Sadly, I won’t be joining in the Synergy fun in Los Angeles. But I’m happy to offer a few tips for somewhat off-the-beaten-path things to do for the lucky Citrites who will be in Los Angeles next week for our big tech conference. I lived in and around Los Angeles for eight years before making the move to Raleigh, and while there are certainly things I don’t miss (traffic, smog, traffic), there are a lot of things I really miss. Here are five of them:
1. Cha Cha Chicken in Santa Monica. Caribbean food, very casual atmosphere, awesome plantains and beans. It’s not fancy. But it’s delicious. And you can stroll up the boardwalk after you stuff yourself full of L.A.’s yummiest Jamaican jerk chicken.
2. Contemporary art at Bergamot Station. After lunch at Cha Cha Chicken, head over to the city’s best collection of contemporary art galleries and see great art by emerging artists in L.A. and beyond. (If you like more a more traditional art scene, you can’t go wrong with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty or my personal favorite, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena — a smaller collection, but nearly every piece is something you studied in Art History 101).
3. OK, this wasn’t there when I lived in L.A., but I wish it had been: The space shuttle Endeavour is now housed at the California Science Center, in Exposition Park near the University of Southern California campus. Exposition Park also is home to fabulous gardens, the Natural History Museum and the California African American Museum — all of which are cool and interesting. But I’d love to see the space shuttle up close and personal.
4. Crepes at Farmers Market. L.A.’s Farmers Market is an amazing sight to behold in its own right: It overflows with fresh produce and every kind of ethnic food you can imagine, 365 days a year. But my favorite way to launch a morning at Farmers Market was at the French Crepe Company, located in the center of the market. Get something sweet and something savory, and add a French press pot to your order. And after you over-stimulate your senses with a tour of the food stands, you can walk over to the adjacent outdoor mall, where you’ll probably see a movie star or two.
5. Downtown. I know — no one goes to downtown L.A. And that’s fine, because it’s nice to keep some treasures to yourself, especially in a city as crowded as Los Angeles. Some of my favorite downtown spots are the truly awesome Walt Disney Music Hall (if you like a good philharmonic performance, check out the L.A. Phil), the decidedly non-Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, and touristy but fun Calle Olvera. The arts, some religion and a churro. So totally L.A.