10 Things One San Franciscan Likes About Los Angeles

by Ekua on November 28, 2011 in California,listastic,why i travel

In the vast and varied country of the United States, fellow residents tend to misunderstand each other as much as they have a tendency to misunderstand the world beyond. It’s disconcerting to see how many people form concrete opinions of other places based on very little knowledge of and experience in those places.

I discovered my own habit of doing this during my travels to the South. I’ve had enlightening experiences there where found that I liked that part of the country more than I imagined I would. I realized that my negative opinions on it were based on stereotypes, politics, and history rather than personal experiences with the current people and places.

Recently, I’ve also eased up on Los Angeles. In California, there is a little tiff between SoCal and NorCal, and more specifically between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s a microcosm of larger issues in the country and in the world and while it’s not detrimental, it can be petty and counterproductive.

While there are still stereotypical and true characteristics of Los Angeles that I don’t like, I’ve found many other things to appreciate about it. I’ve accepted the city for what it is and opened myself up to discovering its more awesome aspects, and that has been a good thing.

Here’s a collection of things that have made me happy on my recent visits to Los Angeles:

» Warm Weather

I love San Francisco, but its weather is not the jam. It has its hotter times, but it tends to hover around highs of 60 degrees Fahrenheit year round, give or take about 10 degrees. I actually prefer to be in warmer climates and I’m not a fan of bundling up. LA is more capable of making these partialities feasible. When I go there, I can pack light and give myself a break from restrictive outerwear.

» The Diverse Array of Cultures

Los Angeles goes far beyond the typical subsections of American cities. There is Koreatown, Thai Town, Little Ethiopia, a sizable population of Hasidic Jews, and areas that make me feel like I’m in Mexico. As a fan of traveling, I really appreciate this cultural mix up all in one location.

» Food

The awesome weather combined with people from all over the world make for an excellent food culture in Los Angeles. There are year round farmers markets everywhere and an abundance of international restaurants and food trucks. There is often an emphasis on food that’s produced locally with respect for the environment and the people who will consume it.

» The Laid Back Atmosphere

Something I noticed on a trip to LA last year is that people there give off an air of being on vacation in their own town. I really enjoy the very city-like energy and feel of San Francisco, but I appreciate the more relaxed nature of LA as well. It’s a nice break from my typical surroundings.

» Hiking to the Hollywood Sign at Sunset

This was the highlight of my most recent trip to Los Angeles. The day after Thanksgiving, we got off to a late start on this hike, but it turned out to be great timing. The lighting was gorgeous on the way up, and when we reached the top, we had a 360 degree view of the Los Angeles and beyond, all aglow in sunset light.

» LACMA

Last summer, I had an afternoon to myself where I happened to be within walking distance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and it happened to be a free entrance day. I decided to take advantage of that. LACMA is impressive before you even walk in; there is a wonderful light sculpture at the entrance. Once you’re inside, there is an amazing collection of art from around the world. The exhibits are presented in a way that really enhances the art and gives you a sense of the periods and places they come from. The curation at LACMA is artistic excellence in itself.

» Day Trips to Santa Monica

Santa Monica is such an interesting place. With the beach, the boardwalk, the Third Street Promenade, and surf city atmosphere, it’s the California of a lot of people’s dreams. But there is also a very apparent desperate and gritty side to it. These aspects combined make for a truthful dose of Americana.

» Secondhand Shopping

When I’ve gone secondhand shopping in LA, I’ve found some good stuff, I think partly because styles change so quickly and people often get rid of barely worn items. If you’re not caught up in following trends closely, there is good stuff to be found. Beyond the shops, last summer I came across the Melrose Trading Post, a hipstery weekly flea market that has all kinds of little treasures that reflect many different periods of LA. I saw wacky furniture, vintage travel and movie posters, tons of antique knickknacks, and some great jewelry.

» Strange and Passionate People

Venice Beach has its fair share of the LA counterculture, but there are a lot of unique individuals throughout the city. It’s a city that attracts people from all over the country, a lot of them with personalities that were probably too large for Small Town, USA. While there are a lot of people in Los Angeles chasing vacuous and vague dreams of stardom, there are plenty more who may still be enticed by stardom, but have a true love and passion for their art. Los Angeles and San Francisco seem to be equally full of people who are endearingly odd and steadfast about expressing themselves.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Herbster November 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

I have an aversion to NY and LA/SoCal that is based on mass humanity. For some reason, SF does not do that to me, maybe all the surrounding water gives it space. Not rational. I know. Just curious, what keeps you in chilly San Fran and how long was the hike to the sign?

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Ekua November 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I think that San Francisco is actually more crowded than Los Angeles which leads to a more city-like atmosphere. When I’m in LA, I feel like I am in a massive suburb with elements of a city mixed in. In addition to the water, I think maybe you feel the way you do because of the smallness of it and the way public green spaces are more incorporated in everyday life here.

In San Francisco, it can be pretty foggy and chilly for a good chunk of the year so that’s why I’m colder than I would like to be. Obviously, I love this city enough to deal with and it’s nothing compared to Seattle 😉

I didn’t keep track of when we left for the hike and when we returned. We also started well before the parking lot where most people begin their walk! We definitely walked for a few hours, and it probably took longer because of people in the group walking at different paces and me stopping to take pictures often!

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Marsha November 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I’ve only visited LA once many years ago and I hated it! All I remember was the ghetto and lots of smoggy air. Seems I wasn’t looking in the right place, lol! Your post is definitely making me reconsider LA as a potential trip destination.

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Ekua November 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

It’s taken me years to get to this point! I’d say that really helps to know people in LA who’ve been there for awhile so you can get a local perspective on things. The smog is insane at time, but I have to say that it probably enhanced the sunset at the Hollywood sign…

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Jackie November 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I grew up in Los Angeles and I think you’ve captured all of its best sides! I prefer San Francisco myself…maybe that’s because it’s newer and more different to me since I haven’t lived there for an extended period of time. It also feels much more like a real city than Los Angeles does. If you ever go back you should check out Watts Towers…not in the best neighborhood, but the people working there were so incredibly nice and knowledgable, and the work itself is UNBELIEVABLE.

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Ekua November 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Ooo, this is good to hear from an LA native! It’s funny that you mentioned the Watts Towers. Around this time last week, I looked up fun and cheap things to do in LA. That came up and I really wanted to go because it looks like an amazing spot for photography. I didn’t make it over there this time, but hopefully I’ll get a chance on another trip down there.

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Marie December 9, 2011 at 7:52 am

That sky, you can’t beat that sky!

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California Native May 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

As a California Native, I have to say – we live in a pretty spectacular state with so many unique settings and cities, and enough diversity to accept anything and everyone! From Northern California to Southern California, from the deserts and mountains, to the Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean – we have it all!

Great article –
California Native

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Ekua May 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Yeah, there’s definitely a lot to appreciate about this state. I think because we have it all, people grow attached to their corner of the state, and sometimes forget how amazing it is to live in this one big place that has so many amazing components and is larger than a lot of countries out there.

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alex December 15, 2012 at 5:10 am

Thanks for giving LA a chance! I didn’t realize there was so much animosity between the cities until I met numerous people from SF this year traveling that told me about it.

Every city has it’s good and bad side. I’m glad you were open about looking past our “stereotypes” and seeing the good side of LA 🙂 Thanks!

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Ekua December 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Yeah, I think sometimes it can be a one-sided thing with San Franciscans turning their noses up at Los Angeles 😛 But LA is huge and has many faces. I think it definitely helps to explore with someone who knows the city and to stay far, far away from the tourist spots. My sister no longer lives there and I miss those trips now!

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