Growing up in southern California, there were always too many cities to visit, too many restaurants to check out and ample selections of tourist attractions. In the midst of exploration, I rarely found the time to immerse myself in the beauty and culture of Los Angeles. The reason? I blame the L.A. traffic. No one wants to drive 20 miles in an hour. But this Thanksgiving weekend, rather than shopping on Black Friday, I made the trip to Los Angeles. There, I explored some of the classic, cliche tourist destinations and also visited some of the trendier “hipster” eateries.
First stop: Griffith Observatory. This tourist attraction is definitely a favorite of mine. I can go countless times and still appreciate its beauty. This gem is a free monument dedicated to public astronomy. I’d recommend visiting at night to see the gorgeous view of twinkling city lights. There are a few exhibits inside, but many families were sitting on the front lawns having picnics, enjoying the glamorous view of the Hollywood sign and selfie-sticking the fantastic view of the city.
Be sure to stop at Dinette for lunch. This cute cafe situated on Sunset Boulevard (and near Echo Park) is the perfect quick stop for a bite to eat. Just thinking about the avocado toast and poached eggs makes my mouth water, and the cardamom milk tea is a refreshing twist on a simple drink.
The Getty Center offers free admission. Sounds enticing, right? Too bad the parking is $15. Luckily, the Getty Center is well worth the $15 if you’re an amateur art lover like me. After parking, you ride the free tram up to the Getty Center, and as soon as you get off, you’re transported into another world. My favorite part is the landscaping in Robert Irwin’s Central Garden. There are more than 500 plant varieties, with the most interesting being the bougainvillea arbors.
Sul & Beans
After visiting the Getty Center, you’ll probably be hungry. Thankfully, the next two locations both hit the spot with a sweet dessert. Sul & Beans is in Koreatown. It’s a Korean dessert cafe that’s insanely tasty. The cafe is a little difficult to find as it lies in a hidden corner of a shopping center. My friend and I ordered the strawberry bingsoo. It’s a simple concept — shaved ice topped with strawberries, condensed milk and mochi (soft, sticky rice cake) — and we couldn’t get enough of it.
California Donuts creates the cutest donuts I’ve ever seen. My favorite is the oreo panda. But the tastiest donut was the matcha donut. This bakery has been hyped up a lot recently because its Instagrammability, and even though I’m no donut connoisseur, I thoroughly enjoyed my treats. As far as I’m concerned, they were fluffy and well-glazed.
I love any restaurant if there’s sushi involved. Ootoro, you make miso happy. This restaurant, located east of L.A., has the freshest sushi. I’d highly recommend making the trip out of downtown L.A. for this restaurant. I ordered the salmon ikura bowl, which was love at first sight. I personally love salmon sashimi, but the chirashi bowl (assorted sashimi) is equally tasty. My friend ordered the salmon skin salad, which I also loved.
Contact Omil Xia at [email protected].