Cool Travel Zone

Unseen Los Angeles

By: Peter Spyr

Far from the perceived glitz and glamour of Hollywood, LA has so much else to offer.

There’s so much more than Rodeo Drive and the Sunset Strip to this vast city. Among these is the burgeoning art scene in Chinatown. Here, each Friday small clubs operate slightly under-the radar, serving drinks to a young, hip crowd that can’t be bothered to make it to the Westside. As the eastside has gotten cooler, the art scene has re-centered itself, allowing a distinct and legitimate encampment on Chinatown’s Chungking Road. Gallery openings are roughly every two weeks and offer the opportunity for public drinking – something you might expect at an art gallery, though not necessarily in LA. Check the web for exact dates, but they are usually Thursdays or Saturdays during the summer.

Another fun thing to do in Los Angeles that is easy to miss is hiking. You can hike through lovely wildlife but see a view of a vast urban space at the top. A wonderful view of the city is available from Griffith Park, and the pay off is much higher if you simply park in the neighboring Los Feliz hills and climb to a peak, avoiding the delays, bother and polluting of following the line of cars to park at the observatory. Other fun hikes include Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades, Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills and Fryman Canyon in Studio City. For more intriguing culinary fare, Los Angeles offers distinct ethnic food at quite low prices in less touristy areas. The Thai cuisine in East Hollywood is legendary, and competes for space only with the Middle Eastern food, centered there and in Westwood, which includes some of the best and most authentic Persian food in the world. Westwood is also home to excellent Lebanese food. Los Angeles’ Mexican food does not need to be spoken for, but for family type restaurants, mainly in the tradition of the Jalisco region, try East Los Angeles proper. There are many informal eateries throughout the city, but perhaps the best Mexican food can be found in Allegria, on Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake region. The line is formidable, but well worth it.

The final aspect of less-seen Los Angeles is the beach. For the best beach one must venture where others are effectively dissuaded from going, the final frontier: Malibu. Though residents are hostile to tourists, California law guarantees public access to the 27 miles of beautiful coastline that are part of this wealthy and insular city. Signs saying "coastal access" highlight spots of entrance, which may look like nothing, but, after descending many stairs, you will generally come upon a beautiful and nearly abandoned beach. To find these beaches, simply drive up the coast highway past the Cross Creek mall, where you can stop for a coffee and likely see a celebrity, but persevere until it seems you must be part way to San Francisco. Until the signs say "Entering Camarillo," you are still in Malibu and near discovering some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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By: Peter Spyr – For cheap flights to America, try Flymonarch.com, visit the site for more information.

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