A Family-Friendly Guide to Visiting LA Like a Local (Part 2)

June 15, 2019

The second in our two-part series about a sun-filled family getaway to Los Angeles, today we continue with two more itineraries that don’t involve star maps. Now that you’re familiar with where to go in DTLA, Hollywood and its surrounding neighborhoods, we’re heading west.

Coastal LA

Getty Villa

Getty Villa, Photo by Pel

Begin your morning at The Getty museum, which offers free admission, art and artifacts, lush gardens and spectacular city views. Hold on to your parking pass because you can bring it with you and use it at the Getty Villa in Malibu, where you’ll plunge into ancient Greece and Rome by touring the palatial estate modeled after Villa of the Papyri and explore a vast collection of antiquities. Though it’s also free you do need to make an online reservation in advance. From there, take the Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH) down toward Venice and stop at Gjusta to indulge in fresh-baked bread, crisp salads, decadent sandwiches and other upscale deli favorites. Eat there, or pack a picnic to take with you.

Next, drive to Marina del Rey where you can rent a bike and ride along the nearby beaches, or rent a kayak or standup paddleboard to row alongside seals and gorgeous docked yachts. Try renting a bike on a weekday when there’s less foot traffic and the paths are less crowded in general.

After you’ve gotten your exercise fix, drive to Manhattan Beach and take a peek at the cute boutiques, unwind on the sand or grab some dinner. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Manhattan Beach Creamery, where you’ll find candy, ice cream, cookies and plenty of other dessert options.

If you have free time, take a drive down the coast through Palos Verdes. It’s breathtaking!

Catalina Island

Catalina Island, Photo by Pel

Weekend Pick: Just off the coast of mainland California, Catalina Island makes a wonderful weekend getaway or day trip complete with idyllic blue waters, scenic boat tours, dolphin sightings and more. Start by booking a ticket on the Catalina Express ferry from Long Beach or San Pedro to Avalon. Traverse the island on foot, by renting a golf cart or bike, or taking an Eco Tour. If you’re interested in architecture or history, be sure to schedule a Casino tour in advance. Despite the name, the Catalina Casino is not for gambling but rather a gathering place and dance hall built in 1929. Elevate your adventure by taking the ferry to Two Harbors, the more desolate side of the island, where you can rent mountain bikes or kayaks, lounge by the water or go for a swim.

LA Foodie Treks

In-N-Out Sign

Photo by Pel

If you’re not already familiar with the late LA restaurant critic Jonathan Gold who, sadly, passed away in the summer of 2018, his Pulitzer-winning food column is the perfect place to start getting a feel for the cultural mosaic that makes up the LA food scene. The City of Gold documentary about him will also give you a realistic perspective of the city, far beyond the celebrities and Santa Monica Pier.

We suggest creating your own foodie journey by checking out areas like Thai Town and Koreatown for their respective cuisines, the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese food, Tehrangeles for Persian, getting your Japanese fix in Torrance, Mexican in Boyle Heights and always keep your eye out for a taco truck or fruit cart that serves fresh fruit topped with salted chili powder and citrus.

Sink your teeth into some of the most popular menu items in LA—foods like tlayuda (“Oaxacan pizza”), breakfast burritos, homemade tortillas, al pastor (marinated pork), bacon-wrapped hot dogs, French Dip, chicken and waffles, Korean BBQ, donuts, Persian ice cream and of course a Double-Double Animal Style burger from In-N-Out. Head to Eat the World LA and LA Taco for more guidance on creating your own locals-approved palette-pleasing itinerary.

Sriracha Factory

Sriracha Factory, Photo by Pel

Oh, and if you’re a sriracha fan, don’t forget to schedule a free factory tour at Hoy-Fong Foods. It’s really a treat to see!

Weekend Pick: Join locals at Guelaguetza on the weekends for a festive Oaxacan lunch accompanied by live music.

Like New York, LA is a huge city rich with culture, diversity, award-winning restaurants and endless magic. Though it might take a few trips for you to fully understand the rhythm and vibe of LA, you’re sure to appreciate it more by experiencing it from a local lens.

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