Be a tourist in your own city!

We spent last Sunday strolling the canals in Venice. Venice California that is, not Venice Italy. But it's pretty amazing that these canals even exist, and that there are gorgeous homes along them side by side with some of the original cottages from the 50's that have yet to be renovated. There was a women cruising in her kayak and a couple on paddle boards, other than that you could hear a pin drop, or a duck quack. If you plan to visit, work in brunch on Abbot Kinney. We ate at The Butchers Daughter, (there's one in NYC too). The 'Butcher' is of veggies, not meat, as it's a no meat zone, and the food is amazing. Also, it's too cute for words.  Expect to wait a little and parking anywhere in Venice is a challenge so bring your patience.
This was the first time I was at the canals and I've lived in Los Angels for 26 years!  Not so strange, when I think about the fact that I grew up in New York and I had never been to the top of the Empire State Building until I went back for a visit.  This all got me thinking about staycationing, and not just on my pool raft. I bet there's a ton of things you've never seen or done in your own city, am I right!?!

Coincidentally one of my friends was planning a vacation for her and her husband and she was getting stressed out over choosing where to go.  Is anywhere safe anymore? Drive or fly? Whose got the Zika virus? etc. So they decided on a staycation and came up with these great rules;

  • When they eat out it has to be somewhere they have never been before, even in their own neighborhood.
  • Each day is planned with a trip to somewhere they have never been before, ie; attraction, museum, park, show, zoo, hike, etc.
  • Phones are along for emergencies only and computers are off limits. That means no texting, no e mails, no instagram or FB, no nothing. (Just the thought of that gives me anxiety).

So I decided to scroll through my camera roll and share some things to do for an LA staycation. Not including the obvious attractions, Universal Studios, Disneyland, (technically Anaheim), these are things you may not find on the tourists sights and if you live here you may or may not have tried them. So if you're heading to LA,  I hope you find this helpful. And if you live in LA happy summer staycation!
  • Beaches - There's the obvious, Zuma, Santa Monica, Topanga. The less obvious, Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beach. And if you like catching celebs in their sweats with their kids on Sundays stroll around Malibu Country Mart. BUT if you want to stroll in the sand past the beautiful homes along the Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Malibu, you know that stretch of so called 'private' beach that's the iconic ariel shot used in many films and TV shows. Well guess what!?! It's not private!  The owners of the beach houses on the beach do not own the ocean front.  There are public access ways all along the PCH but they are very hard to find and see from the road, because of course no one wants you to find them. But there 's a free app called Our Malibu Beaches which gives you the locations of all the public access ways between the houses. This is a secret gem! And free! 

  • Lake Shrine - If  you need to lower your blood pressure or maybe recover from your traffic commute coma, take a walk around this stunning lake, there's lots of places to sit, reflect, and enjoy the beauty, it's pure bliss, and also free.

  • Restoration Hardware - The flagship store on Melrose. No, I'm not sending you shopping, although this store is gorgeous and really fun to stroll through. I'm sending you to a secret haven 4 stories up. Enter the store and walk all the way to the back wall where you will see a huge staircase. Start climbing and at the top you will find a beautiful outdoor oasis, open to the public, (with very little public), because no one knows about it, it's never crowded, bring your lunch, play ping pong, take a nap, snag the photo opps of this stunning view, your instagram will thank you. Linger and enjoy.

  • Steps - I have a thing for hidden staircases and I love The Whitley Terrace Steps. Whitley Heights is a secluded neighborhood across from the Hollywood Bowl full of castle like Mediterranean villas from old Hollywood. It was once home to stars like Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, Jan Harlow and  Rudolf Valentino.  It's charming and the stairs go right between some of the homes.  Halfway up is a great view of the Hollywood sign It's also a good workout, and another fun freebee. Penelope's about to start the climb, you know, to escape the paparazzi.

  • And speaking of The Hollywood Bowl, this is an incredible venue, it's an outdoor amphitheater high up in The Hollywood Hills. The gates opens two hours before each show so you can utilize one of the many picnic areas, each level has one with stunning views of the Hollywood Hills.  It's really special, not free, but totally worth the price of a concert ticket.
  • Hotels - Even in your own city having lunch at a hotel can be a fabulous experience.  One of my friends regularly moves her office pool side at The Standard, and guess what, it's free, have an ice tea or a snack and you can take a dip too. My favorites are the Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Tower. Old Hollywood vibe at it's finest.

The Chateau Marmont
The Standard
Sunset Tower Hotel

  • Hiking - Want to know how those LA bodies really happen?  Not in a stuffy gym that's for sure! It's hiking at Runyon Canyon. Any time, any day, you will find these trails busy and they are hard! Runyon has been closed this month for some water pipe repair but is supposed to open back up in August. In the mean time there are countless trails throughout Los Angeles and a great trail that takes you right up to the back of the Hollywood sign, it's pretty cool.

  • The Zoo - The Los Angeles Zoo is really pretty, easy to navigate (not enormous like the San Diego Zoo) and just a fun thing to do. Zoo admission is $20.00.

  • Theater - Built in 1930 The Pantages Theater was the first televised venue for the Academy Awards in 1953, it's old Hollywood at it's finest and it's the Broadway in LA. And check out The Frolic Room, the tiny dive bar next door, during intermission it was 'The Green room' back then. And now the secret place to go to the restroom at intermission without waiting online (shhhhh) I snapped this picture of the Art Deco ceiling right before the curtain went up on Book of Morman, but it really doesn't even do it justice.

  • Swap Meets - If you're into a little vintage and/or trendy shopping check out the MelroseTrading Post on Sundays and the mother of all swap meets The Rose Bowl the second Sunday of each month.

I'm not including fab places to eat in this post because I'd go on for days but you can check out my post 'Let's Do Lunch' for some yummy LA choices.

Other travel posts;

happy summer staycation!