Our Los Angeles Bucket List: 60 Things To Do Before We Leave

Jennie here.

Assuming we leave by our deadline of September 1st, 2018 (and not earlier), Ivan and I have exactly 530 days in Los Angeles before we give up everything and start our trip around the world.

Since there’s a 0% chance that we will ever settle down in Southern California again, this will definitely be our last opportunity to experience the city of Los Angeles and get the most out of our time here. 17 months may seem like a long time, but when you think of it as all the time we’ll ever have, there’s the added urgency to appreciate every second of it.

In that spirit, I went ahead and created a bucket list of things that Ivan and I are interested in doing before we leave. In keeping with our travel style, I deliberately steered clear of some of the touristy areas.

Griffith Observatory

Here’s the list and what we’ve covered so far:

  1. Enjoy happy hour drinks and live jazz at The Varnish.
  2. ✅ Catch a live Jazz at the Blue Whale Bar in Little Tokyo.
    Jennie's thoughts: This was fantastic! I LOVED this jazz bar -- it was intimate and so refreshing to see some fresh jazz groups play live.
  3. Watch a movie and picnic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
    Ivan's thoughts: we saw Casablanca. Bring a picnic blanket to sit on, some wine and cheese, and dress warmly!
  4. Check out the abandoned LA Zoo.
  5. ✅ Listen to music and buy a record from Amoeba Music.
    Ivan's thoughts: I bought a copy of Curtis Fuller's Blues-ette. Five Spot After Dark!
  6. ✅ Check out Angel's Flight.
    Jennie’s thoughts: It wasn’t functional while we were there but I hear they’re opening it up again because of La La land; it’s in a state of disrepair currently and seedy
  7. See the "modern" art at Bergamot Station.
  8. ✅ Visit the Caravan Bookstore.
    Jennie's thoughts: the owner here gave us some really great advice about traveling across India!
  9. ✅ Buy and sell used books at The Last Bookstore.
    Ivan's thoughts: Selfie taking tourists wouldn’t get out of my way near the second floor decorative book arch of “who gives a shit?” Otherwise, there’s a reasonable selection of used books. 2.5 out of 5. Like most things in downtown LA, everything is covered in a layer of grime.
  10. Check out the goods at Historic Core Farmers Market in Downtown LA.
  11. Lounge around The Huntington Library, art collections, and botanical gardens.
  12. ✅ Go to both of The Getty museums.
  13. ✅ Travel outside of Los Angeles on the metro line.
    Jennie's thoughts: we went to San Diego. 
  14. Drive around Mullholland Drive.
  15. See what's what at the Santa Monica Camera Obscura.
  16. ✅ People watch and listen to live music/musicians at Union Station.
    Jennie’s thoughts: Ivan and I sat here for a few hours just people watching and talking. We even got to listen to some random person play piano for the public!
  17. ✅ Take a photo at the Bradbury Building.
  18. ✅ Bike or walk along The Strand (along Venice Beach, Santa Monica).
    Jennie’s thoughts: Pretty nice intro to LA as a whole. It’s fantastic to walk along the beach early in the morning when the city isn’t hustling and bustling yet.
  19. Somehow score a chance to tour SpaceX.
  20. ✅ Go to LACMA during a free day and check out the art exhibits.
  21. Meditate and visit the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple -- apparently this is where part of Gandhi's ashes were spread.
  22. ✅ Eat sushi at Sugar Fish
    Jennie's thoughts: Hands down the best affordable sushi that I've had in the U.S. 
  23. ✅ Have a meal at The Grand Central Market.
    Jennie’s thoughts:  Meh. The lines aren’t worth it if you ask me.
  24. ✅ Enjoy dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia area.
    Jennie’s thoughts: It’s a trek from the Westside but definitely a worthwhile area if you’re craving decent Chinese food.
  25. ✅ Get the chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.
    Jennie’s thoughts: Delicious, salty, and probably heart attack inducing.
  26. ✅ Eat delicious Japanese food in Little Tokyo.
  27. Queue up for street vendor Corn Man's cheesy, buttery corn goods.
  28. ✅Drive to and eat Ave 26 Tacos on a spring/summer night.
  29. ✅ Enjoy SOMI SOMI's taiyaki ice cream delight.
  30. Try Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.
  31. Eat Japanese/Italian/WAFU pasta and baked goods at Spoon House Bakery & Restaurant.
  32. ✅Try tsukemen ramen at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex.
    Jennie’s thoughts: Overhyped. There’s better ramen elsewhere and not worth the lineup.
  33. ✅ Try fresh pasta dishes from Pasta Sisters.
    Jennie's thoughts: Still prefer Italian food in Boston, but not bad!
  34. Take a tour of Huy Fong Foods, Inc. (aka home of la Sriracha).
  35. Check out and tour Meiji Tofu, where they still make tofu the traditional way.
  36. ✅ ✅ Go to The Broad and check out the Infinity Mirrored Room exhibit.
  37. Spend an afternoon getting lost at The Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  38. See the Space Shuttle Endeavour installation at the California Science Center.
  39. Go paddle boarding with whales in Redondo Beach.
  40. ✅ Enjoy the sunset and “star party” at Griffith Observatory.
    Jennie’s thoughts: Probably one of my favorite sunsets in LA.
  41. ✅ Trek around and camp at Joshua Tree National Park when there's a meteor shower.
  42. Weird hike to Rustic Canyon’s Nazi Ruins “Murphy Ranch” in Santa Monica Mountains.
  43. ✅ Hike the trails of Santa Anita Canyon.
  44. Do the cliche hike up to the Hollywood Sign.
  45. Commit and do a 10 mile hike to the Bridge To Nowhere.
  46. ✅ Hike up Runyon Canyon. Apparently very popular and worth the hype.
  47. Eaton Canyon hike to get to some gorgeous 40 foot waterfalls.
  48. ✅ Relax and lounge for a day at one of Malibu's gorgeous beach spots (e.g. Zuma Beach)
  49. Be in awe of the "Lost Sunken City".
  50. ✅ Take a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) through to San Francisco.
    Ivan's thoughts: We took Amtrak along the PCH. Does that count? 10/10! Google Coast Starlight Amtrak. 
  51. Do a random road trip to Wayfarers Chapel.
  52. ✅ Watch a double feature at the New Beverly Cinema.
    Ivan's thoughts: We saw a double feature of Die Hard/Die Hard 2 on Christmas Eve, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot/Desperate Hours, and a John Cassavetes double feature (Opening Night/A Woman Under the Influence), oh and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch on Thanksgiving. Love this place!
  53. ✅ Take a tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Fascinating architecture.
  54. Enjoy a cheap show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre during a weekday.
  55. Watch a movie at a drive-in theatre (e.g. Vineland Drive-In or Electric Dusk Drive-In Theatre).
  56. ✅ Watch a show and check out the interior of The Orpheum Theatre.
    Jennie's thoughts: Pretty gorgeous venue. I ended up going to a DragCon show hosted at the Orpheum Theature with an old friend. 
  57. ✅ Pathetically trek up the Santa Monica Stairs.
  58. ✅ Drive by the Chandelier Tree in Silverlake.
  59. ✅ People watch at Santa Monica Pier.
    Jennie’s thoughts: I sort of regretted this immediately because it was just SO crowded. Probably not going back, especially during the Thursday Summer Concerts.
  60. ✅ Walk through and enjoy the fancy houses and bridges/canals in [America's] Venice Canals.
    Jennie’s thoughts: Surprisingly...few people still know to check out this area. It’s gorgeous and wonderful to walk through on any day of the week.

AUGUST 2018 UPDATE: We managed to cross off 35 items (out of 60) before we moved out of Los Angeles. 58% - not too shabby!