L.A. L.A.

I just had a post up about visiting Los Angeles and how I like it.

I don’t know if this is a feeling my fellow San Diegans share or not.  I’ve never taken a poll.  But I like LA.

(the Dodgers, however, can go to hell)

Mentally I tend to break up Southern California into four parts- San Diego, the desert, Los Angeles, and all that other crap, by which I mean Orange County and the Inland Empire.  The less said about the OC and the IE the better.

Los Angeles in some ways doesn’t get the respect that other cities in California get.  People love San Francisco because it’s a pretty city, it’s managed to hold on to some of its history (or, you could say, it had some to begin with) and it’s location and compactness makes it easy to digest.  People like San Diego because the weather is nice, it’s easy to get around and there’s lots for people who aren’t from here to do.  LA is not so inviting.

First of all, just knowing you’re even in LA is a challenge if you’re not familiar.  If you drive up the I-5 you have to drive through miles and miles of city to get there- Orange county cities Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano, weird master-planned Irvine, Tustin, Santa Ana, Anaheim.  Or if you veer off to the 405 you pass by Huntington Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley (which I don’t think even has a valley).  And some other places.  I can’t keep track of them all and as far as I’m concerned all of Orange Country looks pretty much the same to me.  Just keep in mind that if you’re driving up I-5 and get to the end of San Onofre and Camp Pendelton- the only major break in cities between San Diego and LA, you are still a county away from Los Angeles.

If you’re driving west on the 10 you will travel through part of the Inland Empire, which is basically a hotter OC.  If you’re heading south on the I-5 from say, Bakersfield, there’s San Dimas and some other cities that I can’t remember.

Even when you get to LA, you’ll find yourself driving along the freeway, seeing signs for places like Bell or  City of Industry- “cities” with populations in the tens of thousands.  What is going on there?

From what I understand, incorporation rules are fairly loose in California, and cities have historically resisted annexation by the city of Los Angeles, so if you look at LA on a map, it’s surrounded by a patchwork of odd little cities.  Some like City of Industry and Commerce formed for tax reasons.  Others were just small towns that existed before the entire Los Angeles basin was developed.

I mean, check out this map:

Los Angeles Map


That’s kind of weird, right?  Cities don’t naturally look like that.

So there’s that part, and there’s the size.  LA is huge.  For obvious reasons (earthquakes), people built out rather than up.  And the traffic.  And the pollution.  And the heat.  And the general messiness of the city.  But enough about that.

LA also has things going on.  Let’s be real- San Diego is a great town if you want to relax and drink beer.  If you want culture, you have to go to LA.

LA has the Getty museums- the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.  They are free.  The collection at the Getty isn’t amazing, but it’s as good as you’re going to see in Southern California.  It’s also in a wonderful location overlooking the city.  There’s also the Armand Hammer, the LA County Museum of Art (awesome), the La Brea Tar Pits (yes, this is real), the Children’s Museum, the museums at Exposition Park that mentioned just the other day (you can see a Space Shuttle, FOR FREE*).

Plus there’s all the great music venues- the Whiskey, the Roxy, the Viper Room, none of which I have ever been to.  In fact I only went to one show on Sunset Strip, at some other club and I can’t remember the name of right now.  But it was a wonderful evening.  We even went to the Rainbow Bar and Grill, the famous hangout of 70s rock legends.  We only stepped in for a moment though because we were off to somewhere else I can’t remember.  It was that kind of night.  Oh to be young and beautiful in LA again.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, so there’s a lot to do there.

To be continued…



*Except on weekends and major holidays




  1. Fortunately, my visit to LA was done in the company of an old friend from Israel who had moved there a decade earlier. We did LA and Hollywood and “the Valley” in his old pickup truck which added a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the experience. He actually lived on Venice Beach in on of those teeny little shack/house thingies, but it suited him well. California has a unique culture

    The next day, we drove down to Laguna Beach and met our San Diego friends for lunch atop the bluffs. I was on the coast for work based in Berkeley, but added time to spend further south. When Garry and I went there on vacation, we did much the same thing, staying in SF but traveling along the coast to L.A., then back again with my favorite stopover in Monterey.

    California sprawls. LA isn’t a city as I understand it, but rather a collection of areas, neighborhoods, historic districts each with a slightly different flavor. I liked it. I don’t want to live there, but I wouldn’t mind going back for another long visit 🙂

    1. That’s probably the best way to think of it- as a collection of different neighborhoods, rather than a coherent city. That makes it both fun and challenging at the same time

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