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Things To Do

10 Cool Things You Can Do in L.A. All By Your Awesome Self

May 11, 2015 by Jacqueline Donabedian

Los Angeles is an exciting city to meet people from all over the country and the world. People flock to L.A. for the endless sunshine, the pristine beaches, the enchanting presence of the film industry, the diversity of each of its neighborhoods, the delicious restaurants and cafes, the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, and Angels rivalries, and so much more. All of these reasons also represent why Los Angeles’ streets are constantly covered in traffic– there are so many places to explore and so many people to experience your discoveries with!

However, part of being an Angeleno is discovering some of Los Angeles’ treasures away from the pack. As a lone wolf, you’re able to seek out adventure and focus on your findings without the distraction of others.

That being said, think of this journey as a mini vacation without traveling far. Shut off your phone for a few hours and recharge your independence!

Below are 10 rad activities to do in L.A….

All by your awesome self.

Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library

Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library. Credit: Deborah Schander via flickr

1. Botanical Gardens and Libraries

Could it get any better than tea time, books, art, and nature? Located in the San Marino area, The Huntington Library Art Collections & Botanical Gardens is the best of all four worlds. Explore the Japanese Garden’s Bonsai Collection and Zen Court, the Lily Ponds, and the Jungle Garden in the morning, satisfy your appetite with tea and finger sandwiches at the Rose Garden Tea Room midday, and peak through the library exhibitions and art collections by the afternoon. The Huntington’s exhibition “Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times” showcases 150 literary objects including classics like Chaucer’s manuscript of Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s First Folio, and the Gutenberg Bible.

Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge also boasts ten different gardens, including a California Natives Garden featuring the Matilda Poppy and other California flowers and Nature’s Table Garden featuring solely edible vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. The Getty Villa  is another wonderful site to soak in the beautiful Malibu area amongst Greco and Roman statues and figurines. If you enjoy Greek mythology and ancient art by the beach, this might be your mecca.

Parks are also a great spot to appreciate nature: take a look at our list of the 10 best parks in Los Angeles when you need to get away.

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2. Coffee Shops & Cafes

Tucked away in the confines of the Larchmont Village, Bricks & Scones is the coziest hub for writers, bloggers, students, and artists. Aside from their hard-to-resist scones and delicious lattes, they offer free Wi-Fi, indoor and outdoor seating with a dog-friendly vibe, a quiet, no-talking area designated as “The Study” , board games, and 10% off purchases if you bring your own mug.

With a lovely ambiance of colorful chairs, greenery, and exposed brick, it’s hard not to feel at peace at Alcove Cafe and Bakery in Los Feliz. While it does get crowded during Saturday and Sunday brunch hours, the beauty of this place is it’s open from 6:00am to 12:00am Sunday through Thursday and until 1:00am on Fridays and Saturdays, so it’s not too hard to find some alone time.

Aroma Coffee & Tea in Toluca Lake is another great coffee shop that I hold near and dear as a loyal customer personally since I was ten years old. With lots of outdoor seating, friendly service, and delicious blue-velvet cake, it’s hard not to pop by this joint. Alfred Coffee & Kitchen is another trendy coffee spot in the West Hollywood Area with indoor and outdoor seating, their hook being their “Alfred Cone”: a waffle cone coated with chocolate on the inside that melts into your espresso or macchiato once it’s poured inside. Treat yourself!

Not caffeinated enough? Check out 17 other great coffee spots in Los Angeles.

3. Bookstores

The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA is a wonderland of thousands of used and vintage books, records, and books on CD. Filled from wall to wall with art and other unique decor, the added bonus of this hideout is the upstairs collection with $1 books all up for grabs. Located on the famous Sunset Strip, Book Soup is a great bookstore with over 60,000 titles that specialize in art, film, photography, music, non-fiction, and literary nonfiction. Also, catch one of their featured author events or poetry readings – who knows, you might run into your favorite author. Skylight Books is another quiet spot to visit with it’s very own reading bench and special lectures by authors.

Interested in other hidden book nooks? Check our list of 12 of the best bookstores in L.A.

4. Secluded Beaches

The beautiful beaches are one of the many reasons why people move to Los Angeles. If you want to separate from the rest of the gulls, Point Dume State Beach is one of the most private beaches in Malibu for swimmers. With it’s neighbor being the very social Zuma Beach, Point Dume is best for a quieter experience in paradise – you might even spot a dolphin if you arrive early enough. Topanga State Beach is another quaint, more secluded option that’s great for surfing or sunbathing. Located in Palos Verdes, Malaga Cove is an intimate beach famous for its roaming peacocks, gazebo, and great hiking trails. For caves and rock climbing, also check out El Matador Beach in Malibu.

Sunset at Point Dume

Sunset at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu. Credit: Pachecho via flickr

5. Solo Hikes

What better way to soul search than to journey a hike by yourself? A little fresh air and peace of mind is the trail mix for the hiker’s soul. The hike along Corral Canyon Park in Malibu is a scenic, safe trail short enough that it’s impossible to get lost by yourself. The Fryman Canyon trail in Wilacre Park is another short hike for lone wolves at any fitness level. Added bonus: their parking lot is free! Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Agua Dulce is another spot with free parking and lots of safe opportunities for the solo rock climbers.

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(If you do go hiking alone, be sure to take extra precaution and make sure someone you know is aware of where you went!)

Check out our list of 9 easiest hikes in Los Angeles for more choices.

6. Record Stores & Venues

The best way to personalize your music choices is to stop by a record store or a show. Amoeba Music in Hollywood boasts an extensive music and film library with listening stations to sample their products and special in-store performances. If you’re looking for more of an intimate experience, Second Spin has a solid array of used CDs with listening stations too. If you’re feeling more adventurous, Hotel Cafe in Hollywood and The Satellite in Silver Lake are two neighborhood music venues for shows by local and established artists and bands.

7. Movie Theaters

Taking yourself to the movies is true romance. If you can sneak away to watch a Hollywood classic, Tuesday matinees at LACMA are only $4 for general admission and $2 for LACMA members. LACMA also offers evening screenings of new releases, documentaries, guest-curated events, and speaker series. Famous for it’s weekly Saturday night showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Nuart Theatre screens new releases in addition to foreign, independent, and avant-garde films. Another superb option is the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, a nonprofit organization headed by movie lovers who are dedicated to showcasing both new and old films, hosts screenings in the late afternoons and evenings seven days a week at $10-12 a show or free for members.

See our list of the best movie theatres in Los Angeles for the vintage movie experience for more options.

8. Meditation Spots

Meditation can be the resolve to restoring balance within yourself. Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles holds teachings and lectures on the art of meditation. Vendanta Temple in Hollywood is another great option that provides daily worship, meditation, lectures, retreats, seminars, and so much more. If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, Mulholland Drive’s Scenic Lookout is more of a free space to meditate amongst the trees and mountains in the Hollywood Hills. Known for their “Friday Night Guided Crystal Meditation” at the Sweat SpotSpellbound Sky in Silver Lake is also a neat store to visit if you’re interested in sifting through positive energy crystals and minerals, ritual candles, and essential oil potions.

Looking for more options to find your inner calm? Check out our article on 7 Awesomely Peaceful Places in L.A. as well.

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9. Farmers Markets & Flea Markets

Casually roaming around farmers markets and flea markets are a great way to make furnishing your apartment and buying groceries fun. Trying to find an antique for your apartment, a cool necklace for a friend’s birthday, or some vintage clothing? The Melrose Trading Post at Fairfax High School every Sunday and The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena on the second Sunday of the month are both worth checking out. A few great farmers markets to check out for produce, vegetables, or a delicious hot lunch are the Downtown LA Farmers Market on 7th & Figueroa on Thursdays, the Silver Lake Farmers Market every Tuesday and Saturday, and Larchmont Village Farmers Market on Sundays. For other spots in your neighborhood, see our comprehensive list of farmers markets in L.A.

10. Volunteer

Finally, a wonderful and generous way you can leave your mark on the L.A. community during your solo trek is through volunteer work. Tree People offers fun volunteer activities like moonlight hikes, park tree care, forest restoration, and tree mapping at parks all over the Los Angeles area. The Midnight Mission is another awesome L.A. based organization benefiting the homeless community with volunteer opportunities like meal service, special event preparation, painting, tutoring kids, making food boxes and hygiene kits, and sorting clothing and assisting distribution. Races and marathons are another great way to give back to the L.A. community. The Color Run in L.A. on June 13th this year is a paint race that donates its proceeds to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

There are many outlets where you can help out, see our list of 16 Awesome Volunteer Opportunities for Angelenos.

What’s your favorite thing to do by yourself in L.A.? Let us know in the comments below!

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