Your Finnair Guide: Eclectic experiences in Los Angeles
LA resident and Finnair Airport Service Manager at Los Angeles and Seattle International Airport Victor Ejiji shares his best tips when visiting the city of angels. Admire massive murals, find your next favourite restaurant, escape the fast-paced lifestyle in search of the best LA view or take it easy by the enchanting Southern California coastline – just like locals do.
The Hollywood film industry, 12 major league sports teams, an abundance of amusement parks, the possibility to shop until you drop, and wonderful music venues that offer the best acoustic experience possible at a live event. Los Angeles and its surrounding cities are without a doubt the pinnacle of leisure for children and adults alike.
However, LA offers so much more than just spotting the next celebrity or seeking an adrenaline rush on one of Disneyland’s rides. The city boasts numerous art galleries, an ever-evolving culinary scene, local breweries and wineries, and endless beaches that stretch across the Southern California coastline.
Arts District – Local art with hip restaurants and microbreweries
This former industrial area, located just a few kilometres east of downtown Los Angeles, serves as the creative pulse of the city. Local artists settled here in the 60s and converted warehouses into creative spaces, often covering the outside walls of buildings with massive murals.
There are numerous galleries that display and sell art made in Los Angeles. If you choose to pay this historic area a visit, check out Hauser & Wirth on 3rd Street, located in a former flour mill. The compound is large enough to house an art gallery, a restaurant and a bookstore, while the outside garden provides the local community with fresh vegetables and herbs. The building’s façade displays a beautiful mural of local artistry and overlooks the garden area.
In recent years, food and beer lovers have been rewarded, as a culinary revolution has taken place in the Arts District. New hip restaurants and microbreweries boasting LA’s finest hand-crafted beers have opened at record speed all over this part of town. You will not regret paying this historic yet urban and modern part of town a visit. There is plenty to admire, and the tasty cuisine and refreshing beverages will leave you wanting more.
Koreatown – Food, relaxation and social entertainment
Los Angeles is a 'melting pot' of different cultures living together and creating many subcultures within the city. With this cultural diversity, it is not hard to find an authentic Korean barbecue, Japanese ramen or a rich Indian buffet. In the greater Los Angeles area, many neighbourhoods have been named after ethnic groups that have settled and established themselves and their culture in different parts of town over the years.
For example, Koreatown, which is located around 5 kilometres north of downtown LA in the Wilshire District, will not leave you disappointed. You can find many restaurants that serve traditional, world-famous Korean cuisine. One great place to satisfy your appetite is Hang Ho Dong Baekjeong, where you should try a Korean BBQ with tasty Banchan side dishes.
After treating yourself to delicious food, why not wind down and visit one of the Korean bathhouses in the area? For example, Crystal Spa is highly popular among locals. You can spend an entire day there cleansing your skin, resting your soul and recharging for your next adventure on your trip. Towels, slippers and scrubs are all included in the entry fee.
If some time is left after a day of eating and relaxation at the spa, you should check out one of the many karaoke bars nearby. You can even rent your own booth if you prefer to keep it more private while singing your heart out.
Koreatown is just one example of the many places where you can enjoy authentic cuisine or an overall unique cultural experience in LA. There are many more places worth visiting, such as Little Tokyo just 1.5 kilometres northeast from downtown, and Chinatown a similar distance north from downtown. There is Little Ethiopia, Little India, Filipino town and many more places for you to choose from if you are in the mood for a specific dish or want to get to know the diverse cultures and communities of LA.
Griffith Park – Perfect escape for nature lovers
If you are a hiking enthusiast, Griffith Park is the right place for you. Located only a few kilometres north of downtown, it is one of the country’s largest urban parks with many trails offering the perfect escape from the fast-paced lifestyle of the metropolitan Los Angeles area.
Griffith Park is an oasis tucked away near the heart of the city that offers you a serene and picturesque backdrop. You can even find some of the most iconic LA landmarks there, such as the LA Zoo, the world-famous Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory from which you can enjoy the most breathtaking views of the entire city of Los Angeles. The observatory is also worth a visit after sunset as you can see the city lit up in its majestic and colourful lights.
Try out the Hollyridge trail and make your way all the way to the Hollywood Sign viewpoint. With its stunning views for the entire 10.5-kilometre-round-trip, the trail is highly rated among hikers.
The coast of Southern California – Beach, wine and whale watching
With nearly 300 days of sunshine per year, Los Angeles offers perfect outdoor activities to its residents and visitors all year round. Whether you enjoy surfing, swimming or simply a stroll by the water, the Southern California coastline with its beautiful beaches will certainly captivate you.
Some of the most attractive beaches in the LA area are Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice Beach. For all the beach lovers, I can recommend Laguna Beach. A 50-minute drive southeast from LA in Orange County, you can enjoy some of the most gorgeous beaches in the entire country.
In Palos Verdes, which is a short drive south of LA, you have the opportunity to go whale watching from dedicated viewpoints or directly in the water with booked boat tours. It is a natural spectacle when the largest mammals on Earth pass through the Los Angeles area during the months of December through April.
While California, especially Napa Valley in Northern California, is known for its rich wine culture, Los Angeles has reputable wineries of its own that produce world-class wine. While visiting LA, book a wine tasting tour with one of the many family run wineries such as Strange Family Vineyards or Malibu Wine Hikes in Malibu. The conducted tastings are very personable, and you will get insights into wine production that have been passed down from generation to generation.
It is an impossible task to experience everything Los Angeles has to offer. However, I can assure you there is something to everyone’s liking – come and experience it firsthand!
Your Finnair Guide series showcases different Finnair destinations through the eyes of Finnairians. Join us to discover unique and not-so-obvious areas, places, sights and experiences that are worth a visit – those that locals also enjoy.