Before we came to Los Angeles, pretty much everyone we talked to said that it’s an average city at best and that we would only need a couple days here, and would get sick of it pretty quickly. Maybe it’s because we had low expectations, or maybe it’s because we have never been anywhere else in the USA, so have nothing to compare it to, but I have to say that personally, I quite like LA.
I think a lot has to do with the fact that we stayed in Downtown LA which has a nice quiet feel to it with its wide open streets, sandstone buildings, and very few tourists. Compare that to Hollywood which is packed full of tourists and tour operators touting tours, displays, souvenirs etc. We only spent an afternoon along Hollywood Boulevard and that was enough; it reminds me of most ‘standard’ seedy tourist areas like the Gold Coast, Kings Cross or Hindley Street in Adelaide.
Downtown in comparison is undergoing a real revitalization with lots of tourism officers on the streets, and the streets being kept very clean. It is one of those places that you have to know where to go. If you walk around at night it seems as though the place is dead, but that is because there are a lot of hidden and/or rooftop bars that can’t be seen from the street, with areas around 7th and Wilshire streets becoming very popular. It reminds me a bit of Melbourne in that sense; once we had talked to a local she gave us a list of about 8 different bars, that we would never of found as a tourist, and then each of those bars we went to was actually fairly busy and really cool.
Downtown LA is also becoming a bit of a public transport hub. Before we left everyone also said that we would need to hire a car to get around but we have found public transport to be fine. The subway goes straight from Downtown to Hollywood and there are now express busses out to Disneyland, Santa Monica Beach and heaps of other areas. A car might have been handy, but then one of us wouldn’t be able to drink, so if you are happy to spend an hour on a bus to get to certain places, there is enough public transport if you ask me.
All in all, if you stayed in Downtown Los Angeles I would say there is at least a weeks’ worth of things to see and do in LA and if you like that quieter, non touristy, then definitely consider a stay in Downtown LA.