An Instagrammer’s Guide to LA, California
L.A. sparks the creative mind. Prepare to indulge in the abundance of food, culture, sights, and architecture that L.A. has to offer. This county has seen a lot, so be curious and get inspired from the stories, the people, and the art.
Hint: To use this guide, the square brackets will briefly describe the commonly seen photos at each attraction.
- Attractions. Most of the museums in L.A. have free admission, but extra for special exhibits. LACMA was the only one I was charged admission!
- By car – everything is very spread out and not within walking distance
- By Uber – for those who don’t drive
- By Lyft – a newer alternative to Uber, which usually provides deals off rides!
- Tipping. Restaurants: 15% for breakfast/lunch and 20% for dinner. Room Service: $3-5.
- Weather. Extremely hot in the summer months. Wear lighter fabrics.
- The Getty Center [grid white backgrounds, clean architecture and unique shapes]: This by far was one of my favourite museums in L.A. – not for the art, but for the architecture, the view, and the culture This museum is located on a hilltop, with a scenic view of L.A. Take the shuttle to the top, browse the gardens, admire the art, and take in the beautiful architecture. Also, check out the events happening at the Getty Center! I planned my trip to this museum around the Moses Sumney (a local singer) concert they were hosting (and he was so amazing!). *Note: This museum is free, so definitely show up earlier if you’re attending any Getty Center events, like concerts!
- LACMA [rows of lampposts, "levitating” boulder]: *ADMISSION* This museum is a classic! The infamous L.A. photos of the lampposts are taken at the installation right outside of LACMA: Urban Light. This museum is one of the few museums where visitors must pay admission. Definitely choose to pay extra and visit the special exhibits, which were the highlights of my visit! Out back of the museum, there’s an installation, Levitated Mass, which is the popular photo with the big boulder. *Note: This museum charges admission, but bring your student ID for a discount!
- Griffith Observatory [view of L.A. skyline, Hollywood sign at a distance]: This attraction has the best view of L.A (and is free to visit!). I recommend arriving before sunset, catching the sunset, then staying for the night lights. The city’s transition from day to night is beautiful and a definite must-see! However, note that the Hollywood sign is only visible in the daytime (there are no lights that light up the sign at nighttime), so plan to arrive earlier. There is also a lot to see inside and around the observatory – get your walking shoes on and start exploring! Get a view of any angle of the city by walking the outdoor steps.
- The Broad [huge balloon animal installations, mirrored room with lights, gigantic house furniture]: This is my favourite museum for contemporary art! I discovered my love and appreciation for Jeff Koon through his amazing colourful balloon animal installations in this museum. This museum is also where you can find Infinity Mirrored Room, which is the infamous starry/space-like room. The wait for this room was extremely long, but it was so worth it – it was so magical! *Note: This museum is free, but be prepared to wait long lines. I waited about an hour to get into the museum and another hour to get onto the queue of the Infinity Mirrored Room (They will text you your number in the queue and keep you updated). **Tip: While you’re waiting for the Infinity Mirrored Room, check out the rest of the museum or grab a bite at Otium right beside The Broad!
- Santa Monica Pier [view of the shoreline, amusement park rides, boardwalk, rows of thick wooden pillars under a dock]. Definitely lounge on a beach towel and bask in the afternoon sun. This was a lot of fun for a relaxing afternoon. There are cheap beach towels for sale on the boardwalk, if you didn’t bring one for the trip.
- Venice Beach [boardwalks, street vendors]. Walking along Venice Beach, you’ll see a lot of street vendors and buskers. This attraction was so lively and there’s so much to look at. *Tip: Rent out a bike and bike down Venice Beach. Make sure to also get a basket for your things and a lock if you want a break.
- Muscle Beach: This attract is easy to spot while strolling down Venice Beach. It’s a fenced off area, where weight-lifters will go to work out. It seems quite exclusive, but you can see the gym from the outside.
- République. The pasta and drinks here are amazing! I still crave the lobster spaghetti – it was so flavourful. I also recommend a charcuterie board – *Note: The service here is a bit slower and it is on the pricier side.
- PokiNometry. If you’re near the Hollywood Walk of Fame, check out PokiNometry for a quick bite. A poke bowl has become quite popular, and is almost like a bowl of deconstructed sushi. It’s a rice base with toppings of your choice (there’s raw fish, roe, seaweed, ginger, sesame, sauces, etc. – essentially toppings you would find in sushi). It was really light and quite delicious. I would recommend to try it once!
- Commissary [greenhouse restaurant]. This restaurant is so beautiful, especially in the day. I had grabbed an early dinner at this restaurant and it was quite delicious. It’s a go-to place with the girls.
- The Albright. Located on the Santa Monica Pier, this restaurant has a lovely view of the water. I recommend the oysters from here! They’re so fresh.
- Otium. Near the Broad, stop by this restaurant for an after-museum pick-me-up OR while waiting for the infinity mirrored room. The oysters here were incredible and their sauce was very unique from the typical horseradish/ketchup mix. The fusilli here was also delicious! The pasta is made fresh and in-house, so it definitely did not disappoint. Service, presentation, and décor were all great!
- Umami [burger with a “U”]. This was yummy, but a little overrated. It’s a must-try, but not good enough to make me crave the burger. However, I ordered my burger with thin fries, and these were delicious! The thin fries are perfectly delicate and nicely crisp.
- In-N-Out. Of course, I had to try In-N-Out and this was actually quite good. The burger was a nice size and the ingredients tasted really fresh. Also, get your fries animal style! They add this thousand island-like dressing on your fries, along with cheese and meat. It sounds disgusting, but I really liked it!
[For] The INSTAS
- Alfred Tea [tea in front of pink tiles]. Alfred Tea specializes in various tea drinks, which are quite good. It definitely is a bit overhyped, given the number of Insta posts with the drinks and infamous pink tiles and pink cups. It is very cute and worth a trip though!
- Alfred Coffee. This is the coffee version for those coffee junkies. It’s minimal and a more masculine version of Alfred Tea Room.
- Paul Smith Pink Wall [pink wall]. This is where the popular pink wall photos are taken! You can spot it quite easily, especially with the amount of people taking photos by it.
- Cisco Home [“Made in LA” wall]. Within walking distance of the pink wall, this is also a very popular backdrop! There have been a lot of photoshoots by this wall.
- Global Angel Wings Project Wall [infamous Colette Miller’s angel wings]. There’s a bunch around the city, but the one I visited is at St. Regis Wine & Liquor at West 3rd Street.
List bY Jessica Chen
When not studying commerce at Queen’s University, Jessica Chen can be found wandering and getting lost – especially in her hometown of Toronto. She has discovered the beauty behind solo trips, having travelled alone to four cities across North America this summer. With a love for food and culture, she is excited to be studying abroad in France and travelling across Europe for the upcoming semester. Instagram: @jessifly