I’m really excited to interview Danny Jensen author of “Secret Los Angeles: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure” about Los Angeles. Danny’s tips for the best things to do in Los Angeles are awesome because he moved to LA as an actor, then began writing about local restaurants, bars, and local attractions in between gigs. That insider knowledge led him to write three books about awesome LA attractions that even most locals don’t know about.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is a diverse metropolis that’s an amalgamation of many cities that represent different flavors and experiences within Southern California. The weather in Los Angeles is bright and sunny most days, but there is cooler weather (and occasional rain) in the late fall and winter. Days in May and June are often filled with “May Gray” and “June Gloom,” but clouds usually burn off by lunchtime, so you can still enjoy the warm California sunshine in the afternoons.
Hollywood is known for the film industry and you never know when you’ll come across a commercial, TV, or film shoot as you venture through LA. One of my favorite ways to watch movies is to catch a classic film (ranging from the 1950s to 2000s) at Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But, don’t forget about the amazing music scene in LA either. The Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theater host big-name artists on a regular basis, while up-and-coming bands play smaller venues and clubs around town. Echo Park Rising and KCRW’s Summer Nights are excellent music festivals to enjoy. Or you can slow it down a bit and enjoy jazz at LACMA.
The Tournament of Roses Parade is a can’t miss event on New Year’s Day. And the LA County Fair is one of the biggest in California. Nisei Week in Little Tokyo offers delicious Japanese food and incredible culture in August. There are many Dia de Los Muertos Festivals and haunted houses throughout October and early November. The Magic Castle is a private club where some of the world’s best magicians hone their skills, but guest admission is invitation-only. And Griffith Park Observatory, Getty Museum, and the Holocaust Museum are can’t miss attractions when you visit.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Discover Los Angeles, the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.
If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.
Getting around Los Angeles
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the most popular airport to fly in and out of LA, especially for international travelers. But, Danny recommends flying into one of the smaller airports to avoid the traffic. I used to live near Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) and it is very easy to get in and out of. Plus, it’s only about a twenty-minute drive to LA.
Danny says that getting a car depends on where you’re going and what you plan on doing. Los Angeles is very spread out and cars are usually the best option to get around. However, if you’ll be staying in one area all day, then using rideshare (Uber and Lyft) or the city’s Metro subway and bus system can be a great option. For the best rental car offers, visit Avis, Budget, or Hertz.
When you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Danny Jensen about Los Angeles, California. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Los Angeles, California
- Green dots = best things to do in Los Angeles, California
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Los Angeles, California
Who is Danny Jensen?
Danny Jensen is the author of “Secret Los Angeles: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” and “100 Things to Do in Los Angeles Before You Die, 2nd Ed” by Reedy Press. He is currently working on his third book, “Scavenger Los Angeles,” which he hopes to release soon. He’s a writer, editor, and photographer whose work has appeared in both local and national publications, including Time Out, Thrillist, TravelZoo, KCET, and more. He is also the Managing Editor of Cheapism, a national site dedicated to budget-friendly travel, food, and more.
While he grew up in Boston and lived in New York after attending Vassar College, Danny has spent over a decade enthusiastically exploring the hidden corners of Los Angeles. He’s always on the lookout for unusual landmarks, obscure histories, and delicious, under-the-radar restaurants.
Here are a few articles that he’s written:
- 62 Totally Free Things to Do in LA
- LA’s Best Secret Off-Menu Dishes You Need to Know
- Grand Central Market: A Look Back at 100 Years
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when author Ruth Carlson shares where to get the best things to do in San Francisco, California. In this episode, Ruth and I talk about watching the Blue Angels at Fleet Week, seeing the murals at Coit Tower, and exploring the schooners at Hyde Park. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.