Being a tourist in Los Angeles is hard. Star maps show you the best of celebrity front gates and Hollywood Boulevard’s infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame loses its glamour with a barrage of tourists, panhandlers and Scientology. The real Los Angeles offers more than what you see on “The Hills.” Our Top 10 list will show you all the bargains, people, music, art and cultural craziness that locals love and tourists often overlook.

1) Hollywood Sign: This is not a hike for beginners, but if you’re willing to take the journey, the destination is a full-on view of the world’s most famous landmark. This adventure is one of the many near Griffith Park, where the Griffith Observatory (2800 E. Observatory Ave.; is located. Park at the end of Beachwood Drive, and follow the trailhead; it will lead you right behind the Hollywood sign.

2) West Hollywood: Talk about fun for the LGBT, straight or straight questioning. This area right on Santa Monica Boulevard just west of Beverly Hills is an all-out party from Rage’s discotheque atmosphere (8911 Santa Monica Blvd.) to the Abbey’s sophisticated swagger (692 N. Robertson Blvd.; Bring your friends and expect one awesome night.

3) Santa Monica: A classic beach community. Go shopping at Third Street Promenade, just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean where bicycle and surf rentals are available to explore a seaside full of beautiful people. The Santa Monica Pier boasts an array of eateries, clubs and carnival rides, including free weekly concerts, screenings and Saturday morning yoga classes in the summer.

4) Venice Beach: Walking past the street vendors selling local art, sculptures and clothing will literally give you a physical high. This is the place to buy your local bong, watch graffiti artists in motion and listen to dreadlocked poetry. Surfers, skaters, and muscle men all come to play under a sunlit sky; people watching takes on a whole new meaning.

5) Free Museums: So this isn’t exactly a particular Los Angeles neighborhood, but who can resist the visual allure of the finest artistic and intellectual institutes Los Angeles has to offer. The Getty (1200 Getty Center Drive; sits atop the Santa Monica Mountains with a view that’s to die for. It’s free everyday. Joining the Getty in free entry is the Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave.;, and the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd.; is free for students all of the time and for everyone on Thursdays. The Museum of Contemporary Art (two locations at 250 S. Grand Ave. and 152 N. Central Ave.; is free Thursdays after 5 p.m. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd.; offers pay what you wish admission after 5 p.m. everyday and is free on the second Tuesday of each month. The only catch with all these museums is expensive parking ($15 for the Getty, but free after 5 p.m. on Saturdays), so try to take public transportation, if possible.

6) Pomona Art Walk: Every second and last Saturday of the month (Dec. 26) starting at 6 p.m., over 25 galleries host receptions, and many shops, studios and restaurants stay open late. Scoop up some last minute handmade holiday gifts, from jewelry and paintings to ceramics and photography.

7) Spaceland (1717 Silver Lake Blvd.; Located in the artsy Silver Lake community known for mingling hipsters and underground rock music enthusiasts, bands who have premiered at Spaceland include the Arcade Fire and the Killers. Monday nights are a steal because there is no cover to watch up-and-coming local musicians play while you enjoy cheap drinks.

8) The Fashion District: In the heart of downtown, this area is like Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, where wholesale clothing, flowers and anything you can think of is bought and sold. Be sure to visit Santee Alley ( for your shopping fix. You can buy all your souvenirs and an outfit for yourself with the money you saved from the district’s bargains.

9) Amoeba Music (6400 W. Sunset Blvd.; CD stores are turning into endangered species. As Tower and Virgin Records stores close down right and left, Amoeba still stands as a Goliath for music lovers to legally obtain their music. Local and traveling music acts play at this historic two-story venue weekly.

10) The Montalbán Theatre (1615 Vine St.): Cinema Tuesdays presented by Flux ( will make you feel as if you were at your own personal movie premiere. It’s free to the public, but you have to RSVP or get in the standby line early. Enjoy free movie screenings and an after party with a DJ and full bar. It’s as Hollywood as you can get.