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GreenTomato

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About GreenTomato

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  1. GreenTomato

    Suggestions for visiting L.A.?

    Advice for places to see in LA: Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier can be seen in a day, rent bikes and ride along the beach look at that crazy people in Venice, hang out on the Santa Monica Pier and ride the ferris wheel or roller coaster. The Getty is free and has some good art, some Van Gogh, Manet, Rembrandt, but is also known for amazing views of the city and the ocean from the grass lawn, bring food and have a picnic on the lawn. The Getty Villa is also free but probably not worth going to if you are from Europe, it has a lot of ancient greek and roman statues but nothing mind-blowing, you can see more in a below-average European museum. Kind of random, but there is a place called the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine on the west side near Santa Monica, that is free. They do meditation and religious services there, but anyone can just walk in and look around, it's a pretty cool serene beautiful place. La Brea Tar Pits/LACMA. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is pretty expensive, especially if you pay for the special exhibit, but it has some good art. The La Brea Tar Pits however are on the same property and completely free to look at, and are kind of unique. Next to the tar pits is a different museum called the Page Museum, where they have ice age animals on display that they pulled out of the tar pits such as wooly mammoth, giant sloths, saber tooted tigers, and dire wolves. Hollywood is kind of a tourist trap with a wax museum, several tiki-themed bars with drink specials and horrible food, and a ton of homeless beggars and drunk assholes at night. There is some cool stuff to see though, everyone of course wants to see the walk of fame and the hand/foot prints in front of the Chinese Theatre, stop and see it but you can be done with that in an hour and move on with your day. Go across the street to the historic Roosevelt Hotel and have a drink by the tropicana pool bar, or just walk around and look at the place. Go to Yamashiro, a japanese-style mansion once owned by a hollywood producer but it's now a sushi restaurant/bar on top of a hill overlooking the city. There are beautiful views there from the gardens around the restaurant, and you don't need to eat at the restaurant or spend any money to walk around and take in the views. There is a night market there every thursday night and a shuttle that goes up the hill to it, it would be a kind of long walk uphill. If you want to see the Hollywood Sign, it's a few hours hike, but great way to see the city. I would recommend walking there from the Griffith Park Observatory, which is also worth seeing. There is a shuttle to the observatory from the Sunset/Vermont Metro Rail Station on the red line only a few stops away from Hollywood. The only Thai Town in the United States is located in the Hollywood area. Incredible food and worth checking out. Sanamluang is a great late night restaurant and affordable. Taco Trucks and taco stands are everywhere in LA, and most of them are pretty good, some are obviously better than others. But I highly recommend trying some great tacos, order some al pastor (pork) from the rotation spit, or carne asada steak, or carnitas (pork). If you see a taco truck or stand with people standing around it, try it. They are normally one of the cheapest places to eat. Tacos should cost between $1 and $1.50 each. Normally 3 or 4 would be enough to make you full. Every taco stand also has free sauces and veggies like pickled carrots and grilled jalapeno. There should be plastic sandwich bags for the vegetables, and tiny plastic containers for the sauces. Koreatown in LA is between Hollywood and downtown, you need to get Korean BBQ. One of the least expensive but quality places is Castle BBQ which is only $11 for all you can eat. As long as you finish what's on your grill you can ask them for more and they keep bringing it out until you can't eat anymore. There are lots of little side dishes too so it's not just meat. Highly recommend. If you want a more korean experience, try Dan Sung Sa, it's not all you can eat, but it has lots of affordable small dishes like meat or vegetable skewers, kimchee hand rolls, and cheap korean light beer like Hite and Kloud. Downtown is a strange place, that will get mixed reviews from a lot of Angelenos, some people hate it and say it's dirty, or too many homeless, but those who know downtown's secrets are magically rewarded with beautiful rooftop bars like Perch, or free concerts in the Pershing Square. The Downtown Art Walk happens the second Thursday of every month and is a good time to see downtown if you are here then. Downtown is perfectly safe as long as you stay where all the big buildings are. If you walk east of the big buildings (east of Los Angeles street) you will venture into a very unsafe neighborhood called Skid Row. Don't go there. Otherwise you will be perfectly safe in downtown. Little Tokyo/Arts District is northeast of downtown though, and that area is safe and fun with lots of breweries and restaurants. Norton Simon Museum is small and in Pasadena so maybe a 45 minute transit ride from downtown, but has great pre-and post renaissance paintings. Pasadena is a nice clean city though, so maybe you can take the metro rail gold line up there and make a day out of it. Huntington Gardens is up near there and is very popular, it's a huge place and considered the best in the area to see a wide variety of rare plant species. Malibu is highly recommended for a change of pace from the city. It's a rural coastal area 27 miles of coastline, with lots of empty beaches, mountains that drop right down next to the ocean, and beautiful expensive homes on the side of the cliffs. There are buses that go to Malibu from the Santa Monica area, but would be a full day to go there and back, I still recommend it though. El Matador State beach has sea caves and rock formations. There are a few different fresh seafood restaurants, such as The Reel Inn and Malibu Seafood that have great fresh-caught fish and crabs. Go to Moonshadows and have a drink on their outdoor patio that sits right above the ocean. They have a DJ with music and celebrity sightings at night. Other beaches to visit besides Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu, are the south bay beaches of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. They are generally a little cleaner and way less touristy-than other LA county beaches. And Orange County beaches are a long way away and would require you to get a hotel in the area, but are even cleaner and less touristy with lots of beautiful sights to see. Laguna Beach is probably the most beautiful beach in SoCal. Laguna is like Beverly Hills by the ocean. Other touristy stuff that's expensive though, like Universal Studios (You could just take the red line to Universal City and walk around it for free though, it's like an outdoor mall), Six Flags which is hardcore adult roller coasters and amusement park about an hour drive north of the city, Disneyland, which is super expensive (I think $120 each for adults?) and is about 1-2 hours drive south of LA in Orange County. Let me know if you have any other questions. Have fun!!
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