Coming to NACW and staying for the weekend? Our recommendations for weekending in LA

April 2, 2015

If you’re planning on attending NACW 2015, we definitely recommend staying for the weekend in Los Angeles to take advantage of LA’s sunshine, sights, and recreation! Please check out our staff recommendations for weekending in LA below. Thanks!

bikes mbpier Bike ride on the Strand, two suggested routes:

  1. Rent a bike at the Santa Monica Pier, ride north for lunch at Patrick’s Roadhouse, then south to experience Venice Beach, then back to the Pier.
  2. Rent a bike at the Manhattan Beach Pier and ride south to experience the Beach Cities. Ride to the Redondo Beach Pier and have lunch, then stop in Hermosa Beach for a drink or snack on your way back north. If you start this route early, stop for breakfast at Scotty’s in Hermosa rather than lunch in Redondo.

I wish this is what I was doing right now.

bike path A drive up the coast into Malibu (with lots of stops in between):One of my favorite things to do with visitors to LA is take them for a drive up the coast. Make sure you do it during daylight to enjoy the view! Better yet if you can rent a convertible for the day….. Start by taking the 10 Freeway West to where it dead ends at the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) by the Santa Monica Pier. From there, you will start driving north along the beautiful California Coast. You can start with a trip to the Santa Monica Pier with rides, a ferris wheel, and a historic carousel dating back to the 1922 (if you actually want to go to the pier, it’s actually best to exit the freeway at 4th St before hitting PCH). As you drive north, you will pass Santa Monica and then Pacific Palisades up on the bluffs above PCH. Sunset Blvd hits PCH at that point and you can stop at Gladstones for Fish for a bite to eat or to watch the surfers.

Keep heading north, and you will pass the Getty Villa, which is modeled after a Roman Villa, has amazing ancient art, and is free (except for parking). Once you pass the Getty you will enter Malibu’s “27 miles of scenic beauty” . Duke’s Barefoot Bar in Malibu will be on your left soon after, and this place boasts the best fish tacos in all of LA (no joke), as well as a fantastic outdoor patio at the barefoot bar. Next you’ll pass the iconic Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon, and the historic Adamson House. A great place to watch the surfers (or try yourself) or just enjoy the beach! There are places to rent surfboards, paddle boards and kayaks on PCH (I recommend former the former Malibu mayor’s shop: Zuma Jay’s). Just north of Surfrider Beach is the Cross Creek Shopping center, with tons of great food and shopping options (as well as some of the best celebrity sightings in all of LA)…. Keep heading north, and if you didn’t stop for food yet, grab some Fish & Chips (or some fresh fish to BBQ later) at Malibu Seafood on PCH.
Malibu has some incredibly beautiful, secluded beaches as you continue the drive north; plan to stop at one of them! Some great ones (in order, as you head north) Zuma, El Pescador, El Matador, Nicholas Canyon and Leo Carrillo (which includes an interpretive center). Keep heading north, and you can get more fish tacos at Neptune’s Net (featured in lots of movies, most notably Point Break and the Fast and the Furious), which is located at the northern border of Los Angeles County. You can keep driving north to Point Magu, but after Neptune’s Net, there aren’t too many more outposts until you get to Oxnard. Whenever you want, turn around and start heading back. The drive is even more gorgeous going south on the Oceanside of PCH!

If you’re sticking around the LA area after NACW2015, I would highly recommend heading south to visit the beaches of Orange County. You can even travel as far as Oceanside using the Metrolink Weekend pass which is good for unlimited systemwide for only $10. It’s a great way to avoid the traffic and enjoy some of California’s breathtaking coastline, not to mention the lower carbon footprint!
The Salton Sea is a beautiful post-apocalyptic juxtaposition of nature, recreation and desolation approximately 2 hours out from downtown LA. You’ll see herons flying over the still sea, crunch fossilized fish carcasses underneath your feet, smell the rotting spoils of massive fish die-offs, and walk among the ruins of dilapidated structures at Bombay Beach. It’s breathtaking. Also, Salvation Mountain and Slab City are a short drive away. An easy day trip if you are so inclined.
If you’d rather stay more local, LA’s got some great museums that are accessible by public transit. You can walk to MOCA Grand and MOCA Geffen, take the bus to LACMA, or take the Expo Line to the Natural History Museum and California Science Center.
heather-hike2 City Hike:
Put on your running shoes and hit the trails at Griffith Park. Easy to access by car or transit, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the city and lots of photo ops. Trails are easy to moderate, sandy and wide, and you can walk multiple loops depending on how long you want to hike. Bring a bottle of water since there is little tree cover on the trails.
Forest Hike:
In the Angeles National Forest, the Sturtevant Falls hike is one of my favorite hikes close to the city. You’ll need a car to get there (and arrive early for prime parking) and the drive is about 30 to 45 minutes (accounting for traffic). 3.25 mile out-and-back hike with tree-covered trails, stream crossings, camping cabins, and plenty of spots to stop for a snack. Don’t worry, the hike is easy to moderate and well-traveled, so running shoes are all you’ll need.
Getaway with Hiking Option:
If you want to head out to Palm Springs for some relaxation, you might want to consider taking the tram up Mt. San Jacinto. The tram takes you 5,873 ft up the mountain to an elevation of 8,516 ft. The views of the desert are unparalleled. Once at the top, you can eat at a restaurant, bring a picnic lunch and sit outside, or go for a short (or long!) hike. The full hike to the peak is a high elevation, 11.5 mile out-and-back, moderate to difficult hike and will take you all day, requiring proper hiking gear. Temperatures cool 30 degrees from the bottom to the top of the tram ride, so pack some layers.
Corsican Dining in West Hollywood:
The Napoleon & Josephine restaurant in West Hollywood has a French countryside atmosphere and amazing food. The restaurant can easily handle gluten-free needs. It’s a perfect date location or for small-group dining. Excellent wine list and dessert options too! Price range $$$
Day/Night Spa:
The Wi Spa in Koreatown is somewhere you can go to relax for an entire day or night (the spa is open 24/7!) and gives you tons of treatment options. Soak in cold pools or hot pools, get a massage, relax in hot saunas or cold rooms, workout in the gym, grab a snack, and have a nap. It has it all! The spa is for women, men, and children.
stephen-bouldering San Jacinto provides a excellent refuge from the heat and hustle of the Los Angeles region. I go to San Jacinto to escape the crowded atmosphere of Los Angeles and get some much needed fresh air. Besides bouldering, San Jacinto State Park offers a well maintained trail system. You can top out the peak at approximately 10,000 feet and see all the way to the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. The park offers ample bird watching and wild life viewing opportunities. I’ve seen multiple mule deer and reported lynx in the area.
  1. Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve – A little bit of a drive outside LA, but is a must-see for anyone interested in nature photography or a scenic trail walk. They seem to be having a bit of an early season this year, so check the website before you go to make sure the poppies are still in bloom! (
  2. The Greek Theater – The Greek is one of LA’s best outdoor concert venues (it’s located among the trees in Griffith Park), and is one of my favorite places for a show. I’ll actually be there after NACW this year for the Decemberists.