This post was originally written in July 2011, and updated in June 2016.Because there is much more to LA than Hollywood!
Farmers Market Food Tasting Tour
If you like to eat, this is the best thing to do in LA. It was recommended to me by a friend, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! The tour starts at Farmers Markets and walks down 3rd St to the Beverly Centre, stopping along the way to sample food from cafes, bakeries and restaurants. I can be a picky eater, but there was nothing I didn’t try. My favourites were the tasty meats from the Brazilian BBQ restaurant in the markets, with the monkey bread from Thee's Continental Pastries and doughnuts from Bob's Doughnuts close behind. I loved this tour so much, I think I ended up doing it two more times with different friends, and booking it for my sister.
I also later did their East LA Latin Flavours tour, which explored some of the city's best dining secrets. We were treated to amazing tamales and pupusas, toured a tortilla factory and tried some unique desserts. The best part however, was meeting the people who ran the restaurants, and hearing their stories about living in Los Angeles and how the meals that had been passed through their families for generations became their way of life. This tour might have been even better than the Farmers Market tour!
These tours are run by Melting Pot Tours. My experiences are from 2010 to 2013, they might visit different restaurants now.
Ocean Rafting at Catalina Island
Technically not in LA, but pretty close, I went to Catalina Island during my second US trip. I went for a day, taking the ferry from Long Beach in the morning and returning later that night. I got lunch at one of the restaurants when I arrived, and had booked an ocean rafting tour for the afternoon.
The tour started by departing from Avalon Harbour, and went around the island to a nearby snorkling spot. The water was a bit cold, but I got some great photos with my underwater camera. Next we headed out from the island in search of dolphins, which we were lucky enough to see, then finished the afternoon with a stop at Two Harbours before returning to Avalon. The tour I did in mid 2011 might not exist anymore, but looking at the website while updating the post, I think they actually have better tours now!
Catalina Ocean Rafting
Runyon Canyon Park
I love this park! I think I have been there on every visit to LA since I originally wrote this post. Accessed from the top off a quiet street off Hollywood Boulevard, you wouldn't stumble on it by accident. This was something I decided to do after I had visited the city a couple of time and was looking for an alternative things to do. Best of all, it’s free!
I first visited the park one afternoon when I had a few days in LA on my way home from Central America. It was a clear day, so the views of the city and the sign were great. The leafy open space at the entrance of the park and the dirt trails leading up leading up through hills can trick you into believing you are no longer in a big city. I walked from the N Fuller Ave entrance to Mullholland Drive, it’s definitely something I would recommend to anyone visiting the city.