A few weekends ago Heather, my good friend, and Popover photographer, came to visit me in Los Angeles. We had been coordinating a trip ever since I moved back from Ann Arbor so I was determined to make her vacation memorable. The week prior had been horribly hot and the charm of a vintage Hollywood apartment quickly dissipates when it’s 95-degrees in your living room and the little fan on the mantle can’t push air fast enough. Needless to say I was imagining a pretty uncomfortable stay for my guest. Luckily the heat broke and dropped to a dry 80 meaning Los Angeles was ready to embrace my winter-weary friend with open arms. The magical part of entertaining a guest is that you really have to think outside of the box when planning the itinerary. Embarrassingly enough I didn’t really know where to start when hand picking those quintessential LA things to do and see because my daily routine was so engrained in my every action. And so, when we both jumped into the car to get our packed weekend going there were really two tourists coming along.

First stop was that iconic sign, those jagged white letters that perch above the basin of LA. Rather than just pointing to the Hollywood sign we saw the sight from the Griffith Observatory. This is one of the few spots where travelers and locals alike flock to every weekend. The gorgeous curve of the planetarium juts perfectly over the cliff giving an unobstructed view of the valley to downtown, across Hollywood, and then to a far glimpse of the sparkling Pacific. I prefer the scene from the side views which highlight the staggered mountain ranges just north of downtown. From there we decided to tour Silverlake and window shopped along the little nook where Sunset and Santa Monica join. We eyed incredible blocks of cheese at The Cheese Store of Silverlake then arranged imaginary bouquets while wandering through Clementine Floral Works. We searched for blankets and candles at Reform School before jumping in the car yet again to journey into the city to visit Grand Central Market. I had heard so many intriguing stories about the public market’s amazing transformation, but I never found a reason to make it down there until that day. The moment we walked in I felt a little guilty for not taking advantage of the endless food stands and produce stalls sooner. Newcomers like G&B Coffee now share counters with the originals like China Cafe and Las Morelianas. We picked up small prosciutto and fig sandwiches from DTLA Cheese and sat on the patio of Horse Thief, under the trees, to enjoy a late afternoon snack. This is when the local tourist feeling really kicked in along with the feeling that I had just discovered a gem in my own backyard.

The evening took us to the opposite side of town, up the hill, and onto the bluffs of Brentwood to see a concert in the courtyard of The Getty. This is another spot that brings together a diverse mix of people picnicking, taking in a few exhibits, or just wandering through the gorgeous gardens and buildings. We learned that there would be a concert that evening as part of the Saturdays Off the 405 series, so it was the perfect excuse to visit the museum at dusk for a few photos pre-concert before listening to a new-to-us musician. Our day-long city road trip turned into an adventure for me just as much as it did for Heather, which included a mixture of my go-to spots and places I hadn’t thought to visit in years. It felt refreshing breaking past the usual excuses of traffic, parking, or routines and to spend the day as a tourist in my own town. Of course, I had to bring a little familiarity to the trip so the evening wrapped up in my favorite hole in the wall Mexican restaurant for margaritas and tacos. I guess some things just have to remain the secrets of the locals.

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Photos by HMN Photography