and on, but I think you’re starting to get my point. LA is an amazing, exciting city. There’s a million things going on at once, everyone knows that, but one thing not everyone thinks about is the fact that there’s also a lot different paths you could take to get to them. Bear this in mind as you explore your new playground, because sometimes if you want unpredictable results, you need to take the less obvious path.