Los Angeles can be overwhelmingly huge. I have lived here for 5 years and if I go anywhere outside my neighborhood you better believe I’m GPS’ing my way there. With a city so big and traffic so bad, it can make exploring a little difficult. A lot of times my friends will text me asking for something fun and unique to do around LA that isn’t on every BuzzFeed or Thrillist list out there, so I figured I would compile some ideas on Locals Only… since we’re just a little smaller than BuzzFeed. In no particular order, here’s a list of 10 things I have done in and around LA that are worth checking out:
1. Oak Tree Gun Club | 23121 Coltrane Ave, Newhall, CA 91321
This place brings me back to my Missouri roots. You don’t need any training or permits, you can simply show up and rent your gun and shoot some targets. They have an artillery of rentals as well but each genre (Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun) is a separate fee but the guns within that genre are interchangeable… so you can go from a glock to a 9mm to a Clint Eastwood style 6 shooter. They also have Clay and Skeet shooting which not to brag, but I am fucking amazing at. And the kicker, they also have an archery range! The whole place is outdoors so go on a sunny day and have a blast. Plus they have pretty good food for super cheap (and beer but only after you shoot).
2. Summit Mt. Baldy | 8401 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759
This is an all day adventure. Mt. Baldy is the highest peak in the LA County at 10,064 feet. You start the hike at around 6,000 feet and then you have a 10-12 mile roundtrip hike, where you gain an elevation of 4,000 feet. It is not for the faint of heart but definitely the adventurous one. It took me and my friend roughly 6 hours but we stopped and ate lunch at the summit and also took plenty of pictures. You can shorten your hike by taking a chair lift up or down (or both) and thus cutting out around 1-2 miles each way. If you’re so inclined (or declined, ha, see what I did there…sorry) to cheat, I would recommend taking it down since you don’t miss much but some switchbacks on a dirt road. It was a great hike and a must-do for anyone in LA.
3. Angel City Brewery | 216 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Angel City has been around since 1997 but their downtown Arts District facility has only been open for a couple years. It’s a giant brick warehouse that is all open in the front giving it a perfect LA vibe. Go grab some craft beers, play some board games, and hit the food truck they always have on site. Then you can go walk around the Arts District as well, really beautiful murals, tons of restaurants and overall a really cool neighborhood.
4. Vasquez Rocks | 10700 West Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce, CA 91350
This park has 932 acres of incredible rock formations to explore. Named after a famous California bandit who hid out from the law in these rocks (Tiburcio Vasquez) this place has become famous in its own right being featured in several movies, TV shows, and photo shoots (Flintstones, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, FRIENDS etc.). I went out here with some friends to rock climb and couldn’t find any routes, but nonetheless it’s a great area to hike and explore.
(A cool bar with vintage arcade games) | 707 East 4th Place, CA 90013
Because who doesn’t love craft cocktails and beers while playing Ninja Turtles or The Simpsons? They have a killer happy hour and a great pinball lineup. At night they have DJ’s spinning and it becomes a great social blend over your ordinary bar scene. This place is also in the Arts District so add it to your list!
I know, you’re thinking what the f*ck is a Nazi camp doing in LA? Well, there was a group of Nazi supporters in the early 40’s who built a 4-million dollar refuge camp thinking that Germany was going to win the war. They were obviously arrested and the land went vacant for a while, then became an artists compound until it was left completely abandoned. A few original structures still stand and it definitely carries an eerie vibe… it’s a large space so be prepared for around 4 miles of walking.
This is one of my favorite summer activities, especially when friends visit. Not only is kayaking a killer workout – but it’s an awesome way to get out on the water and see some marine life. You can watch the nearby surfers or just take in the sights of the Malibu homes. It’s total relaxation (until you have to paddle in) and a true escape from the noise of LA life. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard for a day or for 2 hours ($20)… bring your GoPro and snorkel/mask to swim around as well. If you’re brave enough to jump ship.
Wineries are cohesive with California. The one most people go to is Malibu Wines
which is a lot of fun and they even have a mini-safari park too… but if you don’t feel like making the trek out there or just want something more casual, Rosenthal is great. They have live music, a food truck, and tons of outdoor seating right across from the beach (and an amazing Thai restaurant next door too). A really fun alternative to the shit show that is often Malibu… both are good, just depends what you’re looking for! But you better have a DD or Uber.
The old zoo and new zoo are within 10 minutes of each other so you can explore both pretty easily. The old zoo was around from 1912-1966 when the new zoo was built and the animals were transferred. It was a small area that only housed around 15 animals but the cages are still in tact so it’s cool to walk around and explore. I went the other day and a kid was having their birthday party in one of the old Tiger exhibits. It doesn’t take too long to walk around so if you have time, go check out the current LA Zoo which is really great. They have over 1,100 animals within a beautiful 133 acre park. Parking is free but the cost of entrance is around $15-20. That includes the cost to pet goats.
I obviously had to have one place involving food on this list… and what better than the Grand Central Market. This place has been around since 1917 and is home to some of the best vendors in all of LA. This vibe and layout reminds me of something you would see in Europe or NYC Chinatown, an open warehouse filled with unique foods, drinks, and people. I went for EggSlut
but I can’t wait to go back and try some other vendors… they really have it all… including one deli that serves some of the best bloody mary’s in all of LA.
Since the weather is pretty great year-round in LA, camping should be on everyone’s list. At least to try it… You don’t necessarily think of LA as a city full of campgrounds but if you head to Angeles National Forest (less than an hour away) you’ll find yourself surrounded by sprawling landscapes and giant oak and pine trees. Plus the elevation gain (around 5-6,000 feet) makes the air clean and crisp and especially chilly at night. Perfect for a fire, some whiskey, and of course some s’mores. I don’t think there is any better weekend getaway than to unplug in nature. If you go – call me… I’m in!
Well that does it for now! Hopefully you enjoyed reading this list and will add these places to your bucket list. Have fun exploring and if you take any pictures be sure to tag @localsonly
so I can see! Plus it would mean someone actually read this and that is neat.
Check out the maps to these places below: