A few weeks ago I had family friends in town visiting all the way over from Paris France. Between stressing the f*ck out about how I’m planning on communicating with them in general and trying to figure out what about LA they might actually enjoy this trip around I really had to sit down, with wine in hand, and plan out our few days together. I’m pleased to report back that even with the odds stacked against us – they hated their last trip to LA, and communication was reduced down to a 3 day game of charades – they left head over heels for Los Angeles. “William… Didier… Come back Los Angeles.” they said in their adorable Parisian accents, and I have to say, I don’t think I could be any more pleased with myself and my pro tour-guide like skills.
If you’ve got family, friends, people to introduce to Los Angeles that have never experienced such a city, it can be frustrating trying to make plans! You don’t dare let them walk on Hollywood Blvd, and if they want to see the Pier they might be on their own, but it’s in their and your best interest to show them our good sides and give them a better understanding about why you live in Los Angeles, despite their possible initial hesitations. There’s plenty of things to do and places to go that make living in LA look like a freakin blasty blast, if you find yourself volunteering to play tour guide to foreigners visiting LA, here are 5 tested and approved activities to consider:
1. Put your best food forward and show them how we do brunch, lunch, AND dinner.
The best way to experience a city and their culture is through their food, granted LA doesn’t exactly have one specific cuisine everyone abides to, but that’s kind of the beauty of this city, we’re a most epic melting pot of cuisines and our chefs are pretttty freakin incredible. It’s imperative your guests engage in an LA brunch, fortunately there plenty of options to choose from, but somewhere special and unique like Cliffs Edge, A-Frame, Tasting Kitchen, etc is the idea to keep in mind. Lunch is important too of course; think Gjelina, Terroni, Sycamore Kitchen, Public School, etc. Last but not least, finish any perfect day with dinner, perhaps al fresco??, at one of our city’s finest and favs like Eveleigh, Republique, Acabar, and shit maybe even Gjelina again? Kidding, but I know you’ve got plenty of places in your arsenal that you believe would impress out-of-towners – think, reserve, go, enjoy. Be thanked later.
2. Drive them down the PCH to Malibu and do fun shit there.
There’s few things more enjoyable to a foreigner visiting LA than driving down the Southern California coast. Very few. As explained to me by my favorite French men at least. Start off by taking the 10 straight to PCH, see the Santa Monica Pier (look behind you kind of!), drive all the way through Malibu, put the windows down (or don’t), and enjoy the view! The great thing about Malibu is that it’s far but just close enough to feel like you’re taking part in this vacation as well – have a day at the beach should you choose, walk around the Malibu Country Mart, and have lunch or dinner at Nobu, Geoffrey’s, or Gladstones!
*please note whether or not they think they care about celebrity sightings, they won’t shut up over their excitement if they do find themselves around one. Malibu is a pretty great place to attempt said celebrity run-in, we were sat right next to Julia Roberts at Geoffrey’s and I swear these men died and went to heaven. Celebrity sightings = LA vacation made. Just sayin.
3. Take a Drive down Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, and through the hills to see the houses.
…you don’t want to walk on Hollywood Blvd, or Sunset, so save them from the idea as well, because trust me they’ll be sad. Unless they’re wearing matching ensembles, are donning cameras with lenses they have no idea how to use, and aren’t afraid of sad or cracked out people, I just wouldn’t suggest it. I worked on Hollywood Blvd for 3 years, I’ve seen it all and it ain’t pretty, or fun. But a DRIVE down said Boulevards would be just the ticket: they get the idea, they can say they’ve seen the Chinese Theater and all the venues on Sunset but they didn’t even have to get out of the car and walk around and encounter the weirdness happening on the streets.
*another thing foreigners don’t necessarily admit to is that they want to see the Hollywood homes. Well good news because us freakin too – it’s fun, it’s free, and it’s super easy to find said mega homes. Drive down Sunset heading west towards the beach, turn right up any street and ta-daaa prepare to wow your friends. If you wanna be really crazy get a celebrity homes map and drive around! It’s actually pretty fun – plus it gives us Angelenos something to aspire to owning someday. … I mean if that’s your thing n all, I’d personally like to own ANY kind of property here, but that rant is for another day.
4. Stop off for coffee, shopping, meandering, or lunch on some of our quaintest streets.
We’ve got a lot of “hidden gems” and “off the beaten path” places that foreigners could and would truly appreciate. When I traveled abroad, locals spots, quaint streets, places worthy of instagramming 100 pictures over, etc, were the kind of things I went looking for. We’ve got plenty of places like this to eat, shop, and gallivant around (in one condensed area) so show em why people actually love living in LA by taking them to areas like Larchmont, Abbot Kinney, Montana, 3rd Street, and even Sunset Junction or Culver Blvd. These are the places they’ll remember because they won’t find any chains or chotskies stores here, here they’ll find specialty boutiques, cafes, bakeries, and more of the stuff people curious about culture actually want to see and experience.
5. Get the whole gang cultured at any one of our awesome museums like the Getty, Getty Villa, and LACMA.
… or any museum of your choosing really but these happen to be our most spectacular with a variety of exhibits that come through regularly – aka even if you’ve been, you won’t be bored. The Getty is particularly magnificent, it’s got an incredibly impressive view of Los Angeles that is guaranteed to awe, a perfectly primped garden that everyone should see, and of course a plethora of phenomenal art to experience. LACMA is another one of those places very near and dear to our LA lovin hearts, I’ve never heard of anyone not enjoying the museum so hey, you’ve got that going for you. Maybe even try to catch a Jazz at LACMA show and REALLY show your guests something fun and unique about Los Angeles!
Take them downtown. Get a cocktail with a view at Perch, coffee and cuteness at Daily Dose or Blue Bottle, an epic meal at Church & State, Faith and Flower, Baco Mercat, or Fifty Seven LA.
For the super foodie adventurous type take them to have authentic Korean BBQ in K-town, or to any one of Roy Choi’s establishments (Pot, Chego, Kogi Truck, A-Frame, Alibi Room, etc), and/or to have Shabu Shabu (KaGaYa, Kushi, Shabu Shabuyo, etc) in Little Tokyo.
Two words: Mexican Food. Four syllables: margaritas. Where ever they live there’s a pretty good chance they don’t have the privilege of being able to order a burrito or tacos literally whenever they want so take em to your Mexican joint! Guisados, Mercado, Petty Cash, El Compadre, El Coyote, Border Grill, Amo, Guelaguetza, El Carmen, Loteria – and so on and so on.
Think special, think memorable, think only in LA. Your foreign friends (I say foreign in the most endearing way possible) will thank you and should you play tour guide, you probably won’t have a terrible time either.