A local’s guide to Los Angeles
- By Mia Nakaji Monnier
- Photos by Lisa Corson
For all the airtime it gets, Los Angeles is often misunderstood, its diversity whitewashed or idealized, and its character flattened to a few adjectives better suited for a TV show’s intro sequence: sunny, glamorous, shallow.
The truth is both more complicated and more interesting. Ask any Angeleno to describe the city to you and they’ll do it in a different way. There’s beach city L.A., literary L.A., the L.A. of ethnic enclaves and public art and serious sports fans and amateur foodies.
In a city so sprawling, diverse, segregated and ever-changing, one decade of living here doesn’t make an expert, and a one-week stay won’t let you see everything. But embrace that. Spend a day wandering a neighborhood and soaking up its atmosphere. Spend an hour eating something new and soaking up its juices with bread. Then come back and do it again.
Meet Mia Nakaji Monnier
Mia was born in Pasadena and moved seven times across the country before finishing high school in L.A.’s South Bay. After going to college in Vermont, she came back to L.A. in 2010 and has lived here since. Before going freelance, she worked on staff at the Rafu Shimpo, the local Japanese American community newspaper, based in Little Tokyo.
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Explore more of Los Angeles
- The traffic is not exaggerated — and it makes a sprawling city feel even bigger. Plan to stay near the places you’d like to visit. If you’re on the Eastside and want to visit the Westside, make it a day trip.
- L.A. is more than Hollywood. That means (a) we’re not all wealthy white actresses on Goop diets, and (b) you can skip the star tours and Walk of Fame unless they’re personally meaningful to you.
- But you might actually get to see Keanu Reeves sitting on a bench. If you do, be cool.