By sharing my favorite places to explore, meet others and getting work done in places I’ve lived and traveled, I’m hoping to stay connected with friends and colleagues and to get some good tips in return. My favorite spots are here in one place for easy reference. Let me know if you check out a place I’ve posted or have your own recommendations.
Despite the sheer number of people I have met who tell me they have done Los Angeles and are done with it, I still believe that LA has a place for everyone to fall in love with. It’s a huge melting pot with lots of hidden neighborhoods and niches to discover like Boyle Heights’ murals and Alhambra’s Taiwanese community. I wish I could send all the people who complain LA is too full of superficial Hollywood types to spend a day on the Olive Walk at Caltech or at least to Caltech Professor Kim Border’s I Love LA webpage. Me, whenever I can, I like to stay somewhere with a kitchen to take advantage of all the area’s great farmer’s markets. If you want to make it out to beach on a weekend, I recommend stopping at the nearby Pacific Palisades market and the adjacent Maison Giraud for brunch and pastries. It’s my favorite farmer’s market in the region with lots of picnic-worthy snacks and things to taste even if you don’t have a kitchen. A close second are the Malibu and Santa Monica markets. Each is perfect for combining with a hike in the hills, a bike or run on the beach, a stroll through Abbott Kinney or Sunday open houses, and dinner at Venice’s Djelina (farm-to-table) or Topanga Canyon’s Inn at Seventh Ray (if Alice stepped into a new age fairy tale on the site of a former junk yard).
A Day Near the Beach
AirBnB for affordable views of the ocean and city. During one AirBnB stay, I realized I was staying at a movie star’s home in Santa Monica. During another, I got to catch up with my college roommate and her husband over brunch with views of the ocean from the Hollywood Hills. Unless you’re booking at the last minute, it often beats staying at a hotel.
LA Times’ Farmers Markets Project has an interactive map that makes it easy to find markets near you that are open on a particular day. Each one I’ve been to has been terrific.
Santa Monica farmers market
Palisades farmers markets
Malibu farmers market
Redfin’s app (It lets you price the nearest home for sale in two taps and locate nearby open houses. As an economist who has studied housing trends, I find this both educational about the local economy and hard to resist.)
Inn of the Seventh Ray
Intelligentsia Coffee (on Abbott Kinney, also with locations in Silver Lake and Pasadena)
French Market Cafe on Abbott Kinney
Urth Caffe (in Santa Monica, but with locations in Pasadena and Melrose too)
Montana Avenue, Malibu Country Mart, Rose Avenue Bakery, Superba
Getty Museum (supermodern yet modeled after the Alhambra, with limestone bricks that make music making up the buildings)
Mashti Malone’s (Ice cream in Persian and non-Persian flavors)
Alhambra (Taiwanese community with some of the best food of its kind)
HD Buttercup (Huge design emporium — a little like LA’s version of NYC’s ABC Carpet & Home but more affordable)
Places to Study:
Caltech’s Red Door Cafe (when the weather is nice, which is most of the time, you can sit outside and take advantage of free guest wifi on campus, even if the cafe itself is closed.)
Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum (if you don’t need an outlet for a laptop)
Equator Coffee in Old Town Pasadena
LA Public Library (grand building downtown with lots of events and interesting spaces)