Los Angeles for First-Timers

Until my second time in Los Angeles, I had thought that the city was hyped up.

LA was my first destination in the United States in 2012. I was pretty sure that the city wouldn’t impress me, and it didn’t. Because I was so busy with the “must-see” tourist attractions, I thought that LA was all about the artificial experiences.

My second visit showed me the opposite of everything I experienced during my first time. So, yes, LA is a beautiful destination with perpetual sunshine!

As I had the opportunity to explore the tourist areas and the real LA, in this post, I included my favourites from both sides.

Quick Facts

  • State: California
  • Population: 3,9 million
  • Nickname: L.A., City of Angels
  • Original Full Name: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula
  • NBA Teams: LA Lakers, LA Clippers

Hollywood Walk of Fame

With its stars, lights, impersonators, and energetic crowd, Hollywood never slows down. I cannot guarantee you will be able to see your favourite movie star IRL, but while walking on Hollywood Boulevard, you can find his/her star on Walk of Fame.

If you like souvenir shops, good news, you will find plenty of them here.

There are many options for dining, including Hard Rock Cafe. For original Japanese dishes, I recommend Cho Oishi Japanese Restaurant in Hollywood & Highland Center.

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Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive

The walk from The Beverly Hills Hotel to Beverly Gardens park, also called ‘Beverly Drive’, is full of luxury brands, sports cars, and famous people.

At first glance, Beverly Hills seems like a contest of fashion and luxury but you will start enjoying it a few minutes later, if you go with the flow.

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Las Brisas

Las Brisas Laguna Beach, which is approximately a 50-min drive from downtown LA, is a great Mexican restaurant with a fascinating view of Pacific Ocean. It is probably the best Mexican restaurant I’ve been to. Yes, it is that good.

Tips: Have dinner at Las Brisas around sunset time for the most beautiful views, and try their margarita.

Lakers Game at Staples Center

LA Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings was the first basketball game I watched in the US. If you’re a sports fan and you have never been to a basketball game in the US, you should definitely add one to your list.

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The Original Farmers Market

The Original Farmers Market is one of my favourite places to visit. It is like the Walk of Fame of Foodies. If you want to give Middle Eastern cuisine a try, you shouldn’t miss Moishe’s. I rarely eat Middle Eastern dishes while traveling, because, well, I live in Istanbul, Turkey, or the homeland of kebab. But I tried and loved this place. The menu covers a variety of kebabs and snacks, including falafel.

LA Chinatown

LA Chinatown is the 3rd most crowded Chinatown, after New York and San Francisco, in the United States. It has a population of approximately 66,000 Chinese-Americans*.

If you are a foodie trying to eat your way around LA Chinatown, I may have some useful tips for you.

If you don’t feel completely comfortable with Unidentified Sea Creatures swimming in your soup, do your research before arriving, because there is more than dumplings and sweet-and-sour shrimp here.

Be adventurous, exactly for the same reason. It is an opportunity to explore Chinese cuisine beyond international or chain restaurants.

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Long Beach

It takes 30 minutes to drive (outside of rush hour) from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. After walking down the pier and visiting Queen Mary, you can eat grilled fresh seafood at Parkers’ Lighthouse. For desserts, I can recommend chocolate-covered apples of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (below).

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Brent’s Deli

While you can choose from a wide array of melts and sandwiches, Pastrami Reuben is my all-time favourite.

The Northridge location of Brent’s is a 1-hour drive from Los Angeles.

Griffith Observatory

A place that is worth the hype. There are two popular options for getting there; by car and by hiking up – using West Griffith Observatory Trail.

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Malibu

1-hour from Los Angeles, Malibu is a great place to learn how to surf – or to watch the surfers.

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Third Street Promenade

Four blocks away from Santa Monica Beach, the Third Street Promenade is ideal for shopping in the afternoon and for dinner.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

World famous and full of life, Venice Beach is stunning in each season. Don’t forget to prepare your one dollars before coming, you will need them for the artist tips.

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