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-   -   Do You Like Los Angeles? (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/do-you-like-los-angeles-380088/)

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!

easytraveler

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

gigib,

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
hsv

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.

Mr_Me Dec 3rd, 2003 03:02 PM

LA rocks, ya just got to stay out of downtown or Hollywierd. Mountains, desert, beach, multi-cultural. All is good if ya don't mind all the traffic. I stay down In Redondo Beach at The Beach House becouse it's got a laid back so. cal. feel to it plus they have a nice little spa on the boardwalk ( www.wholelifeconsultants.com ).

bardo Dec 3rd, 2003 04:05 PM

I've been once - it was OK - not my favorite. There are so many places in the world to see that LA isn't even on the list anymore. When I do revisit California, I'm afraid I'll revisit SF (or even San Diego) before I go back to LA. Sorry.

beany Dec 6th, 2003 11:15 AM

I didn't want to like LA. In theory, it's everything I say that I don't like. In reality, I always enjoy my time there. I like the beaches, the old neighborhoods, the shopping, and especially the weather and the people. I'm going back in two weeks and am looking forward to it.

beany

beanbag Dec 6th, 2003 12:49 PM

My wife and I were there for a few days. I had to drag her away from Rodeo Drive. They know how to entertain the men as the women shop at some of those boutiques.

ChristieP Dec 6th, 2003 03:41 PM

No, I honestly don't like LA. I go to a convention there every other summer at the LA County Fairgrounds.

The big thing that I dislike about LA is the smog. Even though I come from a big city, the smog just kills me. I usually am hacking and coughing within 2 days, and it takes me a week to get over it once I leave. It is a pity that southern CA, which was obviously once very beautiful, has such poor air quality.

earl30 Dec 7th, 2003 10:13 AM

I'm with Beany. I love my New York and think I only like big walking cities and LA certainly isn't that. But I love it. Why is that?

luiinsac Dec 7th, 2003 01:49 PM

I have fun in LA. But then again, I have fun everywhere I go.

I wouldnt want to live there though.

rjw_lgb_ca Dec 10th, 2003 07:32 AM

I can't let ChristieP's post go unremarked. Poor Christie-- I'd hate the LA area too if my primary taste of it was Pomona! Those inland communities get the worst of the LA bad things-- sprawl, artlessness, and SMOG. That's why I'm so glad I live on the coast, where we almost never have problems with air pollution. And if you go an hour east to the Coachella Valley, the smog doesn't make it over the mountains and you'll find clean, very hot desert air.

Another reason to love living here: While settling in at my desk in my office this morning, I looked out my window and saw dolphins frolicking in the waves. And a dreary Wednesday got a whole lot brighter. And best of all, the sun's coming out, just in time for the world-famous Santa Monica Farmer's Market! Time to head down and buy the produce we get year-round (lettuce from Carson! Asparagus and artichokes from Lompoc! Artesanal olives trucked in from Santa Barbara!). Sorry, but it's just REALLY good here in southern CA.

rjw_lgb_ca Dec 10th, 2003 07:35 AM

Oh, and Pomona isn't all bad-- it's got some great colleges (Cal Poly Pomona, a Claremont College campus) and "affordable" housing....

martytravels Dec 10th, 2003 07:46 AM

I love lots of things about LA - it's diversity, its wide-raning landscapes, its weather, Santa Monica, and cool neighborhoods like Los Feliz, Leimert Park and Melrose.
I hate the sprawl and the lack of a true center, and the dearth of public transit. It's heaven and hell.

kkj Dec 10th, 2003 09:20 AM

I LOVE LA!! I was lucky enought to have a job that required me to spend at least two weeks every month in LA and then a few days of San Diego. Talk about heaven.

I've always said LA is for playing and San Diego is for living. The only thing I disagree with is the person who said LA has the best weather in the country. Sorry, but those in the know weather wise give that honor to San Diego.

LA has something for everyone. It's got museums, beaches, theatre, sports, shopping, Hollywood etc. There are theme parks, great restaurants and outdoor hiking. You've got lakes and mountains nearby. You can see the beach and ski on one trip.

It seems that visitors just want to do Disney, Universal and Hollywood. That's great, but there is a whole world out there.

Yes, the downtown of LA isn't that exciting, but who cares? You've still got a million things to do. As a former "road warrior" I always had a great time in LA.

CalgirlSusan Dec 10th, 2003 07:40 PM

I think the people who dislike LA the most are those who go there on business or for conventions and get stuck downtown. That's not LA.

SalB Dec 10th, 2003 09:08 PM

We like LA. We take the train to Olvera Street and look around, then eat some great Mexican food there. Usually walk up the hill to an LA Phil concert and take the train home.

Occasionally visit LACMA for one of their visiting exhibits. They have terrific exhibits pretty often.

Last trip we accidentally happened on the new Catholic Cathedral and wandered in. It is very impressive. We're looking forward to visiting the new Disney Concert Hall soon.

It's a great city.

rquirk Dec 10th, 2003 11:48 PM

I liked Santa Monica but not the traffic queues to get there. I thought Hollywood was sooooo cheesy but I did enjoy watching 'Enemy at the Gates' in that Chinese theatre place - excellent film and just an incredible theatre. I had to wonder in Hollywood who would buy a stars and stripes spandex bikini, white crotch length high heels and then have a piercing and a tattoo of an alien hanging by their neck with their eyes spilling out of their sockets. Does anybody know?

rjw_lgb_ca Dec 11th, 2003 06:52 AM

Doesn't Paris Hilton dress up like that when she's in town...?

Actually, every so often I see a woman dressed like that to shop in the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Apparently she gets lost every so often and doesn't realize she's wandered far from the corner of Hollywood and Vine....

sherpa Dec 16th, 2003 06:17 PM

The major drawback of LA is how spreadout it is. We are planning to visit LA in January for a week. Which is the best place to stay- we want to to do the the usuaual touristy things in Beverley Hills, Universal Studios, Disney Land and the Beaches. We are thinking of spending a few days in Beverly Hills or Sunset Blvd and few days in Laguna Beach. Please recommend some kid friendly hotels or alternative locations to stay at.

Calamari Dec 16th, 2003 07:00 PM

I was born & raised in L.A. Went to school in Brentwood. Spent lost of time in that part of town. Must say, I really hate L.A. Sad, since it is where I am from, but true, one can never truely go home. What a dump!

Alisa Dec 17th, 2003 09:45 PM

LA certainly has its charm. I've lived here for years. You can't beat the weather.

Tommorrow I am going to interview applicants for a program at UCLA from all over the country. They will get to experience sunshine, a lovely Farmer's Market in Westwood, and friendly people.
People from out of state really do find LA special--most people, that is.

Yes we have traffic-whatever. We also have lovely museums, miles of coastline, mountains, amazing restaurants....

I'll tell you, although I have been a Westsider for over 15 years, I have been spending a lot of time in the Toluca Lake/Burbank area, which is lovely. Little restaurants, a bit quieter than the Westside. Not bad!

Note to RJW-it is hard to belive that Long Beach is changing so much. I remember when the Pine Street started revitalizing. I waitressed at "Perry's Pasta" when it opened in 1986! Don't know if it is still there. It really is a beutiful street now.

Marilyn Dec 17th, 2003 09:54 PM

I was just there for 4 days, and even though we have dear friends there, and we did some very cool and fun things, and had some good food, I just don't like the place. It feels like it has no soul.

Iregeo Dec 18th, 2003 07:00 AM

Well said, Marilyn! You hit the nail on the head. I've lived here for 20 years (my husband is a local boy) and I still don't like the place. Sure, it has its attributes, but, as you aptly stated, no soul.


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