Our L.A. Bucket Lists

A few of the endless possibilities in this sprawling city.
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A few of the endless possibilities in this sprawling city.
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One of the things that makes Los Angeles so exciting is the vast number of things there are to do here. Every day holds the opportunity to go hiking in the mountains and swimming in the ocean, visit a world-class museum, eat food from all over the globe, or take part in its rich theatre and arts culture. Even Geoffrey, who's lived here his entire life, frequently talks about how he could never do and see everything he wants to in L.A.—there's just so much. That being said, here are each of our top five bucket list items for our favorite city on the best coast:

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1. Spend the day exploring the galleries at The Huntington estate. Last week, I visited the Huntington Gardens, which boasts over 120 acres of beautifully curated gardens, including their famous Japanese and rose gardens, but I never stepped into any of the renowned art galleries also on the property. Considering they hold everything from 15th century European art to contemporary collections, they're well-worth a return trip.
2. Climb Mt. Baldy. Since I went to school in the shadow of this mountain, you’d think I would have trekked up it when I was in college, but that didn’t happen. It’s the tallest peak in Los Angeles County (just over 10k feet) and can easily be done as a day hike, which I plan to do as soon as Sloan inherits the hiking bug her dad has.
3. Finally eat a French Dip at Phillipe’s. There’s a legendary debate about which restaurant created the French Dip sandwich, with both Cole’s and Phillipe’s laying claim. Murky details aside, both are local institutions, but I’ve only eaten at Cole’s, so it’s only right that I give both a try before adding my thoughts to the conversation.
4. Take Sloan to a movie at El Capitan Theatre. This iconic movie palace was originally built in 1926 but was fully restored in the mid 1990s. Disney uses it for many of its premieres, but also screens modern and classic Disney films throughout the year, which often include live entertainment and appearances from their famous characters before the screenings. It’s pretty much like going to Disneyland for two hours and it’s only a ten minute drive from our house.
5. Get season tickets to the Pantages Theater. The theater scene in Los Angeles isn’t on par with New York, but the big shows do travel through on a regular basis, which always feels like a treat. Having a standing date night every few months is also a nice way to add something fun to our calendar.

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1. Ride the Malibu Gran Fondo. Since I started cycling last year, this race has been a goal of mine. I’ve driven the coastline and canyons around Malibu thousands of times, but riding through these challenging hills I'm sure would bring a new level of appreciation for the beauty of our local landscape.
2. Go to one of the John Williams: Maestro of the Movies concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. Who wouldn’t want to spend a warm summer night outdoors, listening to one of his epic scores, while watching an equally epic movie? Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters, E.T., Harry Potter, just to name a few. Everyone I know who’s gone to a screening comes back with a newfound appreciation for how impactful a musical score can be to a film.
3. Find a way to eat at Totoraku. This “secret” restaurant requires you to receive an invitation from someone who has eaten there before, which must be approved by the chef. That slight challenge aside, it’s supposedly one of the most epic meat experiences in the city, which also comes with a pretty high tab. To be fair, I haven’t tapped into my network of food friends since I’m equally irked and fascinated by the process of getting a seat, but ultimately, my curiosity is too strong to deny my goal.
4. Ride the metro from Downtown to Santa Monica. This one probably seems really odd, but for the first time in 60 years, L.A. once again has a train that takes people from the heart of the city, to the beach. Mass transit hasn’t always been viewed or used in the same way as personal cars, but this major update to our Metro system makes me excited for our city’s evolution and I’m hoping that trend continues.
5. Take Sloan camping in Joshua Tree. This one is a little outside L.A., but I’m putting it here anyway. We’re really lucky to have some amazing national parks in our state and Joshua Tree is one of my favorites. Photos don’t do it enough justice and I can’t wait to see Sloan experience the stunning terrain and unique trees in person.

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1. Have dinner at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I’m definitely a sucker for classic things, and it almost doesn’t get more classic than the Beverly Hills Hotel with its iconic signage, palm print wallpaper, and Pepto Bismol pink exterior. Having a martini, dinner, and ice cream sundae here is just something I’ve got to do (more than once). 
2. Ride the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. I can’t believe I haven’t done this yet after two summers in L.A. I'd like to walk the Santa Monica boardwalk, get dip ‘n’ dots, and ride the ferris wheel at about 8 p.m. on a balmy evening after spending the day at the beach.  
3. Eat at Trois Mec. This tasting menu-only French restaurant, owned by Ludo Lefebvre, is probably mentioned more frequently in our office than any other L.A. restaurant. Geoffrey and Emily went recently after scoring a ticket (tickets go on sale roughly a month ahead of time, which is either really annoying or extremely cool), Leslie recently visited their sister restaurant, Petit Trois, and loved it, and their French-Mexican brunch spot, Trois Familia, is a team favorite of ours. It's only a matter of time till my curiosity gets the best of me and I start stalking the website for a reservation.
4. See a concert at The Greek. For a live music lover, this is another thing I’m pretty surprised I haven’t done yet. I’ve been to the Troubadour and The Hollywood Bowl but haven’t see a concert nestled in the Los Feliz hills at The Greek, which I hear is a pretty magical experience (which is a nice segue to the next item on the list). 
5. Visit the Magic Castle. If the name doesn’t give it away, this destination is a members-only castle where old-school magicians perform magic for an audience. It’s supposed to be a wild experience. Ever since a co-worker at Byrdie went to an event here hosted by Katy Perry, I’ve heard about it non-stop in L.A. My uber driver told me it was a killer date spot, my friends had the craziest birthday night in its walls, and then Leslie and her boyfriend Jonah went recently as well—by randomly emailing one of the magicians who works there and saying they were fans. It seems so up my alley—weird and cool, and an experience unlike any other. I can’t wait to go. 

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1. Camp in Angeles Forest. I recently went bouldering at Horse Flats, a campground roughly thirty miles into the Angeles Forest, and was baffled that such a beautiful place could exist just an hour from my front door. The area has an alpine terrain similar to my hometown near Tahoe—you'd never know you were just a few minutes from downtown. I already can't wait to go back, but this time to spend the night.
2. Eat Chinese food in San Gabriel Valley. The Chinese food in east Los Angeles is legendary since it's home to one of the richest enclaves of Asian immigrants in the States. As someone who admittedly considers "General Tso's" to be a golden standard of Chinese food, it's high-time I go to San Gabriel to try some dishes actually reminiscent of the complex dishes you might find in mainland China, like frogs in herbal broth and braised jellyfish head, to name a few. 
3. Run from my apartment in Echo Park to the beach. I love the fact that I can get to the beach from my apartment in about thirty minutes (not counting 5 PM on a Friday...), but I'd love to be able to claim "walking distance" to the beach. I recently signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon in March, which starts at Dodgers Stadium, about a mile from where I live, and goes all the way to Santa Monica. I can't imagine a better way to see the city.
4. Have a cocktail at Chateau Marmont. Like Alina, I love the classic, old Hollywood spots in Los Angeles and this hotel is at the top of that list. I'm envisioning myself sitting by the pool with a cocktail in a floppy hat, pretending to be a starlet who simply can't be bothered. No autographs, please.
5. Go surfing before work. This summer, I decided to go full-on Cali bro and take surf lessons. While I'm still a far-cry from Blue Crush, it'd be pretty amazing to get to Malibu around 6 AM and catch some gnar-gnar waves before heading into the office. I mean, what's more L.A. than that? Hang ten, dude. (Update: I crossed this off my bucket list just last week—it was exhausting, but worth it! One down, four to go!)