By Monique Dias
The Getty Museum
Easily one of the most beautiful places in Los Angeles, the Getty Museum sits atop a hill right off of the 405 freeway. A tram takes you from the parking structure to the actual museum. Once there, you can explore several multistory buildings full of paintings, photography, sculpture and furniture, spanning several centuries. When you need a break, head outdoors and walk the grounds. The architecture and gardens are absolutely stunning, all of which are surrounded by some of the best views of Los Angeles. Admission is free, but parking is not. So load up your car with friends and split the cost.
Location: Downtown LA
Chinatown is a bit of a secret from the outside. Typical bland LA buildings make up much of the border, but once you get out of your car and start venturing on foot, you can begin to see the gem that is Chinatown. You could easily spend a day or two exploring all of the interesting shops and delicious foods (I personally recommend getting dim sum at the Golden Dragon Restaurant). Best part is that you can do a lot for not a lot of cash.
Santa Monica Pier
Location: Santa Monica
Santa Monica Pier is a mandatory stop for any tourist. Ride the ferris wheel or play some carnival games. Hang out on the beach or grab a Hot Dog on a Stick. Head over to the aquarium or check out some of the street performers. Then, once you’re tired of the beach, walk a few blocks up to the 3rd Street Promenade for some shopping and entertainment. Santa Monica Pier is definitely not short on activities. It’s a great place to take a friend who is visiting from out of town, or just to hang out. There are some great bars in the area.
Griffith Park and Observatory
Location: Los Feliz
If the outdoors is your thing, then be sure to head over to Griffith Park. This massive park spans from Los Feliz to the Valley. Hiking, picnicking, camping and horseback riding are just a few of the activities the park has to offer. The Observatory is free; however, if you want to catch a planetarium show, you’ll have to throw down a few bucks. On your way out, be sure to grab a quick lunch and a cup of coffee at The Trails Café.
Venice Beach is the chilled out version of Santa Monica Pier. It offers great little beach shops, awesome (and affordable) eateries, bars, bike and skate paths, basketball courts, tennis courts – you name it. However great these things are, the best is by far the people watching. The diverse population and relaxed vibe makes it a fun place to spend a mellow afternoon.