Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
The Last Bookstore
453 S Spring St.; (213) 488-0599; lastbookstorela.com; open M-Th 10am-10pm, F-Sa 10am-11pm, Su 10am-9pm
This eccentric, quirky, and totally unique independent bookstore stands out among the rest of the eccentric, quirky, and totally unique independent bookstores. This cozy palace occupies an unassuming street corner in Downtown LA. Peruse its selection of new and used books, comics, and the Horror Vault, secured behind metal door. Explore the tunnels, sculptures, and walls constructed out of books for that #IntellectualChic Instagram post. If you’re done being cosmically overwhelmed, curl up in a cushy chair and brace yourself for your next LA adventure (and all the traffic congestion and heat exhaustion that entails). Once you’re done channeling your inner bookworm, check out The Last Bookstore’s records or the artists’ studios upstairs.
Prices vary; wheelchair accessible
TCL Chinese Theatres
6925 Hollywood Blvd.; (323) 461-3331; http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/
Ever wanted to know if you have bigger hands than Daniel Radcliffe or smaller shoes than Meryl Streep? Not really? Now, don’t you feel like you kinda have to know? All you gotta do is head to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatres), where you can find the handprints, footprints, and signatures of all your favorite movie stars. Some signatures are almost a hundred years old, and the general rule is that the older they are, the weirder they are. Roy Rogers imprinted his revolver as well as his horse’s hoofs. You might notice Mel Brooks’s hands have something funky going on. You could also consider setting foot inside the theater. After all, it shows movies—at least, that’s what we’ve heard.
Tours from $14; wheelchair accessible
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Blvd.; www.walkoffame.com
Pink stars showcasing the names of celebrities line the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. How many do you recognize? Wait! Watch where you’re going. The only thing more dangerous than one person walking around with their eyes fixed on the ground is swarms of tourists walking around with their eyes fixed on the ground. If you’ve managed to emerge from all those head collisions unscathed, choose a blank star for your future.
Free; wheelchair accessible
Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier; (310) 458-8900; santamonicapier.org; pier open 24hr, most attractions close around midnight
This pier is the pier to end all piers. Restaurants! Shops! An amusement park! The Pacific Ocean! Mountains in the distance! Santa Monica Pier is so well-known you probably haven’t just heard of it—more likely than not, you’ve seen pictures of its iconic ferris wheel. Share a goofy kiss with your significant other at the top of the wheel, and then play some arcade games and enjoy classic carnival-style food. You can even take a class at the Trapeze School—just wait until you’ve fully digested your fried dough before you take flight. After a day of adventuring, once the sun begins to dip behind the horizon line, venture under the pier for the iconic photos.
Ride and attraction prices vary; wheelchair accessible
201-469 Rodeo Dr.; rodeodrive-bh.com; store hours vary
To what extent do you fit the “broke college student” stereotype? Try walking down Rodeo Drive and see if you can afford anything. For your next challenge, try spotting a Ford, Toyota, or any other car that normal people drive. You can’t, and that’s the point. The three-block stretch between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards is filled exclusively with designer outposts, from names you probably know—Gucci, Hermes, Prada—to ones you might not, unless you watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” religiously. You might even spot a celebrity. Whether you’re into fashion, cars, or people watching, Rodeo Drive is worth a visit.
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.