BY MATT JAFFE AND ROBIN JONES
L.A. is a foodie heaven. A family town. An adventure destination. A quirky shopping paradise.
- Main Street, Santa Monica
- Fourth Street, Long Beach
- Larchmont Village, Central Los Angeles
- Sunset Junction, Silver Lake
A big blue sign where Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards meet Sanborn Avenue welcomes you to one of L.A.'s most eclectic shopping districts. Record browsing doesn't get better: Rockaway Records and Vacation Vinyl are a few blocks from each other. The junction is also good for offbeat finds at places like Broome Street General Store, a coffeehouse–gift shop with an astonishing array of T-shirts, jewelry, and books.
- Pedal a Peak, San Gabriel Mountains
- Climb a Rock, Santa Monica Mountains
Long before indoor climbing gyms, rock climbers went outside and climbed real rocks. As youths, some of the world's most famous climbers, including Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, honed their skills in the City of Angels. Want to follow their precipitous paths? Try a half-day climb, suitable for all skill levels, in Malibu Creek State Park with Rock N Rope Adventures. They also lead hike-and-climb treks up 1,713-foot Mount Crags.
- Sky-High Hike, Topanga State Park
- Surf University, Malibu
So you've seen Point Break—the original and the remake—a dozen times. Now live it. Malibu is a surf capital of the world, home to chairmen of the boards like legendary rebel Miki "Da Cat" Dora and Kelly Slater. Chris "Stingray" Stiegler knows a little something about Malibu's waves: He grew up at Point Dume and has coached the Malibu Sharks surf team. Stiegler or one of his pros at Malibu Surf Coach can teach beginners the basics and take advanced surfers out to waves they'd never find on their own. From his house, Stiegler has access via a private trail to the break at Point Dume, where he frequently conducts his lessons. "This is a sacred spot for us," he says. "It's perfect and uncrowded, and I'm excited, superstoked, to get people surfing."
- Pacific Seas, Broadway
- The Apple Pan, Westside
Long before L.A. burgers went haute—wagyu beef, truffle-bacon jam—they were wrapped in wax paper and slapped down on the counter at The Apple Pan. The 26-stool spot on Pico Boulevard has been pleasing carnivores since 1947. Take that first bite of the Pan's hickory burger, its patty blanketed with cheddar cheese and riding high on a base of iceberg lettuce leaves, and you'll never pay 20 bucks for a burger again. 10801 W. Pico Blvd., 310-475-3585
- Grand Central Market, Downtown
- Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle, Sawtelle Boulevard
Less well-known than downtown's Little Tokyo, the west side's Sawtelle Boulevard has been a hub of Japanese life for 100 years. Now it's home to both historic businesses, like the Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery, and to new ones, like Giant Robot, a Japanese pop-culture emporium. But you're here for ramen, and Tsujita L.A. Artisan Noodle sets the standard. The first US restaurant of Tokyo noodle master Kenta Ikehata, Tsujita is celebrated for the luscious, slow-cooked—as in 60 hours—pork bone broth in its char siu tsukemen (topped with thick slices of barbecued pork). Both Tsujita and its new across-the-street annex are popular places: Try to arrive for lunch when it opens at 11, or show up for an early dinner around 5.
- Exposition Park, Los Angeles
- Glitter and Grammys, Downtown
From a distance, it may look as if downtown L.A. consists solely of modern skyscrapers. Far from it: The city's historic core is packed with stunning examples of beaux arts and art deco architecture from the 1920s and '30s, including several shuttered but still resplendent movie palaces from the golden age of film. Architecture-loving grown-ups will marvel at the glittering facades of the Rialto, Million Dollar, and Orpheum theaters, all on Broadway between Third and Ninth Streets. As for the kids, tell them to be patient and then reward them with a visit to the entertainingly interactive Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, where they'll get a chance to mix their own music and get the inside musical scoop on the likes of Beyoncé.
- Will Rogers State Park, Pacific Palisades
- Skirball Cultural Center, Brentwood
Celebrating Jewish life and culture with art exhibits and concerts, the attractively sprawling Skirball has something for everyone. But it's especially good for kids. They get to clamber around an amazing floor-to-ceiling-tall Noah's Ark filled with engaging handcrafted animals from giraffes to lions to camels. All this and pizza or cheese blintzes at Zeidler's Café—what's not to like? (Note: It's a popular Ark—book ahead.)