Why LA Is A Great Home Base For Those Infected With The Travel Bug

by Kimmie Conner
Getty Images

So, you caught the travel bug.

Maybe you spent a month in Asia, maybe you backpacked through Europe, and maybe you went on a family vacation to Hawaii or road tripped to the Grand Canyon.

However far away you went, one thing is for sure: You went somewhere new and there is nothing you want more than to go somewhere new again. And again. And again.

You now have a strange longing to continue to visit new places where you can see new sights, meet new people and understand how people live in places other than your little neighborhood that contains all the same people and sights.

But, there are quite a few obstacles to just picking up and going — like that little thing called college you're obligated to stay in for four plus years.

Or, say, that job that you need in order to pay your rent and your bills.

And then there's the fact that said job hardly pays your bills, let alone provides funding to travel as often as you want.

So, you're stuck here in Los Angeles for a little or a long while, and you need to find some way to satisfy your wanderlust here while also living your real-life and making money to hopefully really satisfy it one day.

Well you're in luck because you happen to be stuck in a city where you can travel without stepping foot on a plane.

LA is one hell of a huge city.

We encompass everything from the dirty downtown city vibes to the beachy surfer vibes, the nature mountain vibes, the suburban neighborhood vibes, the grungy street-artsy vibes, the bougie celebrity vibes and everything in between.

Whenever you start to get queasy with the urge get out and go, this city will absolutely always have something new and exciting in store for you — you just have to have the curiosity to get out and find it.

Enough with LA, I need some culture. I want something different and foreign.

I don't know if you've noticed before, but sometimes while you're driving down LA streets like La Cienega or Venice Blvd, it may appear as if you've driven through four countries within 10 minutes because of such a heavy scenery change.

It can change from luxurious to sketchy, or residential to metropolitan. As you clearly know if you've ever set foot in Little Tokyo, some areas of LA have concentrated areas of certain ethnicities where you can experience different ethnic food and slight culture shock.

Have you ever tried Ethiopian food from Little Ethiopia on Fairfax? I bet you didn't know Washington Blvd has a small Brazilian area, complete with the cutest little colorful motel you'll ever see, a few gift shops and some amazing all-you-can-eat Brazilian pizza.

There are all sorts of cultural places in LA: little Havana, little Armenia, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India, Spanish culture in El Pueblo and even Alpine Village, a little German area in Torrance (and yes, it does throw an Oktoberfest).

So I know it's obviously not the same as really going and getting a real dose of culture from a different country, but not many other cities can boast such a diverse range of cultural specialties.

When you feel you need something new or maybe even just some authentic foreign food, these places are well worth exploring for yourself.


El Pueblo de Los ÁngelesLittle Tokyo

Little Tokyo

Little Ethiopia


I want to get away and relax, maybe somewhere tropical. Why is the Caribbean so far away?!

First of all, the fact that we live so close to the coast is too much of a blessing not to take full advantage of it.

We also just happen to live somewhere with beaches that are nothing short of gorgeous. Have you ever driven on PCH through Malibu on a nice sunny day?

If you can't get to the Caribbean, plan a stay-cation on LA's local tropics right in our backyard. There are so many beaches and beach towns to explore in LA, each with its own unique character.

The Santa Monica Pier may get old, and maybe you've been to Venice a zillion times, but what about Terranea and Trump beaches just south in Palos Verdes?

Or anywhere in Malibu, which is basically a continuous gorgeous beach with tons of walkways down to the sand with parking on PCH.

From Redondo to Hermosa, or Manhattan to Zuma and Malibu Lagoon, or all the lesser known shores between, each is worth exploring when you're feeling like getting a nice beach day in and going somewhere new.

It also helps that we have good, sunny weather basically every day. Beach days in December aren't even out of the picture.

And yeah, these beaches aren't as tropical as places you wish you could go, but they sure are close, affordable, picturesque and perfect for home-traveling when you can't actually travel.

Hey, people all over the world dream of visiting these beaches, so we may as well make use of 'em.


El Segundo (town and beach)

Terranea Resort

Redondo Pier

Abalone Cove – Palos Verdes

Paradise Cove – Malibu

Little Dume – Malibu

Naples Island Canals – Long Beach

I'd prefer getting out into nature and spending some time with mother earth herself, somewhere to clear my mind.

The Santa Monica Mountain Range spans from north Malibu all the way to pretty much downtown.

You know those big hills you see from everywhere in LA — the reason you can see the Hollywood Sign perched up high?

This long stretch of mountains houses another world of adventures that make it seem like you've left LA entirely.

From waterfalls and creeks to views and abandoned graffiti-covered houses, it's safe to say there are a lot of places to clear your mind and get into nature in LA's own mountain range.

There are a variety of hilltop trails with great views, from the more trendy Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park hikes to more secluded Tuna Canyon, Los Liones, Solstice Canyon and Point Mugu, up in Malibu.

You can do some cliff jumping far from the city buzz at Malibu Creek, or chase some waterfalls at Escondido Falls, right down the road from PCH in Malibu.

There's an abandoned zoo you can visit near Griffith Park, and if you want to get really creepy, you can hike down to the remains of Nazi camp Murphy Ranch, just a slight hike from amazing Will Rogers State Park trails.

If you want to make a full day of it, you can bring a picnic and head to my personal favorite cliff jumping spot: Hermit Falls.

This one is only a bit farther up in Azusa, but very worth your while when you see this Fern Gully look-alike, with streams leading into small, medium and large cliff-jumping spots between smooth marble rock.

If you are getting city fever, escaping to any of these places will leave you feeling recharged and happy with a dose of quiet, green, leafy, uninterrupted nature.

It also helps they are all within driving distance from anywhere in LA, giving you no excuse not to get out there and spend some time with mother nature herself.


Tuna Canyon – Malibu

Murphy Ranch – Pacific Palisades

Sunken City – San Pedro

Solstice Canyon – Malibu

Escondido Falls – Malibu

Hermit Falls- Azusa

The concrete jungle is what my dreams are made of. Take me to the big city!

Well, this one should be obvious. If you want to feel like you're in the big city, you're currently in one of the biggest in the world.

The concrete jungle spans far here, with downtown LA being the first choice if you want to walk among the high rises and neon-lit developments.

There are lots of sections of downtown worth venturing through: namely, LA Live, the Fashion District, Grand Park area and the Jewelry District, with Grand Central Market and Pershing Square as definite highlights.

There are too many amazing little spots in downtown to count off, but if you live in LA and haven't checked it out, it's a must.

Going into downtown is one of my favorite things about living in LA, and it's what truly makes it real to me that I live here.

Walking through the high rises is the classic LA experience, and is what people who have never been here picture it to be.

The downtown area is not the only place to experience a big city feel in LA; you can drive down Wilshire, Hollywood or Sunset and come across many more areas with ambient big-city vibes.

Walking along or going out on the Sunset Strip is a must, Hollywood Boulevard is a given and there are a lot of developed areas along Wilshire that have a classic Los Angeles look.

The nightlife is booming and plentiful in these areas as well, another definitive Los Angeles characteristic.

So, when you're itching for a big-city experience, Angelenos, always remember that they are always at your fingertips.


Universal CityWalk

LA Live

Hollywood blvd

Sunset Strip

DTLA, of course

Downtown Long Beach – Pine Ave.

Century City

I already know we're in a big city, but sometimes I wish we weren't. I want something cuter, quainter with a small-town vibe.

Believe it or not, there are tons of charming little areas in LA that can make it temporarily feel like you've been transported to a little village somewhere far away.

A lot of the beach towns can give this feeling, with cute little shops and family-owned bars and restaurants lining pedestrian-filled walkways.

El Segundo has the cutest little downtown that is so much fun to explore. There's a little stretch of Montana Ave. in Santa Monica with some amazing cafés and shopping, with big, leafy green trees shading you from the sun in this family-oriented, upscale neighborhood.

The Pacific Palisades and Brentwood have multiple adorable little markets that are worth a wander, with high-quality farmer's markets each Sunday to match the quaint atmosphere.

Most centers in Malibu give off the same small-town beachy vibe that is much different from the hustle and bustle of downtown.


Fisherman's Village – Marina Del Rey

Most of Malibu

Culver City

Downtown Hermosa/Manhattan Beach

Downtown Palos Verdes

Brentwood Village

Westwood Village

I want trendy and contemporary. Somewhere young, artsy, hip, designer and fashionable.

Trendy LA is everywhere. There are several modern neighborhoods where you can find tastefully-designed shopping, eats and bars, and lots of impressive street art, too.

With a large population that absolutely always needs to stay up on the latest style and even strives for that avant-garde feel, there are tons of places you can go around here where you can feel like you're among the trendsetters.

Take a step down Abbot Kinney in Venice and you will understand just how stylish LA can get. Abbot Kinney is the hip place of west LA.

It's the kind of place where I want to look my cutest so I can fit in with all the young and fashionable people walking around, and so that the store owners don't look at me strangely every time I walk into a store that sells $99 rosewood tea strainers, $450 knit sweaters and $600 native american headdresses (not kidding).

Heading down Abbot Kinney and along onto Main Street in Santa Monica, you'll find some more chic places. Think succulents growing in a pattern on the wall or coffee shops that play only underground deep house kind of trendy.

All of which, in fact, are awesome and so much fun to discover. Melrose is another huge trendy area, with some upscale retailers and many adorable and scrumptious places to dine for lunch, brunch, dinner, a nice coffee or some classic LA designer juice.

On an even more hipster note, we have Silver Lake, with its organic local eateries and enjoyable night life among like-minded people.

I would definitely say that there is at least a small dose of trendiness anywhere you want to go around here. It's what makes LA, LA.


Venice/Abbot Kinney

Bergamot Station – Santa Monica

DTLA – FIDM, Art Walk


Silver Lake

Downtown Hollywood

I want luxury. I wish I could go to a ritzy place without spending the money on a high-class resort…

On the even more upscale end, we, of course, have the lovely Beverly Hills.

If you enjoy the type of shopping where you walk into an all-white room with two racks of clothes and a worker wearing a suit, then take an afternoon and walk down Rodeo Drive.

It's always been a dream of mine to put on the nicest clothes I own and walk down Rodeo pretending like I can actually afford anything there.

But, all sarcasm aside, these swanky LA neighborhoods serve as nice getaways from the usual routine, and you can indulge in some luxury without any real traveling.

I always like a good drive past some of LA's richest areas so I can check out the amazing mansions that some lucky people own.

I love the Montana area in Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades, the Hollywood hills and even Palos Verdes (come on, you'd be lying if you said you don't enjoy checking out some nice houses.)

Brentwood has some areas that can also reach the luxurious end of the scale, with shopping and dining to match.

The Golden Triangle by the split of Wilshire and Santa Monica is a standout, with the famous Sprinkles cupcake ATM machine. If that isn't glamorous, I don't know what is.


Beverly Hills

Golden Triangle/Rodeo Drive

Sunset Strip

Hollywood Hills

The Grove

Anyway, fellow wanderlusters, I hope this provided you with some inspiration to get out there and discover LA.

There are unlimited staycations to be had around here, in one of the most varied, enormous and multicultural cities on the planet.

The one travel craving I can't find you in LA is cold weather (unless you go to Big Bear), but most people would say that's a good thing.

Citations: Kimmie Conner