With so much local stuff to do, why act like a tourist?
Tackling a visit to the Los Angeles area can be a daunting task for the average gal.That’s why I’m here to help! Although most people come to L. A. to bask not only in the sun, but also the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, I’ve learned the trick to having fun is not in the "who you can see," but in knowing "where to go for cheap" while you’re here.Everyone wants to go where the stars go when they come visit, but instead of trying to hit the "celeb spots," come with the intent of having fun (and not breaking the bank). My suggestion: Do it like the locals! With L. A. being one of the most expensive cities in the country you'll need some tips on how to have fun, without spending a fortune!
When I first moved to L. A. from Mississippi (I'm a Starkville girl), I was in extreme sticker shock.Since when did corn meal start running $6 a bag?! At first I figured high prices were just something I had to get used to, but then I learned I just didn’t know where to go!I’m here to save you the financial mishaps I went through in the beginning, my MyScoop sisters, by letting you in on a few insider secrets.Stick with me, and I’ll show you how to visit Los Angeles in style and on budget (and possibly even catch glimpse of a star or two).
Your Shopping Needs:
If you’re a woman (if you're reading this, you probably are), I know you love to shop for bargains!The best place to shop (and my little personal secret, which I am now exposing to the world) is Marshalls in Beverlywood.This is one of the best places to find name brand clothing items at bargain prices.Go straight to the clearance racks, and if you’re lucky, you can pick up some True Religion for $50, Lilly Putlizer for $20, or Jimmy Choo for $100 (yes, this is actually a real bargain).
Need to buy a few souvenirs? The Fashion District in downtown Los Angeles is the best place to score some designer knock-offs (ssssssh), and some other great deals on other great items at near wholesale prices.Avoid the weekends and holiday season though.This "District"is actually an alleyway in downtown and it can get pretty crowded during "peak times."
Just want to have a leisurely day of shopping?Hit the Beverly Center or 3rd Street Promenade, all within a few miles of each other.The Grove offers a great outdoor mall, with entertainment on the weekends, while the Beverly Center acts as your more upscale inside mall.
Not afraid to go second-hand (imagine a place where all of the rich people take last season's lightly-worn desiger clothes!)?Goodwill Industries have more upscale second-hand stores with ALL KINDS of name brand clothing.OUT of the CLOSET is also a popular choice for natives and transplants here.If you want a nice array of both used and new clothing at reasonable prices, hit up the Melrose strip and find lots of nice, high class thrift stores, as well as more fashionable boutique shops.
Want to go a little more upscale (minus the budget)?Visit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Of course, all MyScoop readers have to go to Beverly Hills at least once to say you’ve been there, right?
Where to Eat (my personal favorites):
Okay, so as historical as Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles is, it has nothing on Mississippi fried chicken, so go at your own risk.There are a lot of "knock-off" Mississippi food places that cater to your need for Southern comfort foods, butI say stay clear and visit something outside the ordinary so as not to set yourself up for disappointment. Los Angeles is a melting pot, and that gives you an opportunity to branch out and try some cuisines from all over the world.My top four suggestions are my own personal favorites.Not only will you find great food, but I’ve been known to spot a celebrity or two at these "underground and under-the radar locations."
Bosa Nova (cross streets Sunset Blvd & La Brea Ave) -- This little brazilian resturant is one of the most inexpensive, yet best tasting place to eat for the money.You can’t go wrong with any of their pizzas, but my personal favorite is their "traditional"grilled chicken breast with black beans, rice, and plantains.It’s a MUST TRY and the best thing is, this little joint stays open most nights until 4AM!
Katsuya (Encino & Sherman Oaks locations -- go to one of these because the menu at the others are not the same and a little more pricey) – If you’re in the mood for sushi(actually, even if you’re not) this top little sushi spot is one of Los Angeles’ well-kept secrets and another MUST TRY!Listen, I know not everyone likes sushi, but this ain’t your typical sushi spot!Both spots are usually open from 11-2 for lunch and 5-10 for dinner but try to get there before seven to avoid a crowd and long wait.Once inside, stick to the house specials, which have their most popular dishes listed right in front of youBe careful though, with sushi this good, you’re bound to run upa tab pretty quickly! (sushi run about $8-12 per plate and a couple usually eats about 6 different dishes together).
Pink's (la Bea & 3rd St) – The line to this place is LONG on the weekends, so I suggest making it a lunch choice.Here, you’ll find all of the best add-ons for a hot dog or hamburger.Most people go just to say that they’ve been, although they propose to have the greatest hot dogs. I say, "just go, and judge for yourself."
King Taco (multiple locations) -- Not in the mood for a sit down dinner? King taco is your best bet.How can you visit L. A. without having some good Mexican food?!Prices are reasonable and the Carne Asada dishes are all the rave.Be careful though, although this place is open until 2 most nights (4 am on the weekends), they are still known to have lines out the door during peak hours!Well worth the wait though. **Word of caution** -- Go with verde sauce, not the red sauce if you want to feel your tongue the next day.
Oops!I couldn’t forget about a healthy dessert – do either Cefiore or Pinkberry yogurt (multiple locations). Plain or with toppings. You can’t go wrong with frozen yogurt.
For Good Times:
Go to the beach. Visit the Santa Monica Pier or Venice Beach.You can bike ride, roller skate, or just walk in the sand.On the Pier, there are also several rides, if you want to make it a carnival-like fun day at the beach.
Enjoy the night life. There are lots of things to do in L. A. at night.... It is, afterall, L. A.!Here are a few suggestions:
GRAB A CONCERT: Check into what’s playing at the Hollywood Bowl before your trip out.Los Angeles draws a lot of major talent, so why miss out on your favorite band if they’ll be here while you’re here?
CHECK OUT A FILM FESTIVAL: Buy the L. A. Times and see if there are any film festivals going on. Believe it or not, UCLA has lots of events open to the general public. Check out their website to see what’s going on the weekend of your visit.I purchased tickets to watch a play at UCLA’s play house and wound up sitting right next to Charlize Theoron!AFI has a short film festival a couple times a year as well.
GRAB A MOVIE: Okay, I know you can probably do this anywhere, but you can’t watch a movie at ArcLight Cinemas anywhere but in California. Maybe I’m partial to this place because I used to work here, but I’ve seen just about EVERY celebrity you can think of here!Not to say, you will too, but a lot of stars like to catch movies here. I watched Quentin Tarentino spy on the audience of his latest film, rode up an elevator alone with the late James Brown, and nearly fainted when I ran into Denzel Washington (he is just as cute in person).Now, I’m not saying they are here all the time, but I’ve seen more than my share of famous people at this one spot alone so it’s always worth a shot! If potential star sighting is not your forte, go anyway for the experience. This historical landmark offers an experience in movie watching unlike any other.Even if you don’t pass Denzel on your way to that romantic comedy, you can still bask in knowing that you’re being treated like a celebrity at this theater that reserves your seat (I recommend anywhere in the middle of rows M through S), and have you personally escorted to your seats by the ushers.I will admit, it can be a bit pricey at $14 a ticket on the weekends, but if you go during the weekday, you only pay $11.
Well, I think you’ve got enough to get started!Just remember, skip the tourist attractions (they’re a waste of money), and bring LOTS of money for parking. If you chose street parking or meters, read the signs.There is an L.A. traffic cop on every corner of the city looking to get rich off of your ignorance, so be on top of it.Other than that, make sure to let your hair down and have fun!