LA, the city of Angels. After NYC, probably the city that most appeals to the imagination of a place, symbol of the American dream. Home of the good life, effortless style, toned people, iced matcha’s, kale, an iconic Venice beach and star studded Hollywood hills. Some of my fantasies are true, others are anything but a fraction of it. Let me put it this way, it’s a great place, but you gotta know your way around in LA. First thing to get around in LA is find yourself a car. I booked my rental car in advance at Sunny Cars and yet again, the convenience and ease of their service didn’t let me down. The booking is all inclusive, full insurance coverage and 24/7 support. Quite convenient because I’m the last person to read all the small details at the end of the contract after landing from a long flight. All you need to do is follow the directions by Sunny Cars to pick up the keys (they are actually a car rental broker and might redirect you to another local rental partner but they take care of everything) and then get yourself an iced matcha latte, cause you’ll be spending a lot of time in your car in LA.
I’ve spent a short week in LA. As I like to discover a city, I need to see the whole of the city in order to understand it. Ok, I could just take a local’s advise and limit my wanderings to Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Melrose, Malibu and West Hollywood. But that wouldn’t do justice to seeing and understanding LA. First of all, get yourself a rental car. It’s one of the most spread out cities I’ve been to. I’ve spent one month in Tokyo for example and if you plan your visits well, you can get around by bike and metro. Don’t even think about that in LA! From going shopping in Melrose Avenue and hitting the beach in Santa Monica later, takes about a 1h drive. Oh the traffic. It’s nice though, I kinda enjoy browsing places and streets from behind a rolled down car window. Visiting LA is basically more like a road trip instead of a city trip.
If someone would tell me to not go downtown LA because there’s nothing to see, I wouldn’t believe it. How could a city like LA not have an amazing city center? Well it doesn’t, to be honest, LA downtown is not exactly a happy place. It’s hard to grasp that a city like LA, home of so much wealth and stardom, has so much poverty and sadness. So yeah, it seems like everything happening in LA is outside downtown. If you do wanna go downtown, the Ace hotel is a really nice place where you can enjoy drinks from a beautiful rooftop bar. And that building’s facade might be your next instagram back drop.
One of my favorite streets is Melrose Avenue. It’s a long street with one cool shop after another. Walking from the unicorn ‘Pretty Little Thing’ shopping window till most instagrammed pink wall at Paul Smith, will take you on a nice tour along cool coffee bars and healthy food places. Alfred was my way to go, but Carrera Cafe is thè instagrammable corner and great for people watching. Don’t forget to wander around in the residential streets in Melrose. Life looks perfect over here.
After your shopping tour, just take one of the side streets towards the Santa Monica Mountains (the famous Hills) and head to Beverly Hills, one of the most beautiful districts of LA (it’s actually a city). Just driving along the boulevards, counting endless skinny palm trees and dream about the castle-like houses, is quite relaxing. Don’t forget to drive down Sunset Boulevard at your slowest pace and lurk to people from behind the steering wheel. It’s a thing. A lot of iconic old hotels are hidden along this famous street. Oh, don’t forget Mulholland drive. I’m obsessed with that street since the first time I watched Mulholland drive by David Lynch. Driving down that road at night gives a pretty good picture of the general tone of the movie. Mysterious, sinister and a bit odd. Or maybe it’s my imagination running too wild.
Manhattan Beach must be one of those places where locals hang. I prefer those kind of places than the extremely crowded Venice beach and Santa Monica. The sandy beach is long but narrow so it feels a lot more cosy and intimate to curl down in the sand on your towel. And you still get those oldskool surfer vibes from the colorful wooden houses. I especially love the vibe on Sunday. 8am and the streets are getting filled by people going for a run, walking out the dog or heading for a big cup of coffee. I have never seen people waking up this early on a Sunday for any of those reasons in Belgium of Europe. Such a social thing to do, love it.
When the city gets too bustling, you can just take the car down Hollywood and drive up to the Griffith Observatory for a good hike up the hills. You’ll see the Hollywood signs from up there and the sunset over the city is just crazy beautiful. There is something really mystical about the Observatory there, you have to go to get a feeling of its beauty.
The sweetest escape from LA is where temperature is peaking up to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s only a 2h drive from LA and will give you completely different Cali vibes. Driving through the desert, you’ll pass through incredible landscapes and oddities along the way like the Cabazon dinosaurs. Definitely do the door traits tour of the famous modernist houses, chill at the Ace hotel and just let the heat kick in. Time slows down in this place, so just relax.
I hope you enjoyed my tour in LA. I surely did thanks to Sunny Cars. It’s really the easiest car rental company. Everything is booked and arrange in advance, no need to wait at the rental desk and go through all the legal stuff and contracts. You literally pick up the keys at the desk and you’re ready to go.