LA Hacks: A Guide to Los Angeles from a Native Angeleno

I recently took to Instagram to learn more about what you, the reader, wants to see more of in terms of content. My aim is to provide value, a reason for people to want to continue following me, or reading my blog. If I am not putting out useful and/or information, then what is the point?

I posted an open-ended question on my Instagram story, asking, “What kind of content do you want to see more of?” and I received a lot of responses requesting LA-specific content.

Being from Los Angeles, I do happen to know the city like the back of my hand. After 30-something years of living here, I definitely know some secret spots, shortcuts, and off-the-menu items one would not otherwise know about.

Here, a guide to hack Los Angeles like a local, from an LA-insider.


  • If you are a tennis player, you will love these courts. On top of the West Hollywood Public Library lies three courts, open to the public, which boast some of the best views of the city. My favorite time to go is sunset, where you can watch the sun go down over Los Angeles while you play in perfect weather.
  • Although Runyon Canyon is my least favorite hike in LA, I can appreciate their free daily yoga classes.
  • Speaking of yoga, although not free, I love the studio on top of the Alo Yoga store in Beverly Hills, which has an open air room with an outdoor deck which you can chill on with a coffee (from their cafe downstairs) after class.
  • Another yoga favorite — you can do yoga ontop of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. It is available exclusively for private groups of up to 25 people, per session.


  • Have you ever been to a drive-in movie? Look no further than the new drive-in movie experience at The Grove. The Grove teamed up with the Petersen Automotive Museum, car dealership O’Gara Coach, and Citi to turn the garage’s open-air eighth floor (with surprisingly stunning views) into a rooftop cinema, with popcorn, and dinner delivery. Entrance is free, but you need to make prior reservations.
  • If you are into magic, there is a little known establishment on the east side, much like the Magic Castle, but maybe cooler. Between the 1910s and 1950s, Brookledge was the place to see vintage magic from performers like Houdini and Orson Welles. Now again, since 2009, this 70-seat theater (found in the backyard garden of the Larsen family’s private home) has once again been staging the Brookledge Follies — a vaudeville-style lineup of skilled magicians, contortionists, burlesque dancers, ventriloquists, and more. Brookledge operates as an underground club; to attend, you’ll need to either get an invite from or donate to their renovation efforts.
  • Another place for magic is Magic Bar, hidden in an Encino strip mall. On Mondays and Tuesdays, head upstairs into gastropub Woodley Proper and enter the unmarked sliding wood door to find up-close magic tricks (performed by Magic Castle headliners, no less).


  • If you’re sick of setting up shop at your local coffee shop, try a change of scenery, and a very pretty one at that. On top of Restoration Hardware’s Melrose store is a beautiful rooftop olive garden, open to the pubic, complete with comfortable RH furnishings and private nooks to chill out and do your work from, WiFi included.
  • If you are sick of setting up shop at your local coffee shop, and just want to try a new one, check out my post on all the best places to work in LA.


  • Did you know that you can get 50% off at Cecconi’s every Monday night? If you join “Friends of Cecconi’s” and/or are a Soho House Member, enjoy 50% off your bill every Monday for up to 4 people.
  • Do you love In n Out burgers? Me too. But what I love eve more is their secret menu. You can go beyond the basic double double and shake, ordering items that many don’t know exist. Try the Flying Dutchman (two patties with cheese in between), Protein Style (lettuce wrapped burger instead of bun), Cheese Fries (self explanatory), 4×4 (a very aggressive burger with 4 patties), Root Beer Float, Animal Style Burger (extra everything), or Fries Well Done (because who likes soggy fries?)
  • LA is unlike NY in that it is a much earlier city. Things close earlier due to most businesses having to stop serving alcohol at 2am. There is, however, a few restaurants that stay open 24/7 serving food. If you find yourself starving at 4am, try checking out The Original Pantry Cafe in DTLA or Canter’s Deli on Fairfax.
  • Yes, everyone knows the Melrose Place and Beverly Hills Sunday Farmer’s Markets. But did you know there are other Farmer’s Markets in the city that are maybe even better? Try Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays or Studio City on Sundays.


  • Beneath Townhouse in Venice is Del Monte.  They host live music, comedy and burlesque shows in this former speakeasy that actually operated during Prohibition. To get inside, you enter through Menotti’s grocery store.
  • I bet you haven’t thought about going to the Westfield Century City Mall to grab a cocktail in a speakeasy. Think again. Situated on the second level of Del Frisco Steak House at the Westfield Century City Mall is The Edith, which is a beautiful secret bar which immediately transports you back to the 1920s.
  • Michael’s, a staple Santa Monica restaurant which has been around forever, has a $1.79 cocktail of the day, every day, for a 30-minute window from 5:30-6pm.


  • When I am feeling stressed, or want some peace and quiet, I head to the westside to the little-known Self Realization Center. While this area was once a film studio (it was first the silent-era Inceville, then a part of 20th Century Fox), today this is one of the most peaceful spots in the city. Owned by the Self-Realization Fellowship, the ten acres include a temple, a shrine, and a meditation garden – all are open to the public. But don’t try to bring your dog, they will definitely not allow them to enjoy their gardens, sadly.
  • Many museums in L.A. are always free, such as the Hammer, the Getty, and Griffith Observatory.  Most of the others have a free museum day. LACMA is free on the second Tuesday of every month (and every weekday after 3 p.m. for residents with ID); MOCA is free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.; both the La Brea Tar Pits and the Natural History Museum are free on the first Tuesday of every month except in July and August.


  • Greystone Mansion is a great place to take a walk, or have a picnic. The 18-acre grounds in Beverly Hills is the former Doheny Estate. It is now a park and open every day to the public. The opulent mansion at its center, the former 55-room home of Edward ‘Ned’ Laurence Doheny (who was found shot dead in the house only five months after moving in) is open only for special events through the Friends of Greystone. If you get invited to an event there, I highly recommend attending because the interior is eerily creepy, but also very cool.
  • If you enjoy architecture, visit the Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first project in LA. The home built for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall and was completed in 1921. The center of the Barnsdall Art Park, the residence – named for Barnsdall’s favorite flower, a design motif incorporated into the house – is open for tours Thursday through Sunday.


  • Between the traffic, the parking, long TSA lines, LAX is a nightmare. Treat yourself right and fly out of Burbank – a.k.a. Bob Hope Airport – which looks like a Lego set version of a 1960’s airfield. Less traffic, fewer people, boarding right on the tarmac, and best of all, long-term parking lots that are close enough to actually walk from your car to your terminal, or reasonably priced valet which washes your car upon arrival!
  • Stressed about “getting over the hill”? Smartly going over the Santa Monica Mountains from the city to the dreaded San Fernando Valley aka “The Valley” is a rite of passage for any Angeleno. The 405 freeway? Laurel Canyon? Only for rookies. Instead, take a lesser known canyon, like Benedict. Or take the super-secret Roscomare Road by starting, on the city side, at Bellagio Road, which turns into Roscomare. Make a right on Mulholland and left on Woodcliff, which should gracefully deposit you on Valley Vista Boulevard just to the east of Sepulveda.
  • Can’t find parking at night, or don’t want to pay the stupid $20 valet fee? I can’t believe I am giving away this hack, but it might just be my best one. Please, don’t quote me on this, though. I am a mere civilian, but according to a Los Angeles Municipal Code, you can park for free and legally at any yellow curb after 6pm, and on Sundays.
  • When driving to Malibu on a beautiful, clear, sunny day, you may (probably) find yourself in gridlock traffic on the 10. Instead, do what the locals do and bypass the freeway altogether. Instead, take San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood to 7th street, cutting down to the Palisades and PCH.
  • If you are looking to rent an Airbnb in Los Angeles, my friends at YoreOyster have compiled a list of the 12 best Airbnb’s in LA.


  • Being from Malibu, I grew up going to the beaches there, many of which were hidden and/or private, not accessible to just anyone. But now, things are different. A recent law was passed by the California Coastal Commission stating these private beaches must have public access. So next time you head to Malibu, skip Zuma, and try out Carbon Beach, La Costa, Las Flores, or Broad Beach.
  • Baseball fan? Catch a Friday night home game at Dodger Stadium and stay for fireworks after, where you can view them directly on the field.


  • One of the best hacks I found in LA, particularly in exploring some of its essential parts, is the thrill and adventure brought about by a Los Angeles Scavenger Hunt. Companies like CityHUNT, for instance, can provide you and your co-workers a more exciting  way of visiting the best of LA. By setting up a scavenger hunt and a host of other games that will help you connect and strengthen your bond as workmates, you’ll be able to enjoy some of LA’s most beautiful sites like Manhattan Beach, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica among others. It’s a team-building activity like no other because you’re able to explore LA while enhancing  working relationships. That’s like shooting two birds with one stone. To book a hunt, simply go online and head over to CityHUNT’s website so they can help customize a scavenger hunt according to your preferences. They offer games for team building, birthdays, weddings, and holidays to make your visit to the City of Angels an unforgettable one.

The post LA Hacks: A Guide to Los Angeles from a Native Angeleno appeared first on Caviar & Cashmere.

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