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Late December - car and suggestions

14 posts
Late December - car and suggestions
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Would like to go somewhere that's not cold later this month for vacation and thinking of LA.

If I drive (my car, not rental), can people recommend safe areas generally where I could park my car and then just uber around to get to things? Ok to leave it in the hotel parking lot if the area isn't bad? I might be being paranoid, but my goal is to minimize break-in risk or theft.

For things to do, not interested in Hollywood, Disney or the tourist stuff. Looking for off the beaten path more interesting things to check out.

Some ideas I have (recommendations welcome):

- Nice cigar lounges in the city (preferably with a long bar)

- Live music (preferably jazz/jazz clubs), bonus if there is a open jam session night where I could sit in and play

- Good restaurants that I can reserve a table same day. Any type of food, just looking for gems with quality cuisine that aren't too hard to get into, price doesn't matter. Bonus if it's unique to LA (please, no chains)

- ???

-

Edited: 04 December 2023, 21:43
11 replies to this topic
Fremont, California
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1. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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A good jazz club is Vibrato Jazz

https://www.vibratogrilljazz.com/

14 posts
2. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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Thanks. I also noticed the LA Phil has some good programs later in December (I thought they'd be playing nothing but Jingle Bells and Sleigh ride programs this time of year, so bonus!).

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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"I might be being paranoid, but my goal is to minimize break-in risk or theft." You said it. We didn't!

" Looking for off the beaten path more interesting things to check out." Could you say more about this? L.A. has hundreds of attractions -- big and small, famous and not-so-famous. Disneyland, btw, isn't even in Los Angeles; it's in the City of Anaheim in a different county to the one in which L.A. is located. So, we all agree that there is a lot more to L.A. than the 'touristy attractions'.

If you tell us the TYPES of attractions that interest you, we can make recommendations. Are you interested in 'natural beauty' (mountains/valleys/beaches, etc), man-made beauty (architecture), culture (there are over 150 districts in L.A. including large cultural enclaves like L.A.'s largest district, Koreatown, which has the 3rd-largest assemblage of Koreans in the world), athletic pursuits (surfing lessons, horseback riding, hiking, etc), museums (there are 100+ of these -- from hilltop art museums (2 of them) to museums about ancient 'tar pits', florescent lighting, discrimination, cars, various ethnic cultures, Science, plants (gardens), history (of all kinds), animals, military history/equipment, etc, etc,).

Here is a list of several hundred attractions to get you started. Click on the link and SCROLL DOWN to the numbered list of attractions:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g32655-Activities-oa0-Los_Angeles_California.html

(Click on the name of an attractions for more info about it). After attraction #30, click on the right-arrow for 30 more.

The attractions at the top of the list are the most popular. As you move down the list, the attractions are less well-known.

I can't recommend a cigar lounge (I'm sure others will jump in) but L.A. has lots of jazz clubs. A couple that come to mind are: The Catalina Bar & Grill in central Hollywood and the Baked Potato (in the northern part of Hollywood across the freeway from Universal Studios). Great baked potatoes (and music!)

As far as restaurants that you can book 'same day', I'm one of the few people that rarely makes reservations and I have no issues getting a table anywhere I go. Part of that is because I don't go to trendy restaurants. (I avoid restaurants owned by celebrities, for example). It sounds like you're thinking of heading to L.A. around Christmas. It might be difficult to make a last-minute reservation on some of those days but give us an idea of the part of the city in which you'll be staying and the type of food that you like. I'm sure we can all make recommendations for you.

Hunter Valley...
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4. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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You can drive around LA and park easily enough. I’ve never had so much as a scratch on my rental over many trips parking in many places on the street, in shopping malls or parking lots.

Beverly Grove has a lot of great local dining options. It’s often mentioned on these forums but isn’t a tourist Mecca as there aren’t a lot of hotels in the area. For a different view of LA, go to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Grand Crntral Market isn’t full of tourists, neither is Koreatown but I’d get advice from the locals on that. Lake Hollywood Park is pleasant even if it’s to see the Hollywood sign. Then Griffith Park has plenty of non touristy areas to explore and hike besides the Observatory. Things like the Old LA Zoo and Fern Dell track.

If you do like hiking, plenty of those in the Santa Monica Mountains behind Malibu and Angeles National Forest.

Edited: 04 December 2023, 22:20
California
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5. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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Where are you coming from? Where you live helps us understand how familiar you are with California and/or LA and/or big cities in general

14 posts
6. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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Driving in from out of state, so not familiar with LA at all. The types of things I'm looking for are: just not tourist stuff.

Just to sort of summarize my thinking and interests:

- Cigar lounge as mentioned - social places to have a stogie with good fine whiskies

- Music: Jazz/Classical, jam sessions would be cool to check out if anyone knows of any

- Food: Heard all about LA Food scene - want to sample some of the good stuff/gems

- Hiking/outdoors/scenic driving: Love outdoors and mountains - if there are some good bang for your buck hikes with panoramic views in the mountains (the higher altitude the better), then would be interested in those as well.

I don't know where to stay in LA and will bounce around as needed to be within Uber distance of the attractions above (or whatever else is suggested). Thanks for the recs so far.

Edited: 04 December 2023, 23:16
14 posts
7. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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Also, have no idea if there is a"bar hopping" area or areas around town, but since I'll be uber-ing, that might be fun. I'm middle-aged, so not looking for anything silly or just "college bars" or "sports bars". Places that are sociable, good drink list, not bombarded with rave or loud music would work.

Edited: 04 December 2023, 23:21
California
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8. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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I'm not good with vague, I'm sure someone else will make recommendations, but if you can't even tell me where you are coming from I'm not sure I can give you good enough ideas to be useful. I don't know how well you know cities and safety and if LA will be warm enough for you.

Good luck on your trip, I'm sure it will be amazing.

14 posts
9. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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It'll be warm enough - I'm just trying to get away from below freezing temps and snow, so the bar is pretty low - just not freezing and miserable will do it; I checked weather websites/forecasts for LA and weather looks perfect. I've lived in some cities - I assume there are bad areas (skid row etc) I should just avoid and don't go down unpopulated areas late at night etc.

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Late December - car and suggestions
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I'll take a stab at filling in your itinerary....

I've addressed the cigar lounge and jazz music in my previous posting. The primary classical music venue in L.A. is the Disney Concert Hall but there are a lot of holiday concerts happening around the time of your visit.

The L.A. food scene is immense so it's hard to pick one place over another but I'll mention some random ideas:

L.A. is a melting pot of cultures.

1. There are 150+ districts here and the largest one is Koreatown which is the third-largest clustering of Korean people in the world. You'll want to have some Korean food while you're here.

2. Similarly, the city has a huge Latin-American population so be sure to have some Mexican, Salvadorean, Colombian, Peruvian, etc food.

3. There are districts featuring Japanese Food (the Little Tokyo sub-district of downtown L.A. as well as the Sawtelle District on the west side of the city), Filipino Food (historic filipino town), Thai Food (Thai Town), Middle Eastern Food (Armenian food in 'Little Armenia' and in the City of Glendale, Persian Food in Tehrangeles or Little Persia (the Westwood area of L.A.), Vietnamese 'Pho' cuisine (throughout L.A.), etc, etc.

4. There are food trucks that serve some of these types of food and they are scattered throughout the metro area.

As you can see, L.A. is vast and varied so once you have an idea of where you want to stay in L.A. (which can be more than one location), we can make recommendations as to where to dine for each of the types of dining, above.

I, too, am a big fan of the Beverly Grove area (as mentioned by another poster) as it is not touristy and centrally-located but there isn't much in the way of bars in this area (except for the bars in restaurants and hotels and just a few 'stand alone' ones. That's not to say that you couldn't take a ride-share to another district for drinks, of course.

An area that might appeal to you for drinks and dining is the Los Feliz District. This is in the NE section of the central portion of L.A. (not terribly far from downtown L.A. and located at the foot of Griffith Park with the Griffith Observatory looming overhead). The nightlife there is laid out along 2 parallel streets (each about 4 blocks in length). The two streets are about a 10 minute walk from one another, btw, but it's easy to walk from one to the other or to take a 1 or 2-minute ride-share I suppose.

Before I forget, Bar Covell is at the foot of the smallish district on Hollywood Bl between the two aforementioned streets (which are Vermont Av & Hillhurst Av). This is a wine/beer bar that is 'cigar friendly' and the opposite of touristy or loud.

Within the district is a smattering of some unique dining/drinking. For Mexican, there are Tu Madre (a cocktail bar specializing in tacos) and 1 block north on Hillhurst is Seabirds a VEGAN Mexican restaurant (that's right: Mexican food with non-dairy cheese!). There are Italian restaurants and a Brazilian Bar, American Fare, Gastropubs, etc, etc. One of my faves, there, is the Alcove Cafe and Bakery which is situated in a 100 year old house with most meals served in one of the three yards. They have a bar, a restaurant and a bakery all together. This is a popular place, especially on the weekends.

For hiking, you've come to the right place. There is SO MUCH to choose from, depending on what you want to look at and what level of difficulty you're looking at. Where to begin...

Griffith Park (which has 11 major attractions including the Observatory and the Zoo) has a dozen or so hiking trails, most of which are easy to moderate in nature. There are hikes from a little bit north of the Fern Dell entrance (which features something called 'Fern Dell' (which is a dell -- a small valley packed with plants/ferns). Once you find the Trails Cafe, cross the road, walk through the play-area and you'll see a canyon in front of you with the Observatory above.

The trail on the left is of medium-difficulty in places. Not only is it steep at times but there are lots of little pebbles/sand that can be slippery, especially if you're heading down the trail. If you plan to wear sneakers rather than hiking boots, I wouldn't recommend hiking down on this trail unless you've got great balance/agility.

The main trail to the right has the gentlest ascent. Both of these trails meet at the rear of the canyon and there is an onward trail 'to the top' that peels off to the right. It is steep for the 10-minute ascent.

For the most challenging hike, there is an ultra-steep hike that forks off of the right-hand trail mentioned above. Its trail head is right at the beginning of this right-hand trail and it heads off 'into the hills' at the right. All three of these will take about 30 minutes to ascend.

From the Observatory, there are onward trails to the summit as well as to the observation area above and behind the Hollywood sign. (The top half of the sign is visible from this area and is in reverse). The top of the summit hike (about 30 minutes) offers great views of the city.

For views of the Ocean, I like Los Liones Trail in the Pacific Palisades district of L.A. (on the west side, of course, since that is where the ocean is). Nearby this trail head is something called SRF (self-realization fellowship) Lake Shrine which is a true oasis in a big city. It's free to visit but you must make a reservation. Their website seems 'cultish' but it's not!

One of the most scenic drives would be along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) but you would want to do that in your own car rather than a ride share for a number of reasons. You can also drive along Mulholland Drive which is the ridge line of the Hollywood Hills/Santa Monica Mountains. This road is curvy and narrow in places and there is often no guard rail between you and the city below. I wouldn't recommend driving a long distance on Mulholland but you might want to drive up one of the canyon roads like Laurel Canyon Bl, turn left onto Mulholland, stop to look at the view and then head back into the city along Coldwater Canyon Av.

I looked at your other threads and if you compare the mountains here with those in AZ or UT, you're going to be disappointed. Arches isn't even in the same category as the Parks in southern California. Humphrey's Peak in AZ is 12K feet tall; the Central Uinta peaks in UT are 13K+ feet. The tallest peak in the Santa Monica mountains is 3000 feet.

The San Gabriel Mountains (which are NE of Los Angeles) are taller (10K feet or so). Depending on your available time, you could explore this mountain range.

Happy Planning!

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