Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

I was reminded last weekend how fun it can be to explore where I live as if I were a tourist. And I think everyone should do this! I mean, unless you live in a tiny town, every decent size city has so much to offer…and all sorts of things you wouldn’t even think about doing unless someone was in town visiting. It’s the…’I can do that anytime’ syndrome – where you say you’ll do something one of these days, but you never do because you live there, and you know it’ll always be there. So this weekend, I made plans with a friend coming to town for a visit, and we decided to go to those places I still haven’t gone after living in Los Angeles almost six years.

As I mentioned in a prior post, my sister-in-law, Angela came for a few days to see Steven and I. Being the planner that I am, I started thinking about things we could do a few weeks back. I wanted to do touristy stuff – but not necessarily the same things everyone does when they came to Los Angeles (aka…no movie star home tours), and I wanted to find things that weren’t crazy expensive (as L.A. has a way of sucking you dry of your money). Friday night we didn’t exactly take the cheap route. After all, we did go see a musical at the Pantages. But I must say, they do have some very reasonably priced seats, and the theater layout is such that there really aren’t bad seats. You can buy cheap tickets and still have a great time watching the show. Then, on Saturday, we hit the Getty Villa in Malibu and went to Dockweiler Beach to bonfire and watch the sunset.

First…the Getty Villa: The Villa is a re-creation of a first century Roman country house in Italy. The house is beautiful, the grounds are perfectly manicured and the art is pretty amazing. Inside the house is a museum, displaying Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities dating back thousands of years. These items themselves are worth the visit. But, honestly, my favorite part was the gardens. They were absolutely beautiful…I wanted to take them home and transplant them into my own backyard (not that I have one). And what’s better? The Villa is free! I love free stuff. And here’s a tip (we totally did this by accident, but it worked out well): You have to make reservations to visit the Villa. We reserved our space for 3pm on Saturday (I figured we might want to sleep in and not have to rush out the door). But, of course, we were running late. We arrived about 3:45pm. Parking is generally $10 per car, which I figured was ok since we were all entering for free. But because we were late, and it was the last reservation of the day, they gave us free parking also! Yeah (again, I love free stuff)! The Villa is just small enough that a little over an hour was enough time to visit everything and not feel too rushed. They do have free tours of the gardens and such, which we missed because we were late. But we were able to take the garden tour on our own, which probably worked out better since we found it important to stop and take silly ‘statue’ pictures along the way.

After visiting the Getty Villa, our plan was to head to the beach, grab some take out and settle in with a bonfire to watch the sunset. This didn’t work out exactly as planned but was loads of fun none-the-less. The traffic getting out of Malibu was pretty horrendous. So instead of heading straight out, we stopped to eat dinner, hoping the traffic would die down. That didn’t happen. We found a different way out, which had much less traffic…but was pretty far out, so it still took forever. Then we stopped at the grocery store for drinks, ice cream, firewood and all that good stuff. By the time we made it to the beach, it was 8pm. We didn’t miss the sunset. But maybe that’s because the sky was so thickly covered with fog and clouds that there was no sunset. lol. Of course, by 8pm all the fire pits were taken. Scratch the bonfire idea. Instead, we headed toward a semi-private spot on the beach, laid out our blankets and got comfortable. Thanks to the cloud cover, we were okay without a fire…it stayed fairly warm (well…I was cold, but then I’m always cold). We talked, laughed, drank, ate ice cream and even had time for a well-pitched karaoke session. I particularly loved the planes flying out of LAX overhead – their ominous presence as they flew above added perfectly to the eerie ambiance as we struggled to see any glimpse of their lights through the clouds. The beach was great. I absolutely love the ocean and the sound of the waves. If we had more blankets (and no cops trying to write us parking tickets for staying too long), I could have slept right there.

So in one weekend, I did three things I’ve never done in Los Angeles before. I went to a musical, saw the Getty Villa and vegged on the beach at night with a blanket, some drinks and the perfect company. What a great weekend.

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