This post explores the many reasons to love Los Angeles, California.
For years, I have witnessed how people criticise Los Angeles. It seems fashionable to whip with anger the second largest city in the United States.
In some way, I can understand the discomforting feelings. People plan forever a visit the ‘City of Angeles’ and, then, end up visiting the overhyped touristic attractions in the area: Hollywood (filthy), Venice Beach (stinky), Beverly Hills (boring), thematic parks (generic) and the Santa Monica beaches (meh). As an additional blow, people end up sitting two hours on the freeway to get to the other side of town while surrounded by a thick layer of smog or traumatized by police officers chasing bandits (we are used to high-speed persecutions on TV).
As a long time resident, I have taken the effort to get to know Los Angeles on a different level. The result? I have fallen in love with the area where I live and am not ashamed to recognize I have discovered the awesome side of the city.
In here, I invite you to take a look at Los Angeles from my perspective.
Before proceeding with the list, let me make some clarifications. I don’t claim we have the perfect city (what city is perfect anyway?). The facts presented in here may not be unique to Los Angeles but they are important to me. For comprehensiveness purposes, I am going to be considering the entire Los Angeles County.
Without further ado, here are 20 reasons why I love Los Angeles.
Yes, we are big. Los Angeles County is more populous than 42 individual states (don’t tell me that number doesn’t blow your mind).
Ohh, and that only means one thing: we live in one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet. It is incredible how much you can learn when you are surrounded by people of 140 countries speaking 86 languages.
My last work assignment was formed by a team consisting of a Persian, an India, a Croatian and a Puerto Rican (me). That was probably one of the more pleasing experiences in my life.
I am happy to say diversity and food are like lovers in a mad affair. One cannot exist without the other.
The high numbers of immigrants have converted the city into an eating and dining empire. My neighborhood, which is several miles away from the core, is close to Brazilian, Jamaican and Japanese hubs. A month wouldn’t be enough to try all the cuisines represented within a ten miles radius.
In Los Angeles County, you can find the biggest variety of Chinese ethnic food (San Gabriel Valley) in the United States, the only Thai Town in the country (East Hollywood) and more than 20 ethnic neighborhoods.
But Los Angeles is not only about ethnic food, it is a paradise for those in search of fine dining and fresh ingredients. World-renowned chef open restaurants in the city all the time (and talented newcomers too).
3. Arts and Cultures
It has been said that Los Angeles has no culture, or history, or soul. I don’t understand where that thinking comes from.
Do you know who the general director of the Los Angeles Opera is? The entity is directed by world-renowned tenor Placido Domingo. Gustavo Dudamel is the director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Frank Gehry is a long time resident of the city. It is estimated that there are 300 museums in the County and more than 100 accredited colleges and universities.
A little bit of research points to all the contributions the city has made in the literature, entertainment, music, art, architecture, and popular culture areas.
I have to admit I once said the beaches in California were horrible. Nowadays, I regret those ignorant statements.
It sounds impossible not to have a pretty beach within 75 miles of coastline. The gorgeous beaches exist but you have to go to Malibu or to the Palos Verdes Peninsula to find them (see photos below). Now, the temperature of the water is another story.
5. Island Paradise
Talking about beaches, do you know two offshore islands are part of Los Angeles County? One of those islands is inhabited (San Clemente) but the other, Santa Catalina, is located only 22 miles from Downtown and has a population of about 4,000.
The views and beaches on this island are some of the most beautiful I have seen. I am not making this up. This place is gorgeous. A trip here should be at the top of the list of any visitor. I am on a mission to return soon.
6. National Parks
I cannot forget to mention the fact that we are located very close to two National Parks (Channel Islands and Joshua Tree). Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, and Pinnacles are not located that far either (200 – 300 miles). I find amusing the opportunity we have to visit some of nature’s most amazing sites.
It sounds ironic but the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is busiest from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. That is when red eye flights depart to Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The airport offers direct flights to about 90 domestic cities and 60 international destinations. Therefore, if you live in Los Angeles, you are only hours away from the other side of the world.
8. Local Gateways
If you drive about a 100 miles north of Los Angeles, you are going to find yourself surrounded by the Spanish revival splendor of Santa Barbara. Drive the same amount of miles but in the opposite direction and you will be hanging around the trendy neighborhoods of San Diego. There is also an option to drive east and be involved by the glamour of Palm Springs and the Desert Resorts.
Cities located close to Los Angeles are full of treasures waiting to be discovered. And it is not only the ‘big’ cities. There are several spots in between worth a stop. So, you don’t need a lot of time or effort to change of environment or enjoy yourself in a completely different sense.
Detractors of Los Angeles love to describe the location of the city as a desert. The fact is that parts of Los Angeles County can be considered desert basins. However, that doesn’t mean we live in a bare, flat, nightmarish area.
Los Angeles has mountain ranges (Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains), deep valleys, forests (part of Angeles and Los Padres National Forests), lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. That converts the area into a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and overall outdoors enthusiasts.
10. New Activities to Try
Recently, I was planning a visit to a decent-sized East Coast city. I searched for things to do in several daily deal sites (Groupon, Living Social). I was appalled by the lack of options.
I don’t want to sound snobbish but the plethora of options in the Los Angeles area may have ruined me forever. In here, you have the option to try activities that range from the traditional (cooking classes, bowling, bike rentals) to the unusual (aerial arts, krav maga, jetpack-flight lessons). In other words, there is no reason to be bored around here.
11. Events Every Week
Maybe I am over killing a trend in here but I think events are on a different level.
It is impossible to have a comprehensive list of all the festivals (literary, ethnical, culinary, etc), fair, parades, shows, tours, openings and special exhibitions that take place in Los Angeles every week.
The great thing is that you may have plans to visit a place but end up bumping into a wonderful event full of food, artistic demonstrations, and unique characters. How I love those change of plans!
12. Small City Feel
I understand some people are not enthusiastic about living in big cities. That is why the simple mention of a place like Los Angeles makes them cringe.
There is an alternative way to look at this humongous city issue. Consider Los Angeles County has 88 incorporated cities (plus census-designated places and unincorporated areas). Some of these cities are focused on small community values and high-quality standards of living.
I love to live in a place that feels like a small town but with quick access to all the positive aspects of a big metropolis.
13. Metro System
I have already acknowledged how brutal the traffic is in Los Angeles. Since I am used to moving around my serene pocket of the County with ease, I have techniques to beat the traffic when I want to get closer to the big city.
When I feel like walking around Downtown, Hollywood or the Arts District, I jump in the Metro. Wait. Are you telling me Los Angeles has massive transportation systems? Of course, it does. I don’t know why this fact is not seen as a given due to the size of the city.
So, remember. Public transportation (including trains) can move you around for a decent price. In that way, you don’t have to deal with the craziness of the freeway, huge parking fees and potholes (I am looking at you Koreatown).
14. Southern Neighbor
Before you people jump over me, yes, San Diego beat us on this one. Anyway, I need to include this.
We have a gorgeous southern neighbor (Mexico) waiting for us with open arms. In recent years, the area close to the San Diego border has become a gastronomic hotspot. That means we can wake up early any day, hop to the other side, pig out to our heart ’s content and sleep in our beds that same night.
Ok, I know it is easier to do this from San Diego but let’s not overcomplicate things. Stop in San Diego too. In this case, every eating stop matters.
This is the most well-known argument to exalt the goodness of Los Angeles. For that reason, I am not going to get extensive on this. I leave you with the following fact: average yearly high temperature, 75 degrees Fahrenheit (LOL!).
Now, on the funny side …
I should learn more about surfing. My head spins out of control when friends use terms such as barrel or hack shack.
Los Angeles County may not be seen as a wave riding haven but Surfrider Beach (Malibu), has achieved the status of legend in surfing circles.
The right break on the beach is widely recognized by surfers all over the world and has contributed to the elevation of surfing as a sport. The spot is so highly regarded that in 2010 it was declared the first World Surfing Reserve (by an organization aiming to protect global surf areas). Hmmm, I think Los Angeles knows a thing or two about surfing.
17. Each Freeway has a Personality
There is a saying stating the following: “If you can’t fight against the enemy, join him.”
In this city, the number one public enemy is traffic. Residents know this is not a situation that is going to dissipate like haze. Therefore, we deal with it in a very psychologically healthy way: we personificate our freeways.
Each freeway has its own character. We know how they change moods during the day and we show more love to some of them. And we don’t call them route, interstate or expressway. We use the article ‘the’ followed by the number.
Don’t call it crazy. It is a way to tame the enemy.
Not sure if you have heard but the burger wars are being fought at full force around here. Crowd favorite, madly packed In-N-Out is having some serious competition nowadays.
We have the Original Tommy’s, Five Guys, The Habit, The Counter, Umami Burger and all those glorious burgers sold on unassuming diners. Some guys are selling half bacon/half beef patties (oh snap!). Others are smearing their creations with goat cheese and Asian condiments. If you love burgers, this is the place to be.
19. Lack of Dressing Codes
Factors such as weather and laid back atmosphere create care-free professional dressing codes. It is not uncommon to see people wearing shorts, flip-flops, caps or yoga pants at the office. I am used to seeing my coworkers walking around barefoot. At least, you are not pressured to hide who you are around here.
Since I am talking about Los Angeles, I have to end this article with a touch of insanity.
A silver, blue and yellow blimp (Good Year) takes the skies almost every day. Even though I have seen the vehicle moving around hundreds of times, I still smile every time I see him (descents are the coolest). Hope to get on it one day (seems to be by invitation only).
The list can go on forever. Here are some aspects friends have mentioned.
Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)
Art Deco Architecture
Flowers Blooming in Spring
Close to the Snow in Winter
Pink’s (please guys, this is serious)
More of Los Angeles
Check out my other posts about Los Angeles!
More of Southern California
Now, it is your turn. What are your reasons to love Los Angeles? I am eager to read your comments.
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