Four Days in Los Angeles: A Taste of Art, Food and California Sunshine
By Amy Klein
When you think of Los Angeles, you might conjure up an image of Hollywood celebrities, bedazzled in their red carpet ensemble.
But Los Angeles boasts one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the country, and the true magic of the City of Angels lies in its eclectic neighbourhoods.
Here's a look at some of Los Angeles' most bustling neighbourhoods, and how to make the most of a four-day adventure there.
Day 1: Bargain food, tea sets, and artwalks in Chinatown
After you've soaked in the winter sunshine on your morning walk, start off hungry at Phoenix Bakery for mung bean pastries or, if savory's your thing, barbecued pork-filled buns. Next, head to Wing Hop Fung Ginseng & China ProductsOpens in a new window in your browser, a two-story center, where you can find trinkets like a Chinese tea set. (Fill it with the flavourful loose-leaf teas, available downstairs.)
For lunch, try some true Asian fusion, like a Kimchi Spam bowl or a Prime Rib Rice Plate at ChegoOpens in a new window in your browser, formerly a famed food truck. If you want traditional fare, go with the fried Chinese leek cakes and cream cheese wontons at the modest Cambodian joint, New Kamara, or the dim sum and egg custard tarts at Lucky Deli.
Find your way to the nearby downtown area where artists live in lofts. On the second Thursday of each month, check out the monthly art walkOpens in a new window in your browser, where thousands of visitors attend the self-guided walk and view special programming.
Day 2: Tastes of Thai town
While some think of it as East Hollywood, once you hit Fountain and Western, you are in the only designated "Thai Town" in the United States. You'll know you're in the right place when you hit Hollywood Blvd and Western, where the entrance is marked by a statue of the mythical half-lion, half-human angel of Thai folklore.
Visit the shrines in the neighbourhood, like Wat Thai of Los Angeles, a beautiful Thai temple and meditation center. Shop for Thai kitchenware, like woks, soups spoons and flatware, as well as teas, herbs and vegetarian staples like tofu and seitan at Silom Thai Supermarket.
If you need a pick-me-up after a day's worth of exploration, stop at Nuch Massage for a traditional Thai massage. End your visit by waiting in line for the famous boat noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop, rated best of LA by food critic Jonathan Gold.
Day 3: Cook your way through K-town
While Koreatown only encompasses three square miles in the mid-Wilshire part of town, it's one of the densest places in the city, according to the L.A. Times. With the unique smells, spices and activities, it's hard not to feel like you're outside of North America.
To prepare for the day, opt for a morning Boba tea or stop at Hwa Sun Ji Tea & Coffee for traditional teas to help nurture digestion and mental health. After a stroll through the bustling neighbourhood, head down South Vermont Ave to Parks BarbequeOpens in a new window in your browser, nominated for best Korean BBQ and best Korean restaurant in Los Angeles, for lunch. There, you'll grill your own slabs of meat, like pork belly and chicken bulgogi (or veggies, for a lighter midday option).
For an afternoon treat, make your way to Anko for shaved iced, where you can sample flavors like oreo cream cheese or black sesame. After you recharge on the patio of Document Coffee Bar, gear up for a night at Cafe Jack—named after the Jack Dawson character from James Cameron's hit Titanic. The massive space, decorated with year-round Christmas lights, is complete with various rooms and heart memorabilia (it is after all, the heart of the ocean) to dine and indulge in karaoke.
If you're up for it, end your night in a private karaoke room at Feel Karaoke, a BYOB joint with your favourite hits that's open until 2 am.
Day 4: Pre-flight relaxation
For your final day in Los Angeles, it's about time for some California relaxation. Cruise through Echo Park for a final coffee or matcha tea at Eightfold Coffee before your well-earned spa day. There are many spas in Koreatown to choose from, but a town favourite is one of the newest additions, Wi SpaOpens in a new window in your browser.
Splurge on a manicure, pedicure or facial or mineral salt massage, and because it's open 24 hours, soak in your final hours of relaxation before you hop on your flight home.
Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CIBC or their partners.
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