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Los Angeles

Great places to visit and eat near LAX airport?

Hi, just before embarking on a road trip to San Francisco, I will have a short stay at a hotel near LAX airport in April. What are some places nearby that I could visit without making the schlepp to WeHo, etc? I'd be interested in beaches, restaurants, and local sights (but preferably not the obvious ones) and I like photography, hipster places, contemporary art, design, and vegetarian/Asian/Mediterranean food.

7 Answers

top answer by
Spencer from Los Angeles

Some really great places in the beach cities right around LAX. I mean my first stop is In-N-Out Burger, which is the closest, and inherently California, but I imagine you want something more local/hipster. I'd head straight for Playa Del Rey, which is essentially the beach that you fly over going in and out of LAX. It's a hood that even a lot of locals don't go to. Great beach (and only one with firepits in the city), Dockweiler State Beach, and then a couple great restaurants, including Playa Provisions, which is great for happy hour or dinner, and Senor G's, which is an awesome little Mexican spot. BOMB burritos. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. In-N-Out Burger (restaurant)
  2. Playa Del Rey (city)
  3. Dockweiler State Beach (attraction)
  4. Playa Provisions (restaurant)
  5. Senor G's (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Vicky from Los Angeles

Venice Beach is a good choice for something close to LAX but quintessential LA. Abbot Kinney, called the "coolest block in America" by GQ, has artsy / hipster shops, restaurants, food trucks, and art galleries, and if you're in town on a First Friday everything opens till late. Gjelina is a local favorite. I love the fresh, clean tasting food and airy decor at Salt Air. If you like tacos, try the Asian-inspired tacos (many of them Indonesian-inspired like beef rendang tacos) at Komodo Venice. Beach-wise, the area just south of Venice Fishing Pier and near the canals is usually quiet as it's pretty far from the boardwalk. It's a great spot to catch the sunset! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Gjelina (restaurant)
  2. Salt Air (restaurant)
  3. Komodo Venice (restaurant)
  4. Venice Fishing Pier (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Scott from San Francisco

Close enough to LAX is Culver City, which is brimming with culinary delights, many hipster-ish enough to meet your requirement.  Father's Office for their famous burger, Lukshon for cool upscale Asian cuisine, The Coolhaus Shop for what I consider the best ice cream in all of LA, A-Frame is a Roy Choi restaurant which might be my favorite in the entire city and you can even get the famous Kogi tacos and Roy Choi's Kogi treats without standing in line at a food truck at a bar called Alibi Room (over 21 only).  Note:  None of these places is appropriate for children.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Culver City (city)
  2. Father's Office (restaurant)
  3. Lukshon (restaurant)
  4. The Coolhaus Shop (attraction)
  5. A-Frame (restaurant)
  6. Alibi Room (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Peter from Munich

If you like photography and aviation photography the In-N-Out Burger is a great place to get pictures. 

usually the planes come in right above your head.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. In-N-Out Burger (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Anna from Athens

Came back from an LA to SF road trip myself so all I can say: enjoy!!

I agree that Venice Beach is the closest to LAX. We stayed in Washington Blvd actually which has a couple of bars and restaurants! Abbot Kinney and the Venice Canals are good choices and provide nice photo opportunities.

As a proof here are photos from my trip:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice Beach (city)
  2. Abbot Kinney (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Z from Los Angeles

How much time do you have? If you have half a day and haven't been there, the obvious answer is Venice and Muscle Beach- get dropped off at the end of Venice Blvd and walk north for a mile or two along the boardwalk. You'll see buskers, head shops, bad art, the skateboard park, a big graffiti wall, surfers, body builders, people playing handball/paddle tennis/basketball, and homeless drug addicts loitering. Something for everyone! ;) It's very popular with locals and tourists alike, so it might not be what you're looking for, BUT if you haven't been, it's still worth seeing. There is a reason it's popular. It's not just for tourists.

For more hipster than hippie, you can check out Abbot Kinney BLVD Shopping for boutique shopping and tons of good restaurants. Or for something really unique: many locals don't even know that there are still real canals in Venice. Walk southeast from where you were dropped off and you'll find a little maze of canals in the Venice Canals Walkway

If you want to take in all of the above and don't want to walk for hours, you might instead want to get dropped off at the end of Washington Blvd. Right by the Venice Fishing Pier you can rent a bike (walk your bike in the canals) and see it all. If you have time to spare, you can ride the paths around the fingers of Marina Del Rey and look at an amazing array of sailboats. 

If you don't have time for all that, have a relaxing picnic on the little-known grassy knolls of Burton Chace Park overlooking the Marina and watch the sailboats go by. You can get a sandwich or salad from Mendocino Farms or another restaurant nearby and walk there.

Now, you asked for off the beaten path, so I might also second the suggestion for Playa Del Rey. It feels more like a sleepy little beach community far away from a big city. There is a big canal, a park, and a big beach, and uncrowded. Not much to see, but that might add to the appeal for you. The only downside is that unlike most LA beaches, the water quality can be horrible because of Ballona Creek, so if it's rained at all recently, I wouldn't go swimming.

I once read about a walking tour of mid-century houses in Mar Vista, but I have never done it so can't vouch for it. Can't find the website, but found this neat map of interesting and historic modern places in LA on the LA Conservancy's website that you might find useful:

Enjoy! LA is definitely much more than Hollywood. So much to explore. Next time you can come through, dedicate enough time to check out the LA Arts District and the nooks an crannies and crazy stuff in DTLA. If you like art and funky, you'd love it.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Muscle Beach (attraction)
  2. Abbot Kinney BLVD Shopping (attraction)
  3. Venice Canals Walkway (attraction)
  4. Venice Fishing Pier (attraction)
  5. Marina Del Rey (city)
  6. Burton Chace Park (attraction)
  7. Playa Del Rey (city)
  8. Mar Vista (neighborhood)
1 thankscomments (2)

answered by
JR from Manhattan Beach

I think you'd enjoy Little Sister in Manhattan Beach. It's close to LAX and tasty Asian food.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Little Sister (restaurant)
  2. Manhattan Beach (city)
1 thanks

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