5 non-touristy ways to play tourist in L.A.

A GIF shows a drawing of a baseball bat and ball atop a photo of an exterior view of Dodger Stadium, with palm trees.
Dodger Stadium is the country’s first sports arena with an accredited botanic garden.
(Photo by Christina House / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Li Anne Liew / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, fellow Escapists. Normally this newsletter is a place for sharing ideas for weekend adventures and road trips around Southern California and beyond.

But even the most intrepid weekend warriors need a break sometimes. And it’s a lot of fun to spend a weekend exploring your own neighborhood and city. That’s why this edition is dedicated to a few non-touristy ways for locals to play tourist in L.A. Have you discovered any new favorite spots in town? Let me know, and I may feature them in a future edition of Escapes.

You’ve seen the Hollywood sign. Now see the back of it.

Large white letters on a green hillside spell out "Hollywood," with blue sky in the background.
A view the Hollywood sign from Griffith Park.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Most of us are used to seeing the Hollywood sign in mere flashes — its recognizable letters glimpsed while sitting in traffic on Interstate 10 or walking the streets of Hollywood.

If you’re a fan of L.A.’s most recognizable landmark and want to revel a little longer in its view, there are a few easy ways to make that happen. Times contributor Casey Schreiner broke down nine little-known ways to see the Hollywood sign, for your viewing pleasure.

Though the famous sign is not illuminated at night, that hasn’t always been the case.

May 3, 2022

For example, Schreiner recommends veering a bit off the beaten path at often-crowded Griffith Observatory and taking the West Observatory Trail. The trail “climbs toward its namesake from the playground near the Trails cafe on Fern Dell Drive,” writes Schreiner.


This “not only gives you a chance to avoid the steep parking fees near the observatory but also lets you see some of the best views of the Hollywood sign anywhere in Griffith Park.”

Don’t just drive by Beverly Hills mansions. Swim in one of the pools too.

Animation of a floatation ring floating in a kidney-shaped swimming pool.
(Li Anne Liew / Los Angeles Times)

After a morning of hiking, nothing’s better than kicking back at a pool with some friends. But there’s one small problem: Most of us don’t have our own backyard pool.

Enter Swimply, an app that’s been called the Airbnb for pools. Times editor Brittany Levine Beckman featured Swimply in this list of 20 fun things to do in L.A. on Mother’s Day (which, heads up, is this weekend).

There are nearly 300 pools listed for rent in the L.A. area, including the Hollywood Castle pool, tucked away in the Hollywood Hills. The mansion is styled to look like a British castle — and, yes, the pool resembles a moat (sort of).

With hourly rental costs generally from $50 to $100, it helps to split the cost among friends. In the case of this Beverly Hills pool, you’d end up spending around $35 apiece if you rented it for four hours and invited 14 others to join in the fun.

Check out Dodger Stadium — its botanic gardens, that is.

Drawings of cactuses float above a parking lot. In the background is the L.A. skyline.
There’s flora to be found outside Dodger Stadium.
(Photo by Christina House / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Li Anne Liew / Los Angeles Times)

Last week, I mentioned a few places you can find flowers right now in Southern California. After reading last week’s edition, a fellow “escapist” wrote to me, recommending his go-to wildflower spot: the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale. “Along the nature trails you get a great variety of flowers,” he said via email. “Even this year it is very interesting,” with suncups, clematis, opuntia and more.

Another L.A. County location with some dazzling plants? Dodger Stadium, the country’s first sports arena with an accredited botanic garden.

Earlier this year, Times plants writer Jeanette Marantos spoke with Chaz Perea, the stadium’s landscape manager, about the wonderland of “fragrant salvias, agaves of multiple colors and size, and boulder-sized century plants sending their towering blooms into the sky.”

“Perea’s vision was to create a water-wise landscape that will introduce thousands of stadium visitors to the beauty of California native and other drought-resistant plants and water-saving irrigation techniques,” Marantos reported.

Tours of Dodger Stadium’s botanic garden are held on Fridays at 10 a.m. Tickets for adults are $25.

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

Visit one of L.A.’s beloved Jewish delis, then learn the stories behind them.

A sign that says "Canter's" is seen on a city street busy with traffic at dusk. Palm trees border the road.
Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue.
(David George / Alamy Stock Photo)

Last week’s inaugural “Wandering and Wondering” question-and-answer section was all about beloved small museums in and around L.A. (Shout-out to Sandra Stokes Smith and Mark Micchio, who emailed me to share some of their favorite spots: The Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Nethercutt Museum, respectively).

There are tons of L.A. and O.C. museum shows to see this month. But I’m especially intrigued by an exhibition titled “I’ll Have What She’s Having: The Jewish Deli,” currently on view at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The show includes “mid-20th century menus, matchbooks and uniforms worn by counter clerks and waitresses,” reports Times contributor Barbara Isenberg. “There are very realistic replicas of matzo ball soup, corned beef sandwiches and other comfort food, not to mention a seven-minute, 20-second video of a smiling cook who narrates the making of a bagel.”

It sounds like a delight for serious deli devotees, as well as anyone who simply loves popping into L.A. institutions such as Langer’s or Canter’s.

The show runs through Sept. 4. Admission is $18 for nonmember adults.

The exhibition “I’ll Have What She’s Having” is a deep dive into cultural history and Hollywood connections, from “Seinfeld” to “Mrs. Maisel.”

April 14, 2022

Explore L.A. while high.

Two women stand behind a marble counter in a shop.
Whitney Beatty, left, and Ebony Andersen at their dispensary Josephine & Billie’s.
(Lauren Crew / For The Times)

One way to see Southern California through new eyes, as Times writer Adam Tschorn suggests, is to visit some of your favorite places after you’ve consumed a little bit of cannabis. (As Adam notes, let someone sober do the driving.) And here’s where you might go if you need to stock up.

Not every weed shop in Los Angeles is built on social justice and community — but these social equity dispensaries are.


“The first of L.A.’s social equity dispensaries — legal weed shops whose majority owners were unduly affected by the war on drugs — started opening around the city a year ago this month,” Tschorn reported in April.

Tschorn is on a mission to visit and catalog all of these spots across the city. Here are a few he’s documented so far:

  • Gorilla Rx Wellness: “The godmother of L.A.’s social equity movement, Kika Keith, opened her Crenshaw shop roughly six blocks from where she grew up,” writes Tschorn. “The focal point … are BIPOC- and women-owned brands including Biko (flower), Potli (infused shrimp chips), Kikoko (tea) and packets of THC-infused barbecue from a brand called Get Saucey.”
  • Hierba: This Boyle Heights dispensary offers “THC-infused takes on traditional aguas frescas ... from L.A. brand Agua de Flor, horchata- or margarita-flavored artisanal gummies (from Dulze) and La Familia cannabis-infused chocolates,” Tschorn reports.
  • Josephine & Billie’s: This small Exposition Park dispensary is more than what meets the eye. “Whisper the phrase ‘Billie sent me,’ and you’ll be transported (we won’t spoil how) into a 1,500-square-foot, speakeasy-themed dispensary by and for women of color,” writes Tschorn.
An illustration of a butterfly sitting atop the letters "Q&A".
(Li Anne Liew / Los Angeles Times)

Wandering and Wondering: A weekly Q&A section

This question was posted on the #AskLosAngeles subreddit last weekend: “Anyone know good beach spots to chill alone?

My first instinct was to mention Will Rogers State Beach: Just take the Marvin Braude Bike Trail all the way to its northern end and lay down your towel.


I’m also a big fan of spending early mornings in Malibu to beat the crowds. Drive up Highway 1 at 7 or 8 a.m. and you’ll have its world-famous beaches (almost) to yourself.

Where are your favorite beaches? Let me know what your go-to beaches are and why you love them.

🎸 Road song

A Letter to My Younger Self,” by Ambar Lucid. Play it while driving the entirety of Pico Boulevard (another excellent L.A. activity).