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gigib Dec 2nd, 2003 11:49 AM

Do You Like Los Angeles?
Just curious. As a native Angeleno, daughter of a native, I often wonder what tourists think of our city, and if anyone ever visits anything other than Hollywood/Rodeo Drive/Santa Monica. I grew up in Brentwood, now live in Topanga, can't stand the Westside any more, too trendy/expensive. Do you have a nice experience here? What do you visit? Impressions?

k_999_9 Dec 2nd, 2003 11:55 AM

I am NOT trying to start an argument, but LA is one of my least-favorite cities.

I could give you lots of reasons why, but maybe an example would help.

Once, when I was there, a friend who's a resident offered to take me somewhere "different," and I suggested Little Saigon, which I'd heard about but never visited. What a disappointment. It's nothing more than a suburban-looking neighborhood with strip mall after strip mall (with signs in Vietnamese instead of English)..

For an easterner who's used to visiting various Chinatowns and other ethnic neighborhoods, it was, like, "huh?"

Patrick Dec 2nd, 2003 12:05 PM

I love LA, but rarely go downtown. I've rented for a month a couple times and will do so again late next summer. I always stay in West Hollywood, right by Sunset Blvd/La Cienega at the Summerfield Suites. There's just so much going on, so many great restaurants, tons of live theatre (the little 99 seat places, not so much the big tours). And seeing a movie there is like nowhere else.

I must admit I haven't been to downtown LA in the last couple of trips -- not much there to interest me, although I will get by to see the new Disney Hall next time and hopefully see (or hear) something there. I never miss going to the Hollywood Bowl -- what a great experience. Hollywood itself is more fun than ever these days. Beverly Hills is great for window shopping (or car watching). And Santa Monica/Venice beaches are at the doorstep. When we need more to do, we head to Laguna for the day, or over to Catalina, or down to Long Beach, or out to Pasadena. Where else are there so many great little cities in such close range?

aquaman Dec 2nd, 2003 12:09 PM

As a life-long east coaster, I thought I would hate LA, but I kind of liked it when I was there. I went on business during one of the east's February coldsnaps. Although it was kind of grey and damp most of the time I was in LA, it was nice walking around with just a light jacket on. I found the people to be friendly and driving wasn't nearly as crazy as in NYC or Boston.

I did some fairly typical tourist things and enjoyed my stay. I'd go back to LA for another look, only I'd want to stay in a nicer area (Santa Monica or Beverly Hills). I was in Culver City but spent a fair amount of time in downtown LA, West Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, the Valley, and Beverly Hills.

I don't think I'd like to live in LA, though... way to spread out and car-dependent. And with the exception of Beverly Hills, too many of the homes I saw seemed to look like cheap stucco bungalows with bars on the windows.

Scarlett Dec 2nd, 2003 12:16 PM

I used to live in the Hollywood Hills and I loved it. I love LA :)

rjw_lgb_ca Dec 2nd, 2003 12:17 PM

k_999_9: I don't doubt that Westminster was an underwhelming tourist experience, but I also think it's unfair to paint the whole LA experience using that as your example. Bear in mind that the ethnic neighborhoods you're seeking out in LA often don't spring up with tourists in mind. Little Saigon (the neighborhood in Westminster you're talking about) is simply an area where a large number of Vietnamese live and work. Refugee populations adapt to the area, not vice-versa; Westminster is a rather unattractive bedroom community of strip malls and tract homes in northern Orange County. No more, no less. Even LA's Chinatown and Little Tokyo (and Koreatown, for that matter) don't strive for that "touch of Exotica in America" feel that you get up in, say, San Francisco's Chinatown.

I find that the people who have the best impressions of the LA area are those who get the most balanced experience. That is, not just Rodeo Drive, but also Melrose; not just Hollywood, but the Getty Center and LACMA and MOCA; not just Santa Monica, but Laguna, Newport, Redondo, Hermosa, Huntington Beaches.... And add Downtown sites like Calle Olvera, Disney Hall, all those great old movie houses.

I still like visiting LA from my homebase of dumpy ol' Long Beach. I love living here, and my friends who visit from out of town pick up on my enthusiasm and realize that you can have a wonderful life here. That will make ANY place a great place to visit, don't you think?

Leona Dec 2nd, 2003 12:32 PM

Went once to LA, had an altercation in a gas station with a beggar, got scared, stayed in Santa Monica and then Santa Barbara. Never even got to Rodeo Drive.

I have no desire to go back.

bennnie Dec 2nd, 2003 01:25 PM

I used to go to LA for business fairly regularly in the 90s. Haven't been recently but I always enjoyed my stays there. Had made friends with a co-worker who really knew LA well and was willing to shepard me around. Got to know Manhatten Beach, saw a little of Venice Beach area (ate at Hal's a couple of times and always enjoyed it). Did the Rodeo Drive thing but wasn't impressed. Melrose was more interesting. I actually thought I could live there if need be and if I had enough money.

easytraveler Dec 2nd, 2003 01:46 PM

Love-hate LA!

Just returned from there and had dinner in old Pasadena. Wonderful dinner! Only a six hour drive for me from home in Northern California, so I go as often as possible.

Another favorite restaurant is Yamashiro's above Hollywood, with it's movie star view of the valley below.

In fact, have favorite restaurants scattered all over Greater LA.

Love the Getty Center! Also love most of the beach communities, Orange County.

Hate parts of Torrance, Compton, Watts (sorry, the Watts Tower did nothing for me).

Greater LA is so HUGE! There is so much to do and see, to like and dislike!


angeleno Dec 2nd, 2003 08:13 PM

We love LA! We love it!

Seriously, I've moved back after 5 years away, and am amazed how much my city changes.
The gentrification of Hollywood is a bit too bougie for my taste, and having grown up on the periphery of Downtown, I have no idea why anyone would pay $1500 for an apartment there, but still, it's looking good!

Dave_ Dec 3rd, 2003 04:17 AM

Of the US cities I have been to, I would say Los Angeles did the least for me by along way. I was only there for 3 nights so I do hope to return one day in the future to see if I see the city in a different way.

It's probably because I tend to prefer cities with an obvious central core which LA didn't seem to have, it just seemed to spread on and on, and it didn't appear to do that very attractively. In terms of things to do, I have found most other cities (even much smaller ones) have a lot more to offer (but maybe that's just me).

Having said that, I did like spending time in Griffith Park which was probably my highlight of LA.

Judyrem Dec 3rd, 2003 04:43 AM

I agree with Dave. I also like cities with a "Core". That is my my main draw now. LA was just tooooo spread out. We did the tourist things, but stayed in Marina Del Ray. I liked San Diego much better. Judy

TxTravelPro Dec 3rd, 2003 05:44 AM

I go to LA quarterly and never get tired of it! In fact, my teenage daughter gets mad if I do not take her along when I go.
We do stupid stuff like look for movie stars, and drive around looking at the homes in BH and the Hollywood Hills. We go to the 3rd Street Promenade and Malibu... we also like to go to Santee Alley in Downtown. Shopping there is good for teens and they have people on the street selling sliced Mango and some good taco stands! It's just the carnival atmosphere, I guess.
The people are friendly and I don't even mind the traffic... I just try to avoid it.
Also, you have some of the best hotels in the world, the ocean, mountains, etc... what's not to like?
I've been to the top museums there, which are great... but we love the LA area for just kickin' back and shopping!

Surfergirl Dec 3rd, 2003 05:45 AM

Aquaman -- you should see Culver City now! They recently completed a renovation of the area, including an exquisite restoration of the old Culver Hotel (that housed the likes of Clark Gable and the "munchkins" during the filming of Wizard of Oz), which appeared in a number of the Laurel & Hardy movies and is now on the list of historic hotels. Now if they can only restore Westwood Village like that!

Patrick -- if they have anything going on at the Geffen in Westwood, you should add that to your theatre list. We have season tickets there, and I can't imagine a better place to see small theatre with really good quality plays.

k_999_9 Dec 3rd, 2003 06:10 AM

Well, I was trying to avoid an argument, but I guess I can't.

rjw says I was wrong to judge LA just on the Little Saigon area, but I think he (she) missed what I said. In order to avoid a long screed about all I dislike about LA, I (as mentioned) just used one example. There are many others I could cite.

For instance, as one poster noted, once you leave the affluent areas, the city totally lacks character and is swarming with cheap stucco bungalows. I have nothing against low-cost housing, but it is possible to make it attractive and warm -- as is seen in a lot of big-city neighborhoods, such as the rowhouse areas in a place like South Philadelphia.

But, hey, to each his own. LA's just not for me.

rjw_lgb_ca Dec 3rd, 2003 07:07 AM

Now k (may I call you "k"? :) ), what I said was not a criticism. And I agree that a lot of the outlying suburbs in the LA metro area are ugly. Just like the outlying suburbs of many towns. Fact is, the 50s and 60s were "boom" years where people poured into the state, and they had to have SOMEWHERE to live.

An example: The city of Lakewood, just north of Long Beach, is a sea of 1400-square foot stucco ranch homes, built to house new arrivals, Douglas Aircraft workers, people leaving LA for a little patch of cheap grass, etc. Compare it to the older beach neighborhoods of Long Beach (or Santa Monica), where you find original Arts and Crafts style beach houses from the 10s and 20s. You want charm, that's where you find it.

And you're right-- to each his/her own (and for the record, I'm a he). I choose NOT to live in LA proper, but in Long Beach, a large city of manageable physical size and a clear downtown (which is currently undergoing a little Renaissance). NOT a tourist destination, thank goodness (other than the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific-- and the LB Grand Prix in April). Just a nice place to live. And cheaper than LA.

And if you want more beautiful neighborhoods, how about Pasadena? Or Altadena? Or Hancock Park? Or the grand Victorian houses in West Adams (an oasis of gentrification in a fairly rough part of LA)?

gigib Dec 3rd, 2003 11:02 AM

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! Very enlightening. Having been a tourist, I am glad when tourists to my home enjoy their visit. No one mentioned our wonderful weather, best in the country! I live at the edge of the city in the Santa Monica mountains, nice and quiet, surrounded by natural vegetation and lots of wildlife, but the city is just a short drive away. On your next visit, check out the wilderness of the Santa Monicas and take a hike. Wildflowers in April and May can be spectacular.

Thyra Dec 3rd, 2003 11:52 AM

You know I love Los Angeles!! Though I live here. I grew up in a suburb about 20 miles North and couldn't wait to buy a house in the city.
I have to include the caveat that I love my city "warts and all" I've travelled to NYC, Paris, Sydney, Nairobi, London, Montreal, and hundreds of other cities, and I readily acknowledge that from a tourist point of view L.A might seem a nightmare. It's a city you need to know where to go.. it's pockets of diamonds, surrounded by acres of stripmalls. It's Pretentious wannabees on the surface (who we natives all swear come here from other states to "make it") interspersed with some of the truest, most laid back people in the U.S. Oh, yes and then there is the transpo issue. I love going to NYC or London getting off a plane, and being able to navigate the entire city, without getting near the wheel of a car. But then again, you can't wiz down Sunset blvd right as the sun sets in the middle of December with your top down and your hair blowing in the breeze headed for the beach in Paris. And I know of no other city on earth, where you can spend 3 hours hiking each day, seeing wild deer, coyote's rabbits cactus and wild life, then look over your shoulder and see a sprawling metropolis.. but yes, this IS L.A after all, so you'd better hike early in the day, before the smog impeeds your view...:).

hsv Dec 3rd, 2003 11:56 AM


coming from Northern Europe, I have always considered L.A. to have the best imaginable living quality I have encountered anywhere.

Thus, I keep returning- and if there's a place I would want to live apart from home now, L.A. would be top of the list.

I like to visit with people in Pasadena and stay in that area. I particularly enjoy the museums like the ubiquitous Getty- and of course Norton Simon. Descanso Gardens in La Canada/ Flintridge is beautiful, as is Huntington Library.
Beverly Hills around Rodeo Drive is fun, as is Old Town Pasadena with its lovely restaurants.
What fascinates me most is outdoor activities, like the beaches, the mountains (even skiing is possible) and affordable muni Golf courses.

I enjoy taking a leisurely drive down Sunset, starting somewhere around Olvera Street (although I do not care too much for Downtown) and going all the way down into Hollywood/ West Hollywood, strolling on Melrose, continue into the hills and take in a few views from Mulholland, do some (window) shopping on Rodeo and continue down to Santa Monica. Have a sundowner at Gladstone's.
Overall, I just take in the atmosphere of freedom around and the friendliness of people.
It's also fun that you never encounter too many tourists, (if I a tourist may admit to that) as it's my impression that L.A. is in fact rather unpopular with most people I know. This may be due to the fact that people do not encounter L.A. as a conglomerate of cities- as they should, probably. Most of them also find it intimidating to navigate around town and miss a true center like San Francisco offers it.
Whereas I would prefer L.A. over San Franccisco every time.
I hope I was able to convey my secret passion for your city- and writing this my desire to return once more grows with every letter.
Greetings from Hamburg

J_Correa Dec 3rd, 2003 02:52 PM

I haven't been to LA since I was about 10 (almost 20 years ago), but it was always a lot of fun. We lived in Ventura and I remember the beaches near LA being a lot nicer for swimming than the beaches in Ventura. We went to Santa Monica and Venice a lot.

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