These are Carol Liao's tips for visiting Los Angeles from the The Artificial City Guide, published in 2017. Read all about it!

Los Angeles

United States

Neighborhood Guide

Just a handful of Los Angeles’s many neighborhoods will keep you busy for a week. Here are some of my favorites.


An upscale neighborhood with boutique shopping and great restaurants. Also, they say it is one of the best places to spot celebrities, if that's your thing.

Culver City

Known for its movie-making history, this neighborhood has recently become one of the best nightlife scenes, with a variety of pubs and cocktail bars.

Downtown Los Angeles

Until recently, DTLA hasn't had much love. Now, it's home to a plethora of rooftop bars and unique restaurants, all intermingled with historic sites and cultural landmarks.

Ocean Park

Just a bit further down from the infamously crowded Santa Monica beach, you'll find a similar beach-side shopping vibe but built for locals. There are also some great restaurants.

Echo Park

Echo Park is another neighborhood that has recently undergone big changes. It's a great area to find local music and hasn't yet been completely gentrified.


Commonly associated with UCLA, this neighborhood is a cozy college town. It's one of the rare places in LA where you can get around to almost anything easily on foot or by bike.

See & Do

La Brea Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits are a National Natural Landmark. Take a walk around the tar pits themselves and then visit the museum to see the fossils excavated from those very pits.

Venice Beach Bike Path

A beautiful and easy way to get between Santa Monica promenade and Venice boardwalk. Rent a bike and wind down the beach at your own pace.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum in LA. It's right next to the La Brea Tar Pits as well as a handful of other museums and galleries.

The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

You don't need to be religious or spiritual to appreciate the beauty of this lake shrine. The fellowship is a peaceful place open for all, regardless of religion or belief.

Franklin Canyon Park

Skip the star-spotting crowds at Runyon park and head to one of the lesser-known, but equally beautiful hiking trails in the Santa Monica mountains where the view is great!

Griffith Observatory

If you're a movie-buff, you'll probably recognize this iconic hill-top building. Visit the Griffith Observatory for the exhibits, the view, the architecture, or one of their many events.

The Last Bookstore

Walking through this bookstore is an experience in itself. Tunnels made of used books and a second floor dedicated to art makes this unlike any bookstore you've ever visited. Be ready to enter fantasy land!

Olvery Street

Olvera street is a colorful and festive historic district. The street is packed with Mexican craft and food shops. Don't leave without trying one of the many tamale stands!

Pacific Coast Highway

If you're visiting LA, I'm assuming you did what most sane people would do and rented a car. If you get up early enough to avoid rush hour, the experience of driving along the coast with your windows down and music blaring is well worth it.

The Original Farmer's Market

A historic market with over 100 grocers, specialty shops, and restaurants. It is a favorite among the locals and tourists since 1934. There's something for everyone here! It is also easy to reach by public transport.


One Thing

Getty Center

If you have time for only one thing, make sure to visit the Getty Center. This famous art foundation is a museum, conservation institute, and research institute situated atop Brentwood hills. It boasts a vast collection of art housed in stunning architecture and surrounded by panoramic views of the city that rival the art itself.

As a visitor, you'll arrive at the foot of the hill and take their cable-pulled tram up to the top of the hill – a great experience in itself. Be sure to wander the gardens and enjoy lunch on the grass between visits to their four pavilions. Oh, and did I mention admission is free?

Food & Drink

Upper West

Upper West is a great place for a nice dinner and cocktail that doesn't break the bank.


My favorite speakeasy. Hidden in the back room of a well-known sandwich shop, the atmosphere and drinks are truly spectacular.


For those familiar with Xiao-long-bao, a Taiwanese specialty, ROC's XLB rivals that of the global chain Din Tai Fung's. If you've never tried it before, now is the time!

Seven Grand

This whiskey bar has a great selection of whiskey and cocktails with an atmosphere to match. Live music, billiards, and old-school library decor make this one of the classiest watering holes.

Lula Cocina

This restaurant serves a variety of Mexican dishes and has a great bar and patio to enjoy margaritas at, after your day at the beach.


Downtown LA is famous for its rooftop bars. Perch is my favorite. Slightly less pretentious than some of it's neighbors – you can even show up in just jeans!

Baja Buds

Though LA has many competing Mexican fast food chains, this one is my personal favorite. Try something from the grill!

LA Café

LA Café is a 24 hour café in the heart of Downtown LA. A great place to end the night, or start your morning. Their large menu has enough to satisfy munchies at any time of the day.

Fresh Corn Grill

What started as a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall has quickly grown to accommodate their hungry fans. A great spot for a fresh and healthy lunch, or get it to-go and have excellent picnic food.


No LA food list is complete without In-N-Out. Though it's a chain in a handful of states, if you've never had it, you can't leave without trying it!


If there was any café that was "so LA", this is it. The bakery and café uses organic and farmer's-market ingredients in all their delicious pastries and dishes.

Reddi Chick BBQ

This walk-up stand is located in the Brentwood Country Mart and serves the best rotisserie chicken and fries. Order at the counter and sit out in the market's dining patio.