After spending spring break at home in sunny Los Angeles, I compiled a list of essential spots to take my college friends when they come down to visit. From beaches and hikes to restaurants and coffee shops, here are four nontouristy places to keep at the top of your itinerary when visiting LA.
Alfred Coffee Studio City
Starting your busy weekend off with a delicious caffeine boost is essential — when in LA, Alfred Coffee Studio City is absolutely the way to go. The menu is filled with delicious classics, ranging from their world-famous iced vanilla lattes to breakfast burritos made with eggs, bacon and tater tots. This specific location in Studio City is the perfect place to grab your coffee and catch up with friends before you head out to other parts of LA. It’s not too crowded like other coffee shops, and it’s surrounded by families and locals rather than tourists. Next time you’re scrambling to find a coffee shop to satisfy your caffeine cravings, try out Alfred Coffee Studio City.
Runyon Canyon Park
Take advantage of the afternoon sunshine by hiking in Runyon Canyon Park located less than 15 minutes from Alfred Coffee and right next to the heart of Hollywood. This park is home to various routes suitable to anyone’s liking, whether that be high-intensity trails or leisurely strolls alongside dogs you’re bound to encounter. Unlike the typical views from Mount Hollywood Trail or Griffith Observatory, hiking on Runyon takes you right up to the sign. This hike also gives you the opportunity to take the best Instagram photos ever, where the background and lighting will always be in your favor.
Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery
LA is typically well-known for its endless vegan options available at most restaurants. While it’s a good feeling to know that most dietary needs can be met while out in LA, not all vegan restaurants are made equal. Fortunately, Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery is a win for vegans and nonvegans alike. With dishes such as BBQ pulled “pork” jackfruit sandwiches, buffalo cauliflower wings and even fresh kombucha on tap, you’re bound to find something you’ll like. You can enjoy your food indoors with its warm and rustic ambiance, outdoors under the patio lights or even place a to-go order so you can dig into your meal while heading to your next destination.
El Matador Beach
You definitely don’t want to miss out on the infamous SoCal sunsets, but finding a beach other than those surrounding Santa Monica Pier can be a challenge — especially if you want to avoid major crowds. El Matador Beach is the perfect spot to drive up to and watch the sunset right from the comfort of your own car thanks to the blufftop parking. But if you have the time to climb down the stairs and onto the clean, fresh sand, it gets even better. Around a 30-minute drive north of Santa Monica, this beach has tall sand cliffs and sea caves that make you feel like you’re in a secluded beach resort. Whether you’re in the mood for watching the waves from your car or capturing the sunset from the sand, El Matador Beach is a go-to spot.
Next time you find yourself heading down to Southern California and have a free weekend to explore, visit these places to feel like the ultimate LA local.