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First time in LA! How do I experience it as a young local?

I'll be staying at a friend's apartment at USC in July but he won't be around. What's to do for the younger crowd (between 18-25)? ie. attractions, food, nightlife.. I want to experience the city as a local would

9 Answers

answered by
Vicky from Los Angeles

One of my summer time favorites is going to the free concerts at Grand Performances at California Plaza in downtown. From USC it should be an easy Metro ride. Get there at least an hour early - it's a local institution and you want to get a spot (where you can also dance). Grab a picnic beforehand at Grand Central Market, take the Angels Flight - Lower Station and yes you can BYOB. 

Santa Monica Pier also has its own free Twilight Concerts on Thursdays starting July 10th. 

Venice Beach is fun but gets really crowded. I usually like to park along Rose Avenue between 3rd and 7th or surrounding streets and walk straight to the beach. Oscars Cerveteca on Rose has awesome happy hours - great tacos (a must when you're in LA!) and ceviches with homemade habanero sauce. For even cheaper tacos and ceviche tostadas, the La Isla Bonita truck on Rose at 4th always has a line (they're usually out of there by 4pm). 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. California Plaza (attraction)
  2. Grand Central Market (restaurant)
  3. Angels Flight - Lower Station (attraction)
  4. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  5. Oscars Cerveteca (restaurant)
  6. La Isla Bonita (restaurant)
8 thanks

answered by
Dave from California

Jordan - have you considered going to some of the improv or comedy clubs in and around Hollywood? For small intimate seating, a couple I have been to are The Groundlings Theatre - and a young crowd as well as actors are also at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, iO West Theater and Second City Hollywood. Tickets to most shows are fairly inexpensive. Also perhaps of interest, Jay Leno performs often Sundays at The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Groundlings Theatre (attraction)
  2. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (attraction)
  3. iO West Theater (attraction)
  4. Second City Hollywood (attraction)
  5. The Comedy & Magic Club (attraction)
7 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Lanka from Los Angeles

Definitely DEFINITELY go to Art Walk. The second Thursday of every month there is the Downtown LA Art Walk  the heart of downtown LA In July it will be on the 10th so if you are in town that day you must definitely check it out And if you like good books, a big attraction that day is The Last Bookstore. They have tons and tons of books and it's right in the midst of the bar scene so you will be where it's at.

And the beaches: some must see locations for an east coast visitor are the beaches; Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach Boardwalk are two very popular places. 

Will you be traveling in a car or public transportation? If by car, check out before you head out to sight see, and if by public transportation check out

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Downtown LA Art Walk (attraction)
  2. The Last Bookstore (attraction)
  3. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  4. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Bailey from Los Angeles

Hi there! I actually go to USC, so I know the area quite well :)

If you have a car, I'd definitely take a drive out to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. When you're in Venice, go check out the Venice Canals. The Venice Beach Boardwalk is cool and pretty touristy, but the canals are really neat!

Much closer to USC is Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). If you want something cool and artsy, go to Little Tokyo and hit up Wurstküche Restaurant for lunch.

If you want to party in DTLA, my favorite spots are the rooftop bars at The Standard Downtown LA and the newer Ace Hotel Los Angeles. Or if you're not into rooftops and the weather is bad (joking), go to The Edison. It's like an industrial speakeasy.

Enjoy your stay!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice Beach (city)
  2. Santa Monica (city)
  3. Venice Canals (attraction)
  4. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  5. Downtown Los Angeles (metro area)
  6. Little Tokyo (neighborhood)
  7. Wurstküche Restaurant (restaurant)
  8. The Standard Downtown LA (hotel)
  9. Ace Hotel Los Angeles (hotel)
  10. The Edison (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Kay from Vermont

Manhattan Beach it's so cute and one of my favorite spots in LA. Go for a stroll along the beach and The Kettle is my favorite restaurant for breakfast. Everything is great (plus, order a honey bran muffin.. or 2)! The Grove is a classic for an evening. Santa Monica Pier is great especially at sunset, ride the ferris wheel with friends for great views of the surrounding area. And of course, don't miss LACMAat night! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manhattan Beach (city)
  2. The Kettle (restaurant)
  3. The Grove (attraction)
  4. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  5. LACMA (attraction)
5 thanks

answered by
Richard from Los Angeles

Well, go to the local USC bar 901 Bar & Grill  take the metro downtown, eat breakfast at the The Original Pantry or have a beef dip at Philippe the Original.  Go to Dodger Stadium and catch a game and sit in the outfield, all you can eat Pavilion.  Take the red line to Hollywood, go to some clubs and stay out til 2:00.  Eat a dog or two Pink's.  Have sushi in Little Tokyo. Eat Pot at the Line Hotelrestaurant in Koreatown.  Go to Highland Park and have a drink The York.  Eat at a Pasadena Trash Truck For music, find the little music clubs in downtown LA. ....

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. 901 Bar & Grill (attraction)
  2. The Original Pantry (restaurant)
  3. Philippe the Original (restaurant)
  4. Dodger Stadium (attraction)
  5. Hollywood (attraction)
  6. Pink's (restaurant)
  7. Little Tokyo (neighborhood)
  8. Pot at the Line Hotel (restaurant)
  9. The York (attraction)
  10. Pasadena Trash Truck (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)

top answer by
Jason from Los Angeles

First off, don't bother with the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Boulevard, star maps, the "walk of fame", the sunset strip, Melrose, The Beverly Center, The Grove, or the chinese theater. There's really no reason to visit Hollywood at all unless you're really interested in something specific. We usually drive our guests through really quickly so they can get an eyeful from inside the car.

On either side of the no man's land of Hollywood and Beverly Hills are the east side (think: Brooklyn) and the west side (think: Manhattan). You can find great food and drinks and good times in either, but you're more likely to end u in or near a mall on the west side.

Here are some of my favorite places to eat and things to do in LA


Sunset Junction Neighborhood seems like it should be a tourist location, but it's all locals. There are shops, restaurants, and an Intelligentsia

Rose Bowl Flea Market


The Getty Center

Downtown Los AngelesLos Angeles Arts DistrictLittle Tokyo 

Third Street Promenade

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Abbot Kinney — bring your wallet!

Echo Park Lake


Bäco Mercat — a "Baco" is a flatbread taco. Deal with it.

Bar Ama — This is a high-end, gourmet take on traditional tex-mex and it is absolutely my favorite place to eat in Los Angeles

Wurstküche Restaurant serves Belgian and German beers and the best sausages I've ever eaten, all in a beautiful, open space in the DTLA arts district

LA Chapter is a new restaurant at the new Ace Hotel Los Angeles downtown. It's tasty and teeters right there on the fine line between hip and too-damn-hip.

Umami Burger


Cacao Mexicatessen

Guerrilla Tacos is abrand new, Jonathan Gold rated taco truck outside Handsome Roasters downtown. This thing just blew up and it's all anyone can talk about.

Bestia might be the best italian food in Los Angeles


Gjelina is known for their high-end pizzas, but also has a complete menu of incredibly delicious everythings


Tasting Kitchen

Farm Shop

Son of A Gun Restaurant

Superba Food + Bread

Osteria Mozza


AOC serves tapas and various small plates for sharing, as well as a wine list that is way, way over my head


Blue Bottle Coffee Downtown is LA's golden boy on the coffee scene. The cafe and roastery is one of my favorite places in the city. Sadly, the company was just acquired by Blue Bottle and the brand will be absorbed soon.

Intelligentisa has locations in Silver Lake, Venice and Pasadena:

Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea


EightyTwo is a brand new barcade in downtown. Pinball, standup games, DJs, amazing cocktails, and the Street Fighter II display is mirrored by a projector over the bar.

The Edison is a sight to behold. It's a gigantic, retro-futurist, red velvet-laiden, machinery-filled, steampunk-friendly bar housed in a former. Honestly, it's worth checking out. Fancy beer, tasty snacks, awesome cocktails. Just be sure to wear decent shoes and non-denim pants — there's a dress code.

Ace Hotel Los Angeles has a great rooftop bar. Get there on the early side to avoid lines.

The Thirsty Crow is a hipster-y but fun Silver Lake cocktail spot on Sunset

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sunset Junction Neighborhood (attraction)
  2. Rose Bowl Flea Market (attraction)
  3. LACMA (attraction)
  4. The Getty Center (attraction)
  5. Downtown Los Angeles (metro area)
  6. Los Angeles Arts District (neighborhood)
  7. Little Tokyo (neighborhood)
  8. Third Street Promenade (attraction)
  9. Venice Beach Boardwalk (attraction)
  10. Abbot Kinney (attraction)
  11. Echo Park Lake (attraction)
  12. Bäco Mercat (restaurant)
  13. Bar Ama (attraction)
  14. Wurstküche Restaurant (restaurant)
  15. LA Chapter (restaurant)
  16. Ace Hotel Los Angeles (hotel)
  17. Umami Burger (restaurant)
  18. SUGARFISH | Downtown LA (attraction)
  19. Cacao Mexicatessen (restaurant)
  20. Guerrilla Tacos (attraction)
  21. Bestia (restaurant)
  22. Gjelina (restaurant)
  23. A-Frame (restaurant)
  24. Tasting Kitchen (restaurant)
  25. Farm Shop (restaurant)
  26. Son of A Gun Restaurant (restaurant)
  27. Superba Food + Bread (restaurant)
  28. Osteria Mozza (restaurant)
  29. Ink. (restaurant)
  30. AOC (restaurant)
  31. Blue Bottle Coffee Downtown (attraction)
  32. Intelligentsia Coffee (restaurant)
  33. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (restaurant)
  34. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (restaurant)
  35. EightyTwo (attraction)
  36. The Edison (attraction)
  37. Ace Hotel Los Angeles (hotel)
  38. The Thirsty Crow (restaurant)
26 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Vinny from Manhattan Beach

If you're going to be in LA during the summer time, then you're going to want to spend a good portion of your time down by the beach. For the age range you're looking for, Hermosa Beach is going to be your best bet. There are a ton of bars, restaurants and beach parties that happen throughout the summer here.

Manhattan BeachSanta Monica Pier and Malibu are other great spots as well, but tend to have older crowds there (25-35+).

Some other things to check out would be:

There are a ton of other things to do, but I would knock these out before everything else (in my opinion). Plus, if you're a beach person then you will probably be spending most of your time there anyways.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hermosa Beach (city)
  2. Manhattan Beach (city)
  3. Santa Monica Pier (attraction)
  4. Malibu (city)
  5. Dodger Stadium (attraction)
  6. Hollywood Bowl (attraction)
  7. Los Angeles Chinatown (neighborhood)
  8. Koreatown (Los Angeles) (attraction)
  9. Palos Verdes Estates (attraction)
  10. Topanga State Park (attraction)
  11. Marina Del Rey (city)
15 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Pamela from New Canaan, Connecticut

Don't miss:  Koreatown (Los Angeles).  Celebrated Los Angeles chef-of-the-moment, Roy Choi, went from a chef ingloriously fired from a high-profile restaurant, to food truck pioneer (he would tweet the changing locations of the truck), to baron of a restaurant empire.  POT is his lively (ie raucous) new restaurant in the The Line - Los Angeles - a hip and happening joint serving up Korean fusion food. Bowls, chopsticks and metal water cups are hidden in cubbyholes set into each of the long communal tables, on which there's a plastic pitcher of ice tea and a roll of paper towels. Don't leave LA without eating in at least one of Roy Choi's restaurants.  [Side note: Choi was a producer on the recent film, "Chef."  Director and star, Jon Favreau, worked in Choi's restaurant kitchens to learn the ropes for the part.]

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Koreatown (Los Angeles) (attraction)
  2. Los Angeles (city)
  3. POT (restaurant)
  4. The Line - Los Angeles (hotel)
1 thanks

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