The combined letters L and A will most likely conjure up images of Hollywood stars set in pavement; the Kardashian clan and Gwyneth Paltrow's latest diet venture. However, after returning from two weeks in the so-called "city of stars" without even a glimpse of a plastic face, I can assure you that there is so much more to Tinsel Town than celebrities and green juices.
From an entire museum dedicated only to Ice Cream (yes, you get to eat lots of it FOR FREE); to a bar in which it's tradition to throw rubbish all over the floor; to a touching sunset that brings you to tears, THIS is the real Los Angeles. Oh and best of all, every single one of the below is bound to get those Instagram likes to at least double figures...
1. Go To The Museum Of Ice Cream
Credit: Eve Simmons
Imagine a museum where visitors are provided with a sweet treat in each exhibit and you find yourself taking phone calls from Seth Rogen. No, we haven't gained exclusive access to your dreams, this is the deal when you embark on a trip to the Los Angeles Museum of Ice Cream. There are 10 rooms lovingly designed by contemporary artists, all of which provide a unique 'gram' opportunity. There's an ice lolly room, a scoop-your-own gummy bear station and even a GIF maker. Oh and there's literally a swimming pool full of sprinkles. Well, they're plastic but wtv. Eat your heart out Willy Wonka.
Museum of Ice Cream, 2018 E 7TH PLACE LOS ANGELES CA 90021, www.museumoficecream.com, admission $29 for adults, $18 for children
2. Watch The Sunset At The Erwin Hotel
Credit: Eve Simmons
Californian sunsets are a sight to behold, especially when you're surrounded by the beautiful people of Venice beach and are filled with half a bottle of prosecco. Hotel Erwin, slap bang in the middle of uber cool Venice Beach, is a favourite date spot for the LA locals. The rooftop bar boasts the best beach views in Santa Monica, especially when the setting sun sits admits the lilac ombré sky come early evening. Drinks are a little pricey, but go with a pal (or a date) and shade a cheap bottle of wine, giving you just enough time to watch the sunset and say something you may - or may not - regret.
Erwin hotel, www.hotelerwin.com
3. Ride On Horseback Through The Hills
Credit: Eve Simmons
There are a few ways to see the Hollywood sign IRL. If you're the exercising type, you can of course follow one of several hikes up to the sign from Griffith Park starting points. However, when it's 30 degrees and you're on holiday, who the eff really wants to yank on their running trainers? Much better, I think, to have someone - or something - give you a ride. Sunset Ranch in the Hollywood hills offers horseback tours of the trail up to the sign with an extraordinary view of the sign and the surrounding cliff tops. Choose from 1 or 2 hour trails at various points throughout the day. Zero horse riding experience is required (trust me).
www.sunsetranchhollywood.com, from $85
4. Get Crunk At Chez Jay
Credit: Chez Jay
LA might not have a thing for pubs, but they more than make up for it with their dark, dingy and goddam delightful dive bars. A particular gem is Santa Monica's Chez Jays - a stone throw's away from the bustling Santa Monica pier and a local hotspot. With a heaving bar, singular booths and pictures of Hollywood royalty plastered all over the walls, Chez Jays IS the place to be for the beginnings of a wild weekend. There's a selection of proper food available, including steak and salads, however if I were you I'd eat before and opt for bar snacks instead. Customers are served monkey nuts and encouraged to chuck the shell on the floor like a true American hero. Just be sure to watch your feet on the way to the bathroom.
Chez Jay, 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401, www.chezjays.com
5. Rooftop Pool Like It's NBD At Ace Hotel
Credit: Ace Hotel
Ace Hotels are a chain of super trendy, boutique properties, often sought out by the rich and famous for their flyby visits to various cities. Downtown LA's offering is as chic and sexy as expected; with an arty clientele and a modest rooftop pool. Although a night's stay at the Ace will set you back a fair bit, an afternoon spent chilling by the plunge pool, surrounded by the chic set, is pretty much free of charge. The pool, hotel and restaurant are all open to the public and, providing you buy a drink or two and don't behave like a hooligan, you can frolic at your peril. Check the website for full listings of parties - there was a drag queen one on when we popped down and it was Off. The. Chain.
Ace Hotel, 929 SOUTH BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES, CA 90015, www.acehotel.com
6. Be #Arty At The Broad
Credit: Eve Simmons
Now, I'm not exactly #arty, but after a trip to LA's Broad Museum I could well be persuaded to take up a new interest. In the heart of Los Angeles' downtown district, The Broad museum is a contemporary art museum with a difference. Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, the exquisite building offers two floors of gallery space which house some of the most famous and eclectic pieces of modern art in the world. Think Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and even some Picasso - all designed to astound even the most art phobic of visitors. A particular highlight is Yayoi Kusama's
Infinity Mirrored Room which each visitor must enter into alone for a very short, sparkly experience. Best of all, IT'S ALL FREE!
The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, www.thebroad.org, admission free Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012
7. Get A Doughnut From A Vending Machine 'Cause You Can
Who wants a packet of Mini Cheddars or a Twix when you can get an actual cupcake? The Americans sure know how to do a lot of things better than us Brits; including the humble vending machine. Sprinkles cupcakes have popped up in both downtown LA and Beverly Hills and both offer a quick money-to-mouth service in the form of a cupcake vending machine. Simply stick your card in, select your choice of cake and chow-the-hell down.
8. Go For Brunch At Eggslut
It's somewhat of an LA staple for the Californian kids and although you do have to at least like eggs, there is something to help everyone's hangover at Eggslut. Slabs of sumptuous meat are paired with buttery eggs and sandwiched in between a shiny, brioche bun. Grab a salted chocolate chip cookie for the road and you are officially living your best life.
Eggslut, 1611 Pacific Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90291
Summer holiday = sorted.
Written by Eve Simmons
Featured Image Credit: Pexels