Hits and Misses: A Tourist's Perspective on Los Angeles after 30 days here
My perspective as a tourist could potentially provide locals or other tourists with fun activities or save them time and money.
July 22, 2019
As a tourist, I see California in a different light than as someone who's from here. For instance, the concept of the greater Los Angeles area is a bit peculiar to me because I see each place in LA as a completely different city with really no similarities. To me, Santa Monica is completely different from Malibu which is completely different from Venice which is the opposite of Beverly Hills.
But, in my time here, I've realized that my perspective as a tourist could potentially provide locals or other tourists with fun activities or save them time and money. So, I compiled a list of the places I've visited and activities I've done. They will be listed below under yes, no, and maybe.
Santa Monica Pier is an obvious yes, especially at night. There is something particularly beautiful seeing the reflection of the lights in the dark water but, it can be hot and draining during the day. The Pier is always busy so it can be tough to just walk around and there can be crowds of tourists at times. But, the Pier is fun. The energy of everyone is contagious which produces a feel-good feeling even if it's stuffy.
3rd Street Promenade is another obvious choice, particularly for those who live in Santa Monica. There's live music most of the time which makes it even more fun to walk around and float in and out of shops. An added bonus to the nice stores and appealing restaurants is that it's not too busy so you never really get uncomfortable.
In and Out is the iconic burger chain that's California born so clearly I had to test it out. I loved it and while I know most everyone has tried it, if you haven't, you should. In and Out is quite tasty and since it's fast food it's very affordable. The only downside is since the food is yummy, the locations are always packed so it's hard to find a table.
Venice is interesting because it's clearly a necessary spot to visit, but I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it. While it's fun to see the shops along the boardwalk, it seems a little scruffy. It's crowded and busy and at times it seems a little disheveled. That being said, local artists set up stations for their artwork which is really nice to walk by and examine. Also, going into town is nice since there are good restaurants and cute shops.
Muscle Beach is a yes but only for 15 minutes or so during a walk along the beach. Personally, I find it really great to watch on the weekends. People are very talented and will shock you with what they can do. In particular, keep an eye out for people swinging by their arms- it's enchanting.
Use of a motorized scooter: please try this. Motorized scooters are my new favorite form of transportation. I was concerned about the safety of it at first but I've found that it's really safe as users can be in the bike lane and cars are good at keeping an eye out for riders. The only downside is if you don't know where you're going it can be hard, since you have to stop and check your phone for directions.
Hollywood Boulevard is the only no on the list. I found that it is really just dirty and there's not really anything to do. You can just walk up and down the boulevard to see the stars on the ground. It can be cool to spot someone's star that you admire but does it beat being harassed for bus tours? No, I really don't feel that it's worth it.
Rodeo Drive is fun to walk around and grab coffee and it's nice to see what Beverly Hills actually is. But, Rodeo is very busy and completely filled with tourists. There is not much to do besides shop so if visitors want to experience Beverly Hills, I recommend it, but I think it's important to note that the main event is shopping.
Santa Barbara is another maybe. I think it's interesting to taste another part of California, but it is an hour and a half drive from Santa Monica. Worth it? I'm not sure. The downtown is quaint but very, very quiet. The marina, though, is absolutely beautiful and it's really nice to walk on the pier. While the drive from Santa Monica is long, Santa Barbara is beautiful and very enjoyable if you want a calm trip.
I hope this list provided a bit of insight as to what each of these are and that it can make your excursion choices a little easier.