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What the Locals Do in Los Angeles
Hordes of tourists descend on Los Angeles each year with visions of seeing stars—of the Hollywood Boulevard and celebrity variety that is—but before you purchase that star map there are a few things you should know about how to live like a local.
For starters, never bat an eye when you encounter a movie star. Remember they are real people, too (albeit real people who live like royalty). Here are a few activities to help you fit in with the natives.
Bike the Strand
Despite urban myths that claim otherwise, Angelenos do abandon their cars every now and then—especially if it's to rent an old-school beach cruiser and bike down the 22-mi-long Strand, which stretches from Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica to Torrance County Beach in Redondo.
The Strand runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean through Santa Monica and Venice. Don't miss one-of-a-kind sights, including the oversize Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier, the greased up bodybuilders of Muscle Beach, and the roller dancers (think disco on roller skates) of Venice Beach. And if biking isn't your thing, there are plenty of roller-bladers and walkers as well.
It's no secret that the people of Los Angeles love their cars. In fact, they're famous for driving convertibles, scoffing at the idea of public transportation, and spending an inordinate amount of time on freeways.
But what the casual observer may not know is that Angelenos have another passion—for the local burger chain In-N-Out—that, thankfully, is perfectly car-friendly. Of course, Angelenos don't get out of their cars to make this magical moment happen. Easy directions: Drive up to an In-N-Out window, order from the secret menu (available online), and enjoy your "Animal Style" in the car.
Eat at the Farmers Market
At 3rd and Fairfax, the Farmers Market is pretty much Los Angeles' version of a community center. Everyone comes here to eat, drink and, most importantly, people-watch. Founded by a collective of farmers in 1934, the Farmers Market now houses more than 85 shops and restaurants—you can find everything from a Brazilian grill to a French creperie to a Lebanese kebab stand—in an open-air bazaar ringed by stalls and stands.
The Farmers Market and the adjacent shopping area, The Grove, are also low-key places to spot celebrities going about their everyday business.
Try a Taco Truck
It seems that everyone in Los Angeles has a taco truck that they swear by. Typically, these taco stands on wheels have a regular corner and semi-regular hours. The only way to find a good one is to ask a local—or do some research on a foodie Web site.
Not all taco trucks are created equal and it pays to know the specialty of the house—or truck, that is. A few things that most taco trucks share in common: tasty tacos, cheap prices, and a locals-only peek into L.A.'s hometown cuisine.
See a Show at the Hollywood Bowl
No doubt you've seen the iconic dome in movies, but nothing compares to spending a summer evening in a bleacher seat (or, better yet, one of the coveted boxes) at the Hollywood Bowl. To really get your local on, pack a picnic complete with bottle of wine and wicker basket and don't be afraid to share goodies with your neighbors.
Performances run the gamut from reggae night to rock concerts to Los Angeles Philharmonic performances. But as most Angelenos would agree, the experience is as much about sitting outside under the night sky as it is about the music.
Hike in Griffith Park
The park, extremely accessible from the city, offers a 53-mi network of trails, roads, and bridle paths. One of the most popular routes is up Mount Hollywood, which boasts panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin, the Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood Sign along the way.
Stop at a Seafood Shack
There may be nothing that epitomizes Los Angeles more than a drive down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, as locals call it. After taking in the sweeping views and turquoise waters, stop at a seafood shack, such as Malibu Seafood or the Reel Inn, for some ahi burgers or fish-and-chips.
Afterward, check out one of Malibu's most beautiful beaches: Topanga State Beach, Zuma Beach, or the small and secluded La Piedra, El Pescador, and El Matador beaches.
Go to a Dodger or Lakers Game—or Both
One way to blend in with the locals is to surround yourself with them—literally.
Get out to Dodger Stadium for a baseball game, and don't forget to dress in all blue and eat a Dodger Dog while you're there. Unless it's a big game, Dodger tickets are easy to come by—especially if you're willing to sit in the cheap bleacher seats. You can also spend a bit more to sit in one of the special sections such as the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion.
It's much harder to procure Lakers tickets when they play at Staples Center, but if you plan ahead, a Lakers game is a surefire way to see big celebrities and even bigger feats of aerodynamics.
Catch a Movie at the ArcLight
It would be an understatement to say that Angelenos take their movies seriously. Considering that the entertainment industry is many locals' bread and butter, it's no surprise that moviegoing ups the ante here, too. Look no further than the ArcLight in Hollywood for a signature L.A. moviegoing experience. The ArcLight has all the fixin's: stadium seating, gourmet food, and authentic costumes from films on display in the lobby.
But what sets the ArcLight above the rest is that each movie is introduced by a live announcer schooled in movie trivia. If you're super lucky, you might catch the directors as they frequently make appearances here to discuss their work.
If you want to really do it like a local, catch a flick in the middle of the day—remember, Angelenos have sunny days to burn.
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