Eyerollers. Relatives who refuse to come visit. New Yorkers who think their city is the only one in the US worth visiting. Beantown natives who believe Boston is the Hub of the universe. Even our cousins up north, who claim San Francisco cornered the market on California cuisine, culture and scenic beauty. Visitors who moan that Los Angeles is all strip malls & tourists, Valley girls & surfer boys, stewing in a smoggy, cultural wasteland. We’ve all had to put up with these woefully misinformed maligners. This holiday season we want to gift you with our top places to take the naysayers. These spots, tips and reasons that will have your anti-LA visiting kin singing along with Randy and booking their return tickets ASAP.
Calling us a cultural wasteland? Well, that just shows your ignorance. Los Angeles is home to some of the biggest stars in the world from fields as diverse as Opera, Architecture, Fashion and Sports. What other city boasts Placido, Puig and Perse?
Music – LA Phil is housed in Geary’s architectural masterpiece that just turned 10, and when Salonen passed the baton to Dudamel, we went from one international star to another. LA Opera has become a world class institution under the stewardship of none other than Placido Domingo. The Hollywood Bowl has hosted everyone from the Beatles to the Vampire Weekend. Oh, The Phil, the Opera and the Bowl all have fantastic kids programs, too.
Museums – Did you know you can visit a museum every week of the year with no repeats? From the glories of the Getty (either of them!) to only-in-LA Endeavour at the Science Center, we’ve got it all. (Our top 5 for visitors are: The Getty Villa, LACMA, The Science Center, The Natural History Museum and the Norton Simon.)
Sports – So, the Dodgers, Lakers and Kings have all made championship runs in the last few years. Not to mention the Galaxy, gymnastics meets where your kids can see the next Olympic stars, and watch swimmers train at the Rose Bowl (where do you think Diana Nyad perfected her crawl?).
Theater – Want to see movie stars in Broadway tryouts? Super shows for kids? From 99 seat gems for grownups to Saturday shows for kids to Broadway spectacles, Los Angeles is a great theatre town. We’ve got a ballet company too, which helps when you want to see a professional production of the Nutcracker with family this holiday season!
Fashion – We don’t mean shopping on Rodeo, that is for tourists. We mean honest fashion coming out of Los Angeles. Trina Turk, Cynthia Vincent, James Perse, Rodarte, Claire Vivier & J Brand are just a few labels that are LA born, bred and based.
Mountains, desert, oceans – we’ve got everything. No really – everything:
Mountains – Hiking couldn’t be more beautiful than in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains, where you can hike through lava lakes to gushing waterfalls and then go up for stunning ocean vistas. Unless perhaps you visit the snow capped San Gabriel Mountains, where you can encounter wildlife and feel the season change as you rise in elevation.
Oceans – This is where we own up to having a surf culture. We have miles upon miles of beaches, and they range from the canals in Venice, to sunbathing beaches in the South Bay to tide pools, bird lagoons and wild stretches of cliff side beaches as you move north.
Gardens – Yes, the desert has gardens, and some pretty spectacular ones. These 5 are all perfect for the whole family, and are guaranteed to knock a visitor’s socks off: The Huntington, Descanso Gardens, The Arboretum, the gardens at the Lake Shrine Temple and The Japanese Garden.
Desert – Sure, you have to leave the city to get to the real desert, but an hour or two takes you to distant, far away places. It’s spectacular, otherworldly scenery – and you can be home for dinner.
Sunsets – Smog? Here’s a secret, it makes the sunsets prettier! Watch the sunset from the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier and tell us there’s a more beautiful sight.
Movie Stars, Glitz and Glam
Ok, make fun of us for having movie stars. But being movie star adjacent brings plenty o’ perks. Like:
Oscars – Yep ,you can walk that very red carpet any time of year. Bring family to the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland and they can stroll the same carpet as Brad and Angelina. And see if you can put your hands in Marilyn’s prints in front of the Chinese Theater without getting a chill.
Disneyland/Universal/Studio Tours & Tourist Traps – They laugh, yet they love. And we get to go all the time. We’ve yet to meet the person who doesn’t end up having fun at Disneyland – especially with adorable tots in tow, grinning up at them.
Visit the Locations – Want to see the Brady Bunch house? The Pretty Woman hotel? The Die Hard building? The Batman caves? Take your too-cool-for-LA loved one to the spot of their secret obsession and snap a few pictures of their giddy grins.
See the Stars – Yeah, they’re pretty much everywhere. You see, they live here. So we run into them at the Farmer’s Market, at Whole Foods, at school drop-off, at Starbucks. Even for the jaded, star sightings are a kick. Out of town visitors often get apoplectic.
We’re running out of room to rhapsodize about the cuisine here. Suffice it to say that we are no longer a town of (just) burgers and back yard grilling. From high end to street food, we’ve got it all. In a city where you can breakfast on custom designed donuts, lunch at a food truck, and dine at a Puck emporium, what’s not to love? You can nosh on food across the Globe (and make your own at home, too, after shopping at our amazing global markets) and turn up more than one celeb-chef haunt where you can bring the kids. This city gave birth to the Kogi taco craze and the restaurant pop-up in just the last few years. We raise foodies in LA, so bring the relatives to your favorite sushi joint and impress them with both the cuisine, and on hearing your kids ordering in Japanese. You can’t get food like this anywhere else on earth, we guarantee.
What do you love most about LA? And do you have any of those loco loved ones who insist on resisting the lure of Los Angeles?
Photo credits: Todd Jones Photography via Creative Commons, pedrosz via Creative Commons, The Consortium via flickr, oubliette! via Creative Commons, jawsnap.photo via flickr, inkknife2000 via Creative Commons, walkinguphills via flickr, catmca via Creative Commons, horrortaxi via flickr and Arnold Inuyaki via Creative Commons.