Ask the Angeleno · things to do in LA

Angelenos Recommendation: Fidel

My good friend Fidel is a travel genius! She’s the writer at where she will tell you how to travel with efficiency. She’s also an LA transplant (not originally from here), yet has some words of helpful advice when visiting Los Angeles.

Name: Fidel Mahangel IMG_1579

Where do you currently live?  Los Angeles, CA

How long have/did you live(d) in Los Angeles? 6 years

Where else have you lived?

Sudan: Khartoum (My first year of life)

Canada: Winnipeg, Manitoba and Vancouver, British Columbia (Childhood)

U.S.: Seattle, WA; Ithaca, NY; Washington, DC; Alexandria, VA (Teen and adulthood)

What made you want to live here? Do you think you’ll stay?

Honestly, I just moved to LA for work; it was not in my plan to live here at all.  I’ve been told if you live in LA for at least 2 years you probably won’t ever leave and ironically it’s been 7 years now and I don’t have any immediate plans of moving.  At one point I really wanted to go back to the East Coast but now having lived in sunny California, I can’t get this weather and lifestyle anywhere else. So for now, I’m here.

What are your top 3 favorite things to do in Los Angeles/Southern CA? And why?

  1. The beach!  Because I’m a fish and love the water and being close to the ocean.  I prefer Manhattan Beach or the beaches in Malibu; there’s less people and the water is cleaner.
  2. Outdoor live music concert and picnic: whether it’s “Jazz at LACMA” or checking out a concert at the Hollywood Bowl I love that I can bring some snacks and a blanket and hang out with friends while listening to great music.  
  3. Hiking: With great weather year round it’s so easy to stay active.  As a result I love doing Saturday hikes with friends, followed by brunch!  LA is big on brunch. My favorite local spot is Griffith Park, otherwise if you go further out there’s great hiking in Malibu, like Solstice Canyon, which I love.  And when you can combine a hike and going to the beach afterwards, that’s my idea of a perfect day in LA/Cali.

One of your most favorite memories:

After 6 years of living in LA, this year I finally took a day trip to Catalina Island for my birthday and had a great time with friends.  I got to do all the things I loved and the island was just as cute as I hoped. One of those things was ocean rafting in search of whales and sure enough we came across a pod!  This made my day! On top of that, the island and people make you feel extra special on your birthday with all sorts of freebies and love. I would recommend any visitor in the area to take a day trip out to Catalina, you’ll love it!
What’s the worst thing about living here?

Traffic and smog.  I always underestimate how long it will take me to get somewhere.
Do you have another favorite city in the world besides LA?

I fell in love with Florence, Italy and Paris, France after traveling abroad but the only other place I can see myself living at the moment would be San Diego, CA.

Finish this sentence: “Everyone who visits LA absolutely needs to ….”

Enjoy a true LA brunch experience, maybe by the beach or on a rooftop in downtown, it’s what Angelenos are known for and is our way of life.  Some hot spots include Toast Bakery; Urth Caffe; Blu Jam Cafe; The Griddle Cafe…the list goes on. You might even run into a celebrity or two; they brunch at the same places as everyone else!
What else should every visitor do or see or eat while they’re here? Why?

Los Angeles has some great museums and exhibits that visitors should definitely check out.  I’m a little bias because I live on museum row in Miracle Mile, off of Wilshire Blvd., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), mentioned above, is one that I’ve gone to several times and absolutely love.  There’s plenty more museums across the city, including the Broad Museum (contemporary art) in downtown LA or even The Getty Villa in Malibu which is a must. I’m a lover of all art so any chance I get to take in some creative works is relaxing for me.IMG_1823

I also recommend attending Downtown Art Walk, the second Thursday of every month, if you love art as much as I do.  It’s just a fun alternative to enjoy an evening out, pop in and out of various art galleries to admire beautiful work, and taste some great food trucks along the way.  While this unique event is year round, I recommend attending during the summer months if possible; more people are out and it’s a bit more livelier. More info at
To do: Griffith Park Observatory

Whether you hike at Griffith Park during the day or drive up to the observatory at night to see the stars; everyone should do at least one of these options.  You get amazing views over the city of LA and get a good view of the Hollywood sign.

I also recently went horseback riding near Griffith Park at Sunset Ranch in the Hollywood Hills and that’s another way to explore the area while doing a relaxing adventure.
EAT: Brazilian Food

I take all my visitors to Bossa Nova for some tasty Brazilian cuisine and so far everyone loves it!!  I love this place because you get large portions, affordable prices, and delicious food. I usually order from their grilled selection and get the “chicken on fire” plate with two sides of plantains. Delicious!  

How much time do you think someone needs to be here in LA to really appreciate it and why?

Three to four days because the LA area is expansive, spread out, and traffic is horrendous.  Prioritize what you want to do and knock out those items based on location. I would suggest staying somewhere central like Mid-Wilshire so you have equal access to many neighborhoods.  I would also decide if this will be a Disney trip or not because if you do plan to go to Disney, you’ll need to add on more days to explore since Disney is located in Anaheim, at least an hour away from the heart of LA.

Any words of advice for someone visiting LA?

Rent a car, you’ll want to be able to easily get around but be careful with parking on the street.  The signs are numerous, confusing, and often require a permit to park in most areas. So read each sign carefully to avoid unnecessary tickets or just park at a meters and parking lots.

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