Find things to do in Los Angeles with these 13 must-have apps
Check out these (mostly) free essential apps to guide your 21st-century thumbs through the best things to do in Los Angeles
Tue Jan 14 2014
You already can't spend half a lunch break without your smartphone, tablet or other rectangular gizmos of the modern age, but why would you when the key to mastering all of the great things to do in Los Angeles lies within the click of a 'download' button? Look no further for the top 13 apps every Angeleno simply must acquire for everything—for navigating the most secluded public beaches in LA and beyond, finding the nearest farmers' markets, and snagging cheap eats. You can even hook up with LA's dog-lover community (yes, they've invented social media for non-human species). You should probably start preparing your storage settings now.
Photograph: Courtesy Our Malibu Beaches
Our Malibu Beaches
Any sunbather who's ever taken a Frisbee to the forehead amidst the masses at Venice Beach knows that finding a quiet stretch of seaside in this city is a priceless thing. Thankfully, this streamlined app provides maps, instructions and underground tips to accessing the most peaceful public beaches along the 20-mile Malibu coastline—many of which look off-limits to the general public. Our Malibu Beaches informs us that "there’s no such thing as an all-private beach in California," and, in the spirit of cashing in on our Golden State rights, this treasure map beckons you to browse the x's that mark the spots. Tap the tree symbols for photos of each beach, advice on how to find hidden entryways, the scoop on which "No Trespassing" signs are legal to ignore and other inside info.
Photograph: Courtesy Dog Land
- Critics choice
Angled at Angelenos who thrive amongst the four-legged, this social networking app allows you to search and rate local dog-friendly restaurants, parks, apartments, hotels and other businesses, all the while connecting with fellow pooch enthusiasts. Browse "paw ratings" of trending veterinarians in the neighborhood as you "mark your territory" (the canine equivalent of "checking in") at your favorite holistic pet store. Post a photo of you and your rescued Pomeranian mix and you might just attract a pup-owning neighbor or two for potential play dates or dog sitting. The app is free and the reviews under its former name, Where My Dogs At, were extensive—as it turns out, puppies and the Internet go very well together (a surprise to no one).
Photograph: Courtesy Gratafy
- Critics choice
Available only in Seattle and our fair metropolis, this unique app (Android link) allows you to send virtual gifts to friends and coworkers in the form of menu items from restaurants and bars around LA. Here's how it works: You start by surfing through the lip-smacking roster of drinks and foodstuffs found throughout the city, from wheat beers at Little Bear to plates of jalapeno mac and cheese at The Hudson. Then, you choose an item and a recipient, pay through the app and the lucky giftee will get the message via Facebook, email or text. You can also connect the app to your own Facebook profile to see which of your friends have upcoming birthdays—this way you can buy them drinks without having to schlep all the way to the Valley for their Wednesday night soirée. This thing is perfect for gifting at the last minute, from out of town or for when you're held up at work and can't make it to your buddy's bachelor party. Plus, the download is free.
Photograph: Courtesy Modern Hiker
LA's Best Hikes by Modern Hiker
- Critics choice
Crafted by the same network as Our Malibu Beaches, this informative tool guides urban supertramps across a map of worthwhile hikes in Southern California. Tap each of those familiar tree symbols to find images of the terrain, info on mileage, elevation and crowds, as well as thorough descriptions of the experience on each specific trail. The app details an eclectic range of hikes within an hour's drive, from reports of Studio City's Fryman Canyon as "Runyon without the crowds" to the skinny on rustic excursions throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. The app costs $1.99, weeding out any freeloading outdoorsmen.
Photograph: Courtesy California Farmer's Market Finder
California Farmers' Market Finder
This basic but handy service allows you to navigate the 120+ farmers' markets throughout LA (which, predictably, is the city with the most markets in California by a long shot). The app is statewide, but you can filter by city and day of the week to locate farmers' markets, big and small, across any and all LA neighborhoods. Click each pin on the map to find schedule information, directions and a link to the market's website, if it has one. The app doesn't provide photos or reviews, but at this point, we Angelenos know what to expect from events of this sort—organic kale, artisan shortcakes, fresh-cut hyacinths—we're well-versed in the typical goods. This convenient tool simply shows us where and when to find them.
Photograph: Courtesy KCRW
For 99 cents, you can livestream all three KCRW (Android link) channels—On Air, Music and News—directly from this Webby Award-nominated app. Listen to the beloved station's eclectic programming and tunes in real time as the names of artists and songs pop up conveniently on your screen. Or, choose from more than 50 on-demand shows from each program for an audio marathon (an exclusive privilege to app users). Bookmark song titles from the station's tracklists, so you can remember your favorites and share them later; once your buddies receive an email from your KCRW Radio playlist, your app collection is bound to get some serious cultural cred.
Photograph: Courtesy Waze
Maybe this community-based navigation app (Android link) isn't news to you, and it may not be exclusive to Los Angeles, but our traffic-centered lifestyle renders Waze particularly crucial. What makes this free app popular, and rightfully so, is its skillful use of crowdsourcing: users report traffic jams, roving police officers and accidents from their car to the app in real time, and this collected information helps reroute you to a faster path. What follows is typically a pleasant excursion down unassuming side streets, some of which you may have never considered, but all of which get you from your office in Brentwood to your home in Marina del Rey twenty minutes faster than the wreck-laden 405 would. Ultimately, Waze combines an accurate, detailed layout of LA roads with invaluable live tips from drivers (whom the app rewards in points), all within a user-friendly interface that won't distract you behind the wheel. You'll end up with a quicker commute every time, as well as an undeniable sense of schadenfreude as you whiz past the crowds.