L.A. forever: Why we're never ever leaving Los Angeles

Sunny skies, killer tacos and big dreams—here's why Los Angeles will always have our hearts
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We're so in Love with Los Angeles. This city is equal parts laid-back and forward-thinking; people come (and stay) for that perfect mix of easy-breezy living and ambitious dream chasing. Whoever you are—artist, actor, rocket scientist, surfer—you can find your place and make your mark here. And whether the current national trend is to mock us or to move here in droves, we stay true (Dodgers) blue to L.A., because once you're here, there's so much to explore and so much to love. Here, in no particular order, are some of our very favorite things about the city—the unique and lovely reasons that might just make you want to stick around forever too.

Hidden stairs are everywhere.

You can get a great workout by walking up these vertical sidewalks that date back to the trolley-car era—and take in beautiful views all across the city. The Music Box Steps in Silver Lake (N Vendome St and Del Monte Dr), Beachwood Canyon Stairs in Hollywood (enter near Beachwood Cafe) and Pacific Palisades Castellammare (start at Sunset Blvd and Castellammare Dr) are al on the up and up (and up).

We know how to relax, K-style.

Korean spas are a dime a dozen in L.A. We've adopted the cultural norm of spending hours (sometimes wee morning ones, as many spas are open 24/7) sweating, soaking, napping and generally feeling pretty great—in our birthday suits more often than not.
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You can see a movie star perform stand-up for $8 on a Tuesday.

L.A.'s legendary comedy clubs frequently host pop-ins from big-name stars, and comedians like Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro and Pete Holmes take up regular residencies at Largo at the Coronet. But some smaller, hole-in-the-wall spots harbor to-notch talent for less than a Hamilton: You never know when Aziz Ansari or Maria Bamford might drop by Put Your Hands Together with Camron Esposito and Rhea Butcher at UCB Franklin or Hot Tub with Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal at the Virgil.

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We do brunch better than everyone else.

Trois Familia: Culinary trio Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have created a brunch haven in Silver Lake with Trois Familia. It's both French and Mexican—you're going to love the churro French toast.

Leona: At Venice's Leona, chef Nyesha Arrington pays homage to her multicultural heritage with unique mash-up dishes like the Korean latkes.

Sea Harbour: Love dim sum? Sea Harbour offers made-to-order dishes like cyrstal shrimp dumplings to start your weekend off right.

Republique: Republique's stunning design is just as impressive as its pastries, shakshuka and kimchi fried rice.

Nighthawk Breakfast Bar: Brunch for dinner is a thing. Fuel up on spiked cereal milk and hangover food at Nighthawk Breakfast Bar after the sun's gone down; a more traditional brunch is offered on weekends.

You can get your kicks on and off Route 66.

The historic highway blazed a path from San Bernadino to the Santa Monica Pier and left a legacy of car culture in its wake. Ogle old beautieis inside the galleries of Petersen Automotive Museum, or get your fix of muscle cars and milkshakes at Bob's Big Boy's Friday-night meet-ups.

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Grand Central Market still serves up solid fare and then some.

Grand Central Market has changed considerably since opening in 1917, but the Downtown hub is still one of L.A.'s most revered dining destinations—whether you're after a pastrami sandwich or world-class coffee. Order shrimp tacos with mango salsa at La Tostadería; known back oysters and bubbly at the Oyster Gourmet; shop for locally made bitters at Courage & Craft; slurp up vegan noodles at Ramen Hood or feed your dairy addiction at DTLA Cheese + Kitchen.
James Turrell: A Retrospective
Photograph: Robert Wedemeyer, Photo courtesy Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles.

You can see James Turrell artworks all over town.

The Pasadena native's mesmerizing, cosmic-inspired light installations are scattered around Southern California. Here are a few you can access easily.

Breathing Light + Light Reignfall: Get lost in Breathing Light, one of James Turrell's ethereal "Ganzfeld" color-fields, an ongoing installation at LACMA, or lie down in Light Reignfall's spherical chamber, which is on display there through next May.

Dividing the Light: Pomona College Museum of Art (300 N College Ave, Calremont) has one of the alumnus's signature atmosphere-framing "Skyspace" pieces in the center of its campus, with a lighting program timed to sunrise and sunset.

Hi Test: Spend a night at the swanky Mondrian Hotel and you're sure to run into Turrell's elliptical TV-shaped installations by the elevators on each floor.

Various works: Turrell himself had a hand in redesigning Kayne Griffin Corcoran, a bright, meditative gallery that often hosts his prints and light installations and showcases a permanent "Skyspace" installation.

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Our city characters are larger than life.

Angelyne drives her pink Corvette down Sunset Boulevard, Harry Perry roller-skates and plays his electric guitar on the Venice Boardwalk and Hollywood Jesus dispenses advice and poses for selfies at bus stops. And, of course, we have Batman, Cinderella and all the rest on Hollywood Boulevard.
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There's so much fresh music.

Pop into an indie-music venue like the Echo, the Hi Hat, Bootleg Theater or the Satellite on a Monday night, and you're likely to catch a free show by a local act on the cusp. It could be the next Beck, Foo Fighters or Kendrick Lamar (all of whom played these stages way before they blew up).

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Our strip malls have hidden dining gems.

To celebrate the city's heart-flutteringly good strip-mall eats, we've devised our dream L.A. strip mall: It's diverse, delicious and worthy of battling it out for a parking spot. Here are seven places we'd love to see come together for an all-star culinary lineup.

Baroo: At the sign-less Baroo, chefs Kwang Uh and Matthew Kim serve bowls of fermented vegetables mixed with quinoa and passion-fruit powder, plus a slew of house-made kombuchas.

Petit Trois: Is there a more perfect omelette in the world than the one at Petit Trois? Thanks to chef Ludo Lefebvre, all of our egg dreams have come true.

Joe's Falafel: Joe's Falafel serves arguably the best chickpea balls in the city—not to mention some standout laffa bread.

Jitlada: Set your tonuge ablaze with the off-the-menu Jazz burger at Jitlada, a tiny Thai restaurant with a huge following.

Silverlake Ramen: We're kind of obsessed with the tonkotsu ramen at Silverlake Ramen, and judging by the ever-present line, so is everyone else.

Go's Mart: Phenomenal sushi can be found at Go's Mart, where tuna is topped with gold flakes and the butterfish with truffle oil.

Mashti Malone's: Dessert! When it comes to exotic treats, there's nothing better than a scoop of rosewater ice cream from Mashti Malone's.

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Our taco trucks led the way.

Taco trucks gave birth to L.A.'s food-truck scene long before grilled-cheese sandwiches and lobster rolls were being sold on four wheels. Here are a few notable spots that define our taco truck landscape.

Kogi: This purveyor popularized food trucks with Korean-Mexican mash-ups like short-rib tacos. @kogibbq

Ricky's Fish Tacos: The Eastside truck serves quite possibly the most famous fish tacos in the city. @rickysfishtacos

Guerrilla Tacos: The pirces may be higher, but you get that when your tacos are topped with uni or lamb. @guerrillatacos

Tacos Cuernavaca: You're here for the $2 cecina tacos: thin layers of cured beef topped with onions and chile de árbol salsa. @tacoscuernavaca

Mariscos Jalisco: The seafood truck is best known for its stuffed and fried shrimp tacos dorados. @mariscosjalisco

Free produce is available all year.

Any tree branch that hangs over the sidewalk is technically public property, which means that big, juicy grapefruit is all yours. Snatch it up!

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Photograph: Michael Loccisano

Jeff Goldblum regularly plays jazz at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz, and you can get in for free.

Everyone worships a giant rock.

We packed the sidewalks to see it paraded along city streets, showed up for selfies at its opening and critiqued every facet of its 340-ton Riverside-born body. such is the live of Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass.

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Our scientists are out of this world.

There are Mars-bound rovers hiding in the San Gabriel foothills—and you can visit them. NASA and California Institute of Technology open the doors to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for regular tours as well as an annual open house. Excited by the idea of a reusable rocket? Or a human colony on Mars? You can thank Elon Musk and the rocket scientists at SpaceX in Hawthorne (1 Rocket Rd, Hawthorne) for those lofty—and totally achievable—goals.

The Los Angeles River is a Class II rapid.

It's no Grand Canyon, but you can still get your adrenaline pumping—and see some stunning wildlife–on a sizeable stretch of the L.A. River. Ready to strap on a helmet and get wet? Book a variety of tours from L.A. River Kayak Safari, L.A. River Expeditions or Paddle the L.A. River.

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We have amazing radio stations.

Radio rules ere—which makes the traffic a touch more tolerable. We have three public stations boasting news, entertainment and cutting-edge music. KCRW is one of the best NPR stations in the country and is probably responsible for launching most of your favorite bands. Our college stations—KCSN, KXLU, KXSC—play obscure gems, and 93.5 KDAY supplies back-in-the-day hip-hop hits. Word to your mother.

Red Bull makes November amazing.

Each year, Red Bull packs everything from intimate club shows to a record swap at a wax museum into an entire month of inredible low-to no-cost music for Red Bull Sound Select presents 30 Days in L.A.

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Museum of Neon Art
Photograph: Thomas Hawk/flickr

There's such great neon here.

L.A. might be known for its perpetual sunshine during the day, but at night the city glows just as brightly. Hell, we love our neon so much that we have an entire museum dedicated to the colorful glass tubes. Whether it's golden arches at the oldest McDonald's in the world (10207 Lakewood Dr, Downey) or an Eastside giraffe getting a neck X-ray, our neon landmarks are nostalgia-licked bright spots.

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The Double-Double is also a thing.

Two patties and double cheese is twice as nice at In-N-Out.

Photograph: Courtesy Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, Big Sur and Baja, Mexico are only a drive away.

Joshua Tree, 2 hrs 25 mins
Stay:
The Joshua Tree Inn has a swimming pool for lounging, plus legitimate folklore (folk singer Gram Parsons spent his final hours here).

Eat: Pie for the People pushes out mouthwatering 'za with every topping imaginable (strawberries!?).

See: The Integratron is a gorgeous, dome-shaped structure where you can book the most out-of-this-world sound bath of your life.

Big Sur, 5 hrs 45 mins
Stay: Post Ranch Inn boasts cliffside luxury and stunning architecture.

Eat: Big Sur Bakery makes wood-fired pizzas and fresh pastries in a cozy, forest-side setting.

See: McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a half-mile hike to a stunning—if touristy—overlook above a waterfall that splashes directly into the ocean.

Baja, Mexico, 4 hrs 45 mins
Stay: The private eco-lofts at Encuentro Guadalupe are carved into the hillside of the Valle de Guadalupe wine region.

Eat: Troika doles out elevated alfresco food-truck fare.

See: Hacienda La Lomita offers wine tastings and a peek at what Mexico's wine region has to offer.
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People stay through the credits (and clap!) at the movies.

We invented the cheeseburger—and the French dip sandwich.

In the mid-1920s, Lionel Sternberger accidentally dropped a slice of choose on a burger while working at his father's restaurant in Pasadena. We love your work, Lional. And the French dip? Both Philippe the Original and Cole's lay claim to the origins of this classic, meaty sandwich.

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Our cemeteries are beautiful and filled with famous people.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926)
Mel Blanc a.k.a. Bugs Bunny (1908-1989)
Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957)
Walt Disney (1901-1966)
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)
Janis Joplin (1943-1970)

The inscription on Mel Blanc's headstone? "That's all, folks!"

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