Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Los Angeles, California

Hannah and husband Matt attempting to take a selfie with the Hollywood sign which is just in the shot on the far right Hannah and husband Matt attempting to take a selfie with the Hollywood sign (far right)! © Hannah Karns

Hannah Karns, Lonely Planet's Midwest Sales Director, recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles, California.

Tell us more… My husband and I spontaneously decided to venture to Los Angeles for five days in December. We were anxious to escape the Chicago winter, and LA promised sun and temperatures in the 70s. With an Airbnb booked and the Lonely Planet Los Angeles guide downloaded via the Guides app, we were ready for our adventure.

Good grub? Despite hearing that LA isn’t particularly walkable, there was plenty to explore on foot in our neighbourhood of Silver Lake and Echo Park. We were thrilled because on our travels we've found walking to be the best way to get a feel for a new place.

We really enjoyed wandering around the shops and foodie spots in our local area, stopping in at the Night+Market Song for some delicious Grapow khai dao (minced chicken, garlic and rice topped with a fried egg) and the Fat Dragon for spicy Sichuan wontons and ma po tofu (a spicy tofu stew). With Pine and Crane’s lovely Dan Dan noodles in between the two, we had quite the flavorful food crawl in just a few blocks.

A bowl of traditional Sichuan spicy wonton A bowl of traditional Sichuan spicy wonton © Artorn Thongtukit / Shutterstock

If you do one thing... I would recommend hiking to the Griffith Observatory. The trail entrance near the Greek Theater was convenient with plenty of parking, the hike was relatively easy (though it is uphill most of the way there) and the views of the city and famous Hollywood sign were great (and make for a lovely sunset setting) – not to mention the whole experience was completely free!

Local gem? From the unassuming exterior, we didn’t quite know what to make of the Thirsty Crow bar. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to discover an old-school, speakeasy-style interior, with friendly bartenders and cozy, red leather corner booths in the back. We were able to relax, enjoy the jazz music and soak up the candlelit ambience.

The view over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory trail The view over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory trail © Hannah Karns

Bizarre encounter? Though we didn’t see any celebrities, we did have a different kind of memorable sighting. As we made our way back down the Griffith Observatory trail at dusk, we heard a rustling in the hillside shrubbery. I thought it was two dogs who'd got off their leashes, but what emerged from the brush was in fact a deer and its fawn. They eyed us suspiciously, determined we were not a threat and swiftly sprang up the hill with surprising agility. We didn’t see them again, but they were the talk of that evening.

Fave activity? A real highlight of the trip was seeing a show at the Comedy Store. My husband is a huge stand-up fan and this is a legendary spot in Los Angeles. We saw big name acts back-to-back-to-back, and laughed so hard we cried several times. We didn’t want to leave the show – it was promising to go well beyond midnight – but we had to catch our flight early the next day.

Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Lonely Planet Trailblazer Peter Watson got up to on his recent trip to Djibouti.