Top 10 Things To Do in Los Angeles

1. Check out the view of LA from the car park of Dodger Stadium

 http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/ballpark/
Where? 1000 Vin Scully Ave, Los Angeles
Why go? Even if you’re not a baseball fan (like me), the view from the car park is unreal!
How long will you need? We were there for about an hour, because husband discovered we could go into the stadium and just sit around. And, the gift shop was open.
Cost? Free!
Read more:
– Travel Tuesday: Dodger Stadium, LA

 

2. Eat your way around Grand Central Market

 http://www.grandcentralmarket.com/
Where? 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
Why go? Food. All of the food. It’s also full of locals, and watching the way the huge the mix of cultures and ethnicities interact in a market setting is a true experience.
How long will you need? A few hours, preferably first thing in the morning.
Cost? How hungry are you? You can get a solid breakfast for only a few dollars if you’re struggling for cash, or you can buy all of the food!
Read more:
– Eat here: Eggslut & Tumbras at Grand Central Market, LA

 

3. Be a big kid at Universal Studios

 http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/
Where? 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Why go? As if you need a reason…
How long will you need? All day!
Cost? Ticket prices start from USD$105.00 per adult

 

4. People watch in Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Why go? People watching at it’s absolute best, it’s the perfect spot to melt into the background and just observe the goings on.
How long will you need? A few hours.
Cost? People watching is the greatest free activity ever!
Read more:
– Through my eyes: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, LA

 

5. While you’re in Venice Beach, check out Abbot Kinney Blvd for good shopping and great food

 http://www.abbotkinneyblvd.com/
Where? Abbot Kinney Blvd. Obviously.
Why go? It’s a pretty hipster area, but in a good way – lots of gorgeous and really unique stores to buy some different souvenirs (because do you really want to be that guy with the Hollywood Star fridge magnet?!). And with hipsters comes great food – my cereal and peanut butter bowl from Another Kind of Sunrise (above) was magic!
How long will you need? Another few hours after you’re done people watching in Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
Cost? Free to meander, bring some money to shop and eat!
Read more:
– Eat here: Another Kind of Sunrise, LA (breakfast/healthy)

 

6. Enjoy a chili dog at the institution that is Pink’s

 http://www.pinkshollywood.com/
Where? 709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles
Why go? Because it’s a city institution – everyone from Dolly Parton to Jimmy Fallon to Aerosmith to Betty White have been! When we visited, we came across a particularly excited lady who was finally visiting for the first time after having lived in LA her whole life!
How long will you need? We were there for about an hour.
Cost? We got the classic chili dog with mustard, onions and chili, for around USD$5.00
Read more:
– Eat here: Pink’s, LA

 

7. Eat your way through The Grove Farmers Market

 http://www.farmersmarketla.com/
Where? 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles
Why go? Food (noticing a theme?), and lots of it! While the Grove itself is a bit upper class and la-di-da, the Farmers Market is much more laid back, with those plebian food options that everyone loves. You can have your table-cloth clad restaurants, I’ll take a doughnut and pulled pork sandwich any day!
How long will you need? We visited a few times, and spend an hour or two each visit. It’s a great spot to grab a coffee and sweet and just watch the world go by!
Cost? Again, depends how much you’re eating…
Read more:
– Shop & Eat at The Grove Farmers Market, LA (Bryan’s BBQ Pit, Bob’s Coffee Doughnuts & Short Cake)

 

8. Take the trek out the Greystone Mansion and Gardens

 http://www.greystonemansion.org/
Where? 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills
Why go? It’s stunning. It’s nothing like you’d expect to find in the neon soaked world that is Hollywood, and that’s why you need to go. It’s a little piece of paradise in a world of botox and hairspray, and that’s what you’ll need after a day or two in the mayhem.
How long will you need? Hire a car and drive. It’ll cut down on time walking and time spent in marriage counselling. Trust me (if you don’t read more below). Once you’re there, an hour or so should be enough to recharge!
Cost? Free parking and admission.
Read more:
– Greystone Mansion & Park, LA

 

9. See how the other half live out in Beverly Hills

Why go? Honestly, it’s fascinating. There is so much wealth and so many bizarre activities and conversations associated with that, and as a regular, middle class gal, it really is mesmerising to see how life unfolds for those with money.
How long will you need? Not long – we only lasted an hour.
Cost? Free to people watch, bring a few credit cards if you plan to shop!
Read more:
– From my travel journal: Los Angeles, 2014

 

10. Catch a movie at the legendary TCL (Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre

 http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/
Where? 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
Why go? Hollywood takes a special kind of person to put up with it and find it interesting for more than an hour or two, particularly at night. When you reach your limit of fake-and-touristy, why not catch a movie at one of the most iconic movie theatres in the world?!
How long will you need? A few hours – they’re great cinemas so you may want to go back more than once!
Cost? USD$16.00 for a standard adult ticket

 

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Japanese Film Festival, Melbourne 2015

The lovely Mon from Mon’s Adventure got in touch with me a few weeks ago about the Japanese Film Festival only a few days after getting back from Japan with an offer I couldn’t refuse – she’d been invited to attend an opening screening at the Japanese Film Festival but couldn’t attend, and very generously offered up her place at both the pre-screening cocktail party and the movie itself to me! Yes please and thank you!!

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The pre-screening party, held in ACMI’s Lightwell space, was a good chance to mingle and nibble and drink; basically, a bit of time to unwind from the day and start to enjoy the evening! As one would expect of an event like this, the food was delicious (particularly those sliders), and when I realised the glasses being passed around were full of Choya Umeshu (a Japanese liqueur made from ume fruit, and a personal favourite of mine), I was a pretty happy little camper.

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This year in Melbourne, the Japanese Film Festival was being supported by Washoku Lovers, an organisation/club/community that is promoting authentic Japanese culture and cuisine here in Australia (mostly Sydney at this stage, but they are trying to break through in Melbourne, yay!), so I have them to thank for the kind invitation extended to myself and my good friend JV for the night  : )  After seeing the list of eateries they’re compiling for Sydney, I can’t wait to see the places that sign up for Melbourne – not only is it going to be a great little black book of dinner locations, you may get some discounts, too…

It all started back in 1997 with three little screenings; now, in it’s 19th year, the JFF  is enjoying much bigger crowds (almost 32, 000 people attended last year), showcasing the unique nature of Japanese film (through genres as varied as anime, samurai, food, classics and drama) in comparison to the standard Hollywood stuff we usually see – on Thursday night, the screening we were invited to was for BAKUMAN, which is pretty popular in Japan! We also got to hear from JFF 2015 Cultural Ambassador Adam Liaw (of MasterChef fame) who spoke about his first link to Japan not being food, but film.

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I’m going to be brutally honest here – the idea of seeing a movie about two teenage boys trying to become published manga artists didn’t really excite me much, but I found myself really getting into in 15 minutes into the film! Based on manga and publishing giant, Weekly Shonen Jump, the film tells of two kids who just want to be published (actually, now that I think about it, I should have been more into this  movie from the start as an amateur writer who’d love to be published…) and the struggles it takes them to get there. The themes explored were friendship, struggle and triumph, and this film perfectly captured all three.

The festival is still running right around Australia until the 6th of December, so if you’d like to get a little taste of Japanese film, head to the website for tickets! I never thought I’d be sanctioning a film like this, but seriously, Bakuman – go and see it!

 

And a very big thank you to the Japan Foundation for having me as one of their guests, for opening my eyes a little more and giving me a little more appreciation for their culture beyond just their amazing food!