Los Angeles has been home to me for 15 years. The city is so big and sprawling that sometimes I think it has taken at least 10 years to feel at home. I still have conversations with people who live in neighborhoods I have only heard of on a Westside Rentals search or in commercials (Gardena? Where exactly is that?). Since starting the scavenger hunt business, I've been able to explore so many neighborhoods and corners of the city.
It is what I love and hate about L.A. It is a never-ending exploration, but because of this I never feel like, "OK, I got this." This is why I love when my relatives come into town. I get to become a tourist and selfishly take them places that I have never been or will only go when someone else is in town.
Here is a list of my Top 10 Tourist ideas in the city.
#1) Boat Cruise Marina Del Rey: I know you don't hang out in the marina often, but it's a perfect choice when people are in town. If your visitors don't like walking on lots and lots of sand to get to the water, hop on a boat and go directly on the water! In the summer, you can catch $1 boat taxis across the marina. Better yet, spend a weekend morning buffet brunch out on the water with the Hornblower Brunch Cruise. We recently went and had a blast!
#2) The Grammy Museum+ Happy Hour Drink from a Downtown L.A. Rooftop: The L.A. Live area has really livened up the previously dead zone where Staples Center is. There are plenty of great restaurants, a movie theater, and concert/sport venues. The Grammy Museum is a hidden gem in this area. It's 3 levels of interactive music exhibits--Frank Sinatra is opening soon! We got a drink at WP 24 at the nearby Ritz Carlton. Great views of the city!
#3) Starline Tours: Yes, it's cheesy! Yes, you are too cool for a tour bus! But humor me here. Driving around Los Angeles is such a pain--especially when you're sightseeing. You're trying to focus on making a left turn while also pointing out Paramount Studios or Sunset Blvd and thinking about where you're going to find your next parking spot. Join your tourists on this tour bus, and you can finally relax, probably laugh & definitely learn something about the city.
#4) Presidential Libraries: Not a Reagan fan? Or a Nixon fan? No worries! Hopefully you're a fan of history! Driving out to Simi Valley, you will get out of the city and into some beautiful countryside. The Reagan Library also houses the old Air Force One, where you can marvel at an old Xerox machine the President had in his fancy plane. The Nixon Library is at the location of his actual childhood home, which you can tour.
#5) Annenburg Community Beach House: Santa Monica is one of the most crowded beaches around and parking is a pain. Make reservations at this community beach house, though, and avoid all the hassle and crowds. The pool is beautiful, and the pool house provides you with clean restrooms and even a game room--ping pong, anyone? They have a restaurant onsite and beach access, so you can really spend a good portion of the day enjoying the beach in style.
#6) The Broad Museum: There are tons of museums I would recommend (LACMA, The Getty, MOCA, etc), but if you're not "museum people" and can only handle one per trip--at least make a trip out to L.A.'s brand new contemporary art museum! The Broad is also free, which never hurts.
#7) Catch a film: L.A. has every movie that's out playing at any given time, not to mention a host of weird, funny, eclectic films playing at the smaller art-house hipster places. Go all out at one of the "dine in" theaters, or check out what's happening at my personal favorite, Cinefamily.
#8) Hollywood Bowl: If you're lucky enough to visit in the Summer/Fall, you should definitely make your way out to the Bowl for a one-of-a-kind L.A. experience. Bring food, drink & spend an evening--my favorites are the shows with fireworks (epic!), but I've never seen a bad show here.
#9) Decadent Desserts: Being a tourist is a good excuse for getting some crazy bad-for-you food you reserve for special occasions. I recommend Coolhaus in Culver City for the most amazing, huge, yummy ice-cream sandwiches you've ever tasted.
#10) Space Shuttles!: How can you pass this up? Head to California Science Center (free general admission) for an up close view of The Endeavour. They have an IMAX here, too, and later this month Journey to Space opens, which will show us what they're doing to get us all up to Mars (or at least some astronauts). Oh, and grab some lunch, walk out the back doors of the Science Center and eat at the beautiful Exposition Park Rose Garden--quite an escape from the craziness of the city.
In the future, Entertaining Adventure will be developing special tourist-only scavenger hunts, taking those new to L.A. (or those that feel the need to explore) on hunts focusing on the best the city has to offer, while attempting to avoid bumper to bumper traffic!