There’s more to Los Angeles than famous zip codes and celebrities of all kinds. When you live like a local, you’ll discover captivating natural beauty, a distinctive local culture, and a dedication to satisfying your mind, body, and spirit. Here’s what the real LA is all about, and here’s how you can experience it sustainably – just have your camera ready, because you never know who you might bump into!
All About Venice
Venice Beach is this oh-so-LA beach town, with a colorful flair and a hint of attitude that makes you want to stay all day. And there is plenty to keep you occupied without taking a toll on Mother Earth. To get there, grab a bike at HI Santa Monica and cycle 2.5 miles on the beach (literally, on the beach – there’s a paved path!), and kick up your feet for some epic people watching. After you’ve had the chance to relax, walk along the boardwalk for eclectic street performers, crazy t-shirt stores, and tons of tattoo parlors. When your tummy starts to growl, support local vendors by grabbing a bite from one of the diverse food trucks. And at any point during your visit, your toes can dip into the sand just a few steps away.
Pro tip: Because of LA traffic, taking the bus takes longer than biking!
Green Fact: HI Santa Monica staff help keep our beaches clean by volunteering with Heal the Bay. Join the effort on the 3rd Saturday of each month – just ask a staff member for details.
Los Angeles has a strong Asian influence that goes beyond the iconic Chinese Theater in Hollywood. In Angel’s Gate Park, you’ll find the 12-foot Korean Bell of Friendship, which honors Korean War veterans and celebrates the friendship between our two countries. Set against a million dollar view of the Pacific Ocean, this symbolic statue is in arm’s reach of HI Fullerton. If you’re headed to downtown LA, visit Little Tokyo for an immersion into Japanese culture. You’ll find special events, museums, and delicious cuisine.
Pro tip: Have an evening picnic or BBQ in Angel’s Gate Park and catch an awe-inspiring sunset.
Green Fact: People from more than 180 countries, speaking 140 languages call LA home, making it one of the most diverse cities in the US.
It wouldn’t be an authentic LA experience without engaging in physical fitness during your stay. And this health-crazed town has no shortage of options, from hiking the scenic Temescal Canyon to biking on the beach to joining HI Santa Monica on Saturdays for a downtown walking tour. Or to exercise like a local, try going up and down the Santa Monica Stairs or the Culver City Stairs – and take in some amazing views while you’re at it. Continue supporting your health, as well as local vendors, by grabbing some fresh produce at a local farmer’s markets and cook a healthy meal at the hostel. Venues vary by day of the week, so check with hostel staff for details.
Pro tip: Refuel with healthy cuisine at Tender Greens, a delicious local chain with plenty of vegan options.
Green Fact: With 750 farmers markets, California has more than any state in the US. One of the oldest is LA’s The Original Farmers Market, which has served stars like Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra.
LA is a big place, but there is plenty to do within a few blocks of HI Santa Monica, relying solely on your feet. Enjoy the expansive sandy sprawl just 2 blocks from the hostel and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. When you’re done basking in the sun, stroll down to the famed Santa Monica Pier for carnival games and rides, live music, and some local history. 2 blocks in the other direction from the hostel is the trendy 3rd Street Promenade, known for stylish shops, street performers, and an electric energy that lasts late into the evening. At night, jump one block over to 4th Street for live Jazz, Blues, and Reggae music at Harvelle’s, a local favorite. Santa Monica is an environmental leader within the Los Angeles community, and your support for local vendors and green establishments reinforces this commitment.